Where is Cullen’s Foods based?

Cullen’s is operated from Guelph, Ontario and works with partners mostly concentrated in
Southern Ontario and Saskatchewan – canning in Cottam, ON, and post-harvest processing in Birsay, SK and Walsingham, ON.

Why did you start Cullen’s Foods?

Cullen’s Foods was created out of frustration with the lack of transparency in many packaged foods categories. We believe a food company should aim to give you what you expect to find at a farmer’s market, not a warehouse – local, organic, transparent. We decided to start with beans for their environmental and health attributes and based on the revelation that many of the organic beans available were in fact from very distant and vague origins.

Where can I buy Cullen’s?

Check out our online store, or Where to Buy page

How are Cullen’s canned beans cooked?

Cullen’s organic beans are pre-soaked for up to 24 hours before cooking in the can at up to 15 pounds per square inch (PSI), which helps ease digestibility.

Are Cullen’s canned beans pressure cooked?

Yes, at up to 15 pounds per square inch (PSI) pressure – higher than most home-based pressure cookers, which helps ease digestibility by breaking down fibers and complex carbohydrates.

Are your cans BPA-Free?

The cans for Cullen’s Foods are manufactured in the United States without the use of Bisphenol A (BPA), Bisphenol S (BPS), Bisphenol F (BPF), Bisphenol A Diglycidyl Ether (BADGE), Novolac Glycidyl Ether (NODGE), phthalates, or Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT).

What does BPA-NI, or “BPA-Non Intent” mean?

It means that our cans were manufactured without the intentional addition of BPA. Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee that BPA elements might be present in the environment which is why fewer brands support the “BPA Free” claim

What is your can lining made from?

Non-toxic enamel

Why are my beans soft or split?

From 2020 to 2022, Cullen’s cooked our full line of beans without the use of any additives whatsoever – simply beans and water. While this maintains a “clean label”, some additives are useful for improving texture to meet consumer expectations.

Starting in 2023, you will notice less splitting across our line which is the result of improved variety selection, improved harvest and post-harvest handling, and in some cases (black, dark red kidney) the addition of Calcium Chloride to improve texture.

What is Calcium Chloride, and why do you add it to some beans?

Calcium Chloride is an organic-approved processing aid which helps maintain a firmer texture for foods cooked under pressure. As a salt, it is often used in sports drinks as an electrolyte and is considered safe in the quantities found in food.

Why don’t you use regular salt?

We prefer to use Calcium Chloride as it has a lesser effect on the flavour of beans and does not limit those on a reduced sodium diet.

What is the gel in my can?

Sometimes, beans release starch during the cooking process which thickens to a “gel” when cooked. This starch is perfectly safe – you can rinse it away or use it to thicken soups.

How are organic beans different?

Organic crops are produced by a set of standards defined by the Canadian Organic Standard, which is regulated by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Unlike most marketing claims, the term organic cannot be used without third-party certification to the Canadian Organic Standard and mis-representing organic integrity is considered fraud. Cullen’s is subject to annual audits by Ecocert Canada to verify that inventory of organic product is not being compromised.

Organic bean production varies from conventional bean production in many ways, starting with the seed which must be verified “untreated”. Untreated seed means that it was not coated with any fungicides or insectides before it is planted in the soil.

Throughout the growing season, weed management is typically handled with inter-row cultivation or electric “zappers” which can eliminate weeds on contact, rather than with chemical herbicides which are banned under the organic standard. In some crops such as chickpeas, the desired crop is interplanted with a complementary crop such as flax which can compete with the weeds without interfering with the chickpeas. The chickpeas and flax are then separated at harvest.

Insects and soil-borne diseases are managed by maintaining diverse wildlife communities locally, and through extended crop rotation cycles. In other worse, not growing the same crop in the same field year after year means less accumulation of soil-borne disease overtime.

Synthetic fertilizers are banned under the standard, which are environmentally taxing to produce and damage soil life. For fertility, organic farmers generally amend with composted livestock manures and cover crops which can contribute nutrients back into the soil.

At harvest, conventional beans are typically treated with a pre-harvest spray of either herbicide or desiccant. Killing the beans with a herbicide will help dry it down and burn off any weeds before harvest, as is a desiccant designed to dry down the crop before going to processing. Organic farmers typically wait for the plant to die naturally, often by frost, and separate whatever weeds might be in the field using the combine and allowing the crop to dry in a ventilated storage bin.

Through processing, thorough clean-outs and record keeping is followed to minimize cross-contamination with conventional crops, and each facility is required to comply with organic regulations right down to the use of facility cleaning products.

Are your beans GMO?

No. Under the Canadian Organic Standard, genetically modified (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) crops are explicitly banned. Therefore, certified organic crops are free from GMOs by default.

What is SHARE Agriculture Foundation?

We chose SHARE as our non-profit partner based on the ethos of global citizenship to “think global, act local”. SHARE was established by Canadian farmers, for farmers in South and Central America who face diverse challenges ranging from crime to climate change. Ben Cullen, founder of Cullen’s Foods, has personally travelled to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize on various monitoring trips to witness the projects supported by SHARE first hand, which is what inspired the 1% of sales commitment to this entirely volunteer-run non-profit. You can learn more about SHARE at www.shareagfoundation.com.