Voter ID Laws Will Suppress Votes

Voter ID laws will in fact prevent more legitimate votes than fraudulent votes — by several orders of magnitudes. Identification is harder to get than you think in your comfortable home. Identification doesn’t prevent any kind of election fraud that is common. Voter ID laws use your belief in fairness to suppress legitimate voters.

This post somewhat angrily inspired by a Metafilter post on this topic. Many links taken from the ProPublica post on the subject

There’s Almost Fraud That an ID Would Prevent

In five years, only 86 people have been convicted of some form of voter fraud, mostly mistaken registration — the “fraud” being that the registrant didn’t understand they weren’t eligible to vote. The rest were a couple cases of voting twice and vote-buying schemes. Voter identification does nothing to stop these kind of fraud. The only kind of fraud that an identification card can prevent is someone voting as someone else. But the risk of getting caught are huge — what if the actual voter has already voted? What happens when they try to vote and find they’ve already voted? Considering most voter fraud is a felony (often federal), how would someone trying to sway an election find enough people willing to risk this? If you wanted to change the outcome of an election, you wouldn’t do it by using our “lack” of voter ID requirements to vote fraudulently. You’d attack electronic voting machines; you’d pay for a misleading robo-call to voters telling them to the wrong precinct to vote in (or day — both of these have happened); in small elections, you’d make sure your people count the vote. You would not pay a bunch of people to go pretend to be registered voters.

There Are More People Without ID Than You Think

Elevent percent of eligible voters don’t have state-issued photo identification that would allow them to vote under several states’ voter ID laws. Many also don’t have ID valid even under less stringent non-photo requirements. Many of them are poor. Many are elderly who have never had to have ID. Many are minorities.

Until a few months ago, I was one of them despite not being poor, elderly or a minority! I had a California drivers license still which I’d had for years, but I hadn’t yet bothered to get a Washington one. If Washington required ID to vote (it doesn’t as we vote by mail), then I wouldn’t have been able to vote.

It’s Harder To Get ID Than You Think

If you have a good-paying job with the ability to take a few hours off (or you don’t work during normal business hours), then you might think getting an ID is easy. But not everyone is you. Even people who you might think it easy to get ID have a hard time. I’m going to start with my situation a couple years ago, and then add on a few very common complexities.

When I moved to Washington, I didn’t immediately get a Washington drivers license to replace mine from California. I didn’t really need it and when I looked at the requirements, I was blocked by one: I needed proof of residence. That should be easy, right? But, it wasn’t, not even for me. The list of allowed proof has since changed, but at the time the following didn’t count: a rental lease agreemment (no really!) which I didn’t have anyway because I moved in with my boyfriend; a cell phone bill (power or water bills counted, but I didn’t have these in my name as they were in the landlord’s); or a pay stub (doesn’t prove you actually live in the state).

But really, that’s not much of a barrier. I bought a house not too long after and then I had all the residency proof I needed (at this point the rules changed and I didn’t need it anymore). But what about someone who always lives with roommates and never has bills in his name? But let’s pretend we’ve got proof of state residency.

What else might I need to get a state ID? In most states you need some proof of citizenship or legal residence in the country (I usee a passport now — something only a minority of Americans have). When I got licenses in Arizona and California I had to show something that proved by place of birth. That’s usually a certified copy of a birth certificate, which until I was eighteen I didn’t have a copy of! We had an old photocopy, but it wasn’t official. I had to write to the county where I was born (and pay money) to have some certified copies made.

Now imagine I didn’t actually know what county I was born in. This isn’t crazy. If your parents died when you were young (or had to give you up for various reasons including crime, drug abuse or neglect), you might not know. Maybe you do know, but can’t afford to pay for copies. Or can’t afford whatever requirement that county has to get certified copies — the county I was born in required a copy of state-issued photo ID (!) to prove I had a right to my birth certificate or an affadavit from someone else that I was who I said I was. I don’t recall how we got around that one, but I had plenty of time and money to manage it. I asked for several copies though so I wouldn’t have to go thru the process again!

Okay, so now we have proof of residence and proof of citizenship (or legal status). How do we get the actual ID? You go into an office. That was easy for me: I just took the bus downtown before work (I can basically come in whenever I like). What if I have a job that isn’t so lenient? What if that job uses up most or all of my time during DMV business hours? What if I don’t have flex time or even much paid time off? Worse, what if I live an hour or more away (by whatever transportation available to me)? What if I live hours a way in a rural location? What if the extended family only has a couple cars to go into town and no one can lend you one for the day trip it takes to go to the DMV? I guess you’re not voting if your state requires state ID!

