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Joe and Pauline St.Denis

Legal, Alberta doesn’t exactly conjure up a song of the American South, but where an alternative bread spread is concerned, their product is literally no peanuts.

In 2002, after a three-year development in his own farmhouse kitchen and at the Leduc Food Processing Development Centre, seed grower Joe. St. Denis began marketing NoNuts Golden Peabutter, made from the dry brown peas he has grown in his fields for 20 years.

After growing and exporting brown, green and yellow peas and faba beans to markets as diverse as India, South Africa, China and several Middle East countries, St. Denis and his wife Pauline sought to diversify in highly innovative ways.

Long accustomed to the common usage of beans and peas in the kitchens of the nation, they considered other products that had never seen a market in Alberta, let alone Canada. The first is the peabutter, using a brown field pea to which they own the North America breeding rights, and produce through Mountain Meadows Food Processing Ltd. in Legal.

"It tastes, looks and smells almost identical to peanut butter," says St. Denis. "We now are in every major grocery chain across Canada. We are in 3,000 stores."

The success of peabutter has St. Denis looking further afield for other pea- or bean-related foods. A snack similar to Cheezies, only made with brown pea flour, is on the drawing board with a producer in China. So is a falafel mix that uses peas and faba beans rather than the more traditional chickpeas. A 23-percent protein popcorn snack made of peas is also in development, as is a pea flour for baking low-carbohydrate bread.

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