The field bean is one of the great food crops of the world. Very few other edible seed crops produce more nutrition to the acre. Beans represent one of the world’s most concentrated food products, and consequently are in great demand in places where it is difficult to transport food. As a food stuff in mines, lumber camps, construction camps, on the frontier, and in the army and navy, beans are always popular because of their immense food value in comparison with their bulk, and normal cost. A bushel of beans has a food value equivalent to 108 pounds of round steak.
At first only such plants were grown as would serve for human food; natural meadows and pastures provided for domestic animals. Even now there are large areas where no special efforts are made to secure food for stock. With increasing population, however, more ground must be devoted to cereals for human food, and the value of land rises. Natural pastures largely disappear and the farmer must grow other crops as food for stock during different seasons. The cultivation of fodder and pasture plants has reached its greatest perfection in temperate regions, where the animals cannot graze during the winter.