I really recommend thinking about how you got your last ID. Then consider what you would have done if you were less fortunate in any particular. You might say voting is so important you would take time off (unpaid) or risk getting fired to register to vote. I don’t think that’s a reasonable expectation.

Voter ID Laws Will Prevent Legitimate Votes Being Counted

The evidence is mixed. In Pennsylvania, up to nine percent or so of voters might be prevented by their new ID law. Nate Silver is seeing rates of 0.6% to 2% of votes depending on the state and demographics of voters. Nate Silver (see previous link) doesn’t think it likely that, for example, Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law will change the outcome of the presidential election. In some states that adopted photo ID early, 1,300 votes were discarded — and these are from people who bothered to cast a provisional ballot even though they knew the lack of ID would make them invalid and doesn’t count the likely many more who didn’t even bother to go to the polls. Regardless of what numbers you look at, it is certain that far more legitimate votes will not be counted (or never cast) because of identification laws than illegitimate votes prevented.

Yes, This Matters

There is almost no fraud an ID law would prevent. Identification requirements don’t stop people from mistakenly or fraudulently registering (even that kind of fraud is incredibly infrequent). It doesn’t stop people from skewing elections using illegal campaign tactics like telling a voter the wrong place or time to vote. An ID card doesn’t stop money being used to buy off a local race by paying a bunch of people to cast their ballots a particular way. It doesn’t stop the use of money to mislead or lie to voters.

All a voter ID requirement does is tell some citizens that they aren’t worth as much as others because of the lack of government-issued ID. It’s great you want to vote, but please spend a lot of time and money getting an ID first. You need to dance for the government before we’ll let you influence how that government is run1.

Voter ID laws make it harder for commonly disenfranchised voices from being part of democracy. If they actually prevented a significant amount of fraud, I might be able to get behind it. Even states with absolutely no identification requirements2 see little in the way of fraud. All I see in voter ID laws is a misguided belief that identification makes an election cleaner. Identification laws only make elections more complicated and prevent some people from voting. It’s a poll tax whether or not we call it that.

  1. I realize in many states the identification rules include all kinds of ID, some not even state-issued. But the reality is that many people don’t have any of the forms that are accepted. Remember: not everyone has a bank account or a job or even a place to live.
  2. In a vote by mail state, you don’t have to show ID. Even worse, someone could just steal your mail and vote as you!

Half Cheater Baked Beans

I’ve actually made baked beans a few times now, each time tweaking a recipe (i.e. using a specific recipe as a base but then heavily modifying) but I’ve never written it down until this past Independence Day. So this time I did. Like the black bean burgers, the base for the recipe was the Veganomicon. But I borrowed ideas from Vegan Soul Kitchen and Rancho Gordo’s bean book.

Rancho Gordo’s method (and many on the internet) call for entirely cooking the beans during baking. That is, you start with dry beans in a baking dish, put in a bunch of liquid and seasonings, then let it bake for hours. I do mean hours: this method can easily take twelve or more hours and you have to watch it the entire time (topping up liquid mostly). I’ve made them this way and honestly it’s a pain. Further, I’ve discovered that a simpler method tastes as good (no doubt I will be corrected on this point).

Veganomicon calls their recipe “cheater” baked beans because you use canned beans and just bake them with pretty simple seasonings. Since I I mostly keep dried beans on hand, I was obviously going to use those. Further, the Veganomicon recipe doesn’t really try to develop the flavors of the seasonings outside the baking dish. I know from making curries and chillis that cooking your onions well, cooking with spices and then making a “gravy” is a very effective way to make something flavorful. So with this recipe you’re basically making a sweet and tangy tomato gravy that is pour over cooked baked beans into a baking dish. Then that dish is baked until the liquid reduces.


Amount Ingredient Notes
1 pound (dry) Beans Last week, I made a double batch so used an entire pound each of white navy and small red beans (not kidney). But I’ve used other varieties with success. Experiment!
2 small Yellow onions, diced fine
6+ cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 15 oz can Tomato sauce I used an unsalted tomato sauce so if you use salted, you may need less salt.
1/4 cup Maple syrup Real maple syrup. See below for notes on sweetener
1/4 cup Sorghum syrup
2-3 teaspoons Yellow mustard, prepared The stuff you put on hot dogs works fine, but feel free to experiment! The Veganomicon calls for mustard powder for example but there are many kinds of prepared mustards.
1 teaspoon Chili powder I used a chipotle variety for the smokiness
1 teaspoon Salt
To taste Black pepper Don’t you hate it when recipes say to put black pepper in to taste? The reality is many recipes call for it, I never really measure it and I have no idea why I put it in some things. Anyway, I probably put in close to half a teaspoon or more of freshly ground black pepper.
2 tablespoons Lime juice I keep little glass bottles of lime or lemon juice around. But really this is calling for something tangy and sour, so many substitutions would probably work.
1 tablespoon Vinegar I actually used a splash of “salad vinegar” which is a slightly sweetened rice vinegar the Japanese grocery sells.
1 tablespoon Bragg’s “Liquid Aminos” We call this “hippie juice”. It’s similar to soy sauce and adds glutamate (“savory”) but has a bit different flavor. You could probably also stir in some nutritional yeast instead or soy sauce.
1 tablespoon Henderson’s Relish This is a vegan worcestershire seasoning that a very awesome friend from Sheffield, England gave me a few years ago. You could probably just substitute more Bragg’s.
As needed Water This is to top off liquid levels during baking.
As needed Oil I believe I used peanut oil but honestly any vegetable oil would be fine.

