Hummus is so popular, tobacco farmers switch to chickpeas

Elena Elisseeva / Today

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
By Michelle Hainer

Now that cigarette sales are on the decline, tobacco farmers in Virginia are looking for a new crop to cultivate. The unlikely candidate? The chickpea! According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans are eating A LOT of hummus (“refrigerated flavored spreads” raked in $530 million last year) and Sabra Dipping Co., a top purveyor of the protein-rich snack, wants to make sure that bad weather or a bum crop doesn’t slow its supply of the legume. (The majority of U.S. grown chickpeas come from the Pacific Northwest.) The company also hopes that farmers can identify new chickpea varieties, and the farmers are happy to comply—U.S. farmers are expected to plant more than 200,000 acres of chickpeas this year and they're raking in more money for it, WSJ reports.

It’s not surprising that hummus is so popular. It’s healthier than your average dip, given its high protein and low fat content, it pairs just as well with veggies as it does with pita chips, and with so many flavors and varieties available, it makes for an easy crowd pleaser at any party. Tribe Hummus recently launched a Limited Edition Batch series of its product beginning with Everything flavored hummus, designed to mimic the taste of an everything bagel. Everything hummus will be available through August, when the company will announce its next Limited Batch flavor. Sadaf blends its legumes with artichokes for a healthier spin on a popular spread and Sabra’s Basil Pesto Hummus gives you the satisfying flavor of pesto with the creamy consistency of a dip.

And, if we ever do run into a chickpea crisis, fear not. Trader Joe’s sells an edamame hummus, which swaps out the chickpeas for green soybeans.

Hummus is also really easy to make at home and I have been doing so for years. One container of sesame tahini (I use Joyva’s brand) will last for several batches, so it’s economical as well. Below is a basic recipe with lemon and garlic, but add in whatever flavor you like—roasted red peppers, olives, su- dried tomatoes—to taste. Happy dipping!

Homemade hummus

  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained, with juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup reserved chickpea juice
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (Add more to taste)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender for three minutes or until creamy.

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats atMade By Michelle.

Try more hummus recipes:
Giada's roasted red pepper hummus in cucumber cups

Asparagus Hummus with spiced pita chips

Potato salad with hummus-yogurt dressing