A Note on Sugars

The synthesis of the recipes I’ve looked at in general calls for more sugar than I have here — probably more like a full cup for this quantity of beans between the maple and sorghum. I’ve used that much sugar before but it was just too sweet for me (though apparently my guests didn’t think so!) Further, while I’m using maple syrup and sorghum here, that’s only because it’s what I had on hand. Other sugars I’ve seen in various recipes are molasses (duh), brown sugar, agave, honey, plain brown sugar and more in various combinations. I’ve even seen recipes that use only brown sugar, which doesn’t seem like it would have enough flavor. There are various online calculators that will let you convert between sugars (especially dry to liquid) but really I say just experiment! Since I’m out of sorghum the next batch of beans probably won’t use it.


  1. Cook the beans in stock. I use a pressure cooker and we have oodles of homemade veggie stock. You can use water and it probably won’t matter. Much. 🙂
  2. Cook onions in a fair bit of oil (couple tablespoons probably) until getting golden and at least some edges areare getting a little brown.
  3. Add garlic and the dry spices. Stir around and let it “fry”. The oil will seep out the edges.
  4. Add the tomato sauce and sugars. Let cook.
  5. Stir in liquids like lime juice, henderson’s and bragg’s. Let it cook a few minutes, stirring infrequently. You might taste it at this time and adjust flavors, but keep in mind the chile flavor will get spicier most likely. Note that the above amounts are in fact adjusted for how I decided to adjust the flavors at this stage, so you should too!
  6. Move beans into baking dish.
  7. Pour the the onion and spice gravy over it. Scrape out pan well.
  8. Top up liquid and stir around in baking dish. I didn’t need to this time, but especially if you use a granulated sugar you might have to.
  9. Bake in 350F oven uncovered (you might want a drip pan) until SPECTACULAR.

I say until “SPECTACULAR” because you’re basically just checking and stirring every 20-30 minutes. Eventually the beans will no longer be in a liquid so much as a creamy gravy of awesome. When you open the oven you will have to stop yourself from diving in and burning yourself. It will however take hours.

Summary: Traditional baked beans take half a day. Cheater baked beans take an hour or so. Half cheater baked beans take a few hours more but are worth it.

Should We Use Clothianidin?

If you google “clothianidin” you’ll find that more than half of the results (even on the first page) are stories about how the pesticide kills bees and the EPA is (or was) covering it up. You might immediately conclude that it’s inconceivable that we haven’t banned it already.

But deciding whether to ban something requires value judgements that hopefully balance rights, risks and benefits (and hopefully include non-human considerations). This should be obvious: a lot of things kill bees and we haven’t banned all of them, even though bees are very useful to us as well as having some right to exist on their own. So the decision to ban clothianidin can’t be based merely on the fact that it harms bees, but needs to consider how it’s used and whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

In my previous clothianidin post, the thrust of the piece is saying that we need some kind of pesticide and since clothianidin is better than alternatives, we should use that. But if the pests clothianidin might control are easily controlled by other less harmful methods (or aren’t even normally a problem), then the argument falls apart: the risks to bees are basically not worth it under any circumstances. So that’s what I want to figure out. Do we really need it and what is the cost to bees? Is that trade-off worth it?


This topic will span multiple posts as I discover more research or think of new questions. To start, though, what are the questions we need to answer? Note that I’m primarily considering the use of clothianidin as a seed-coating on maize (corn), though it is used with other crops as well. I’m also assuming that maintaining high yields is a constraint — that is, I’m not considering the option that we could just go organic and everything would be fine. I’m dubious that current organic agriculture could actually grow enough corn to meet demand (without using a lot more land). Arguably if we stopped feeding so many animals, we wouldn’t need so much corn, but I see no way to make that happen any time soon. Thus, we “need” high corn yields because other societal choices (i.e. to feed animals and to make bio-fuels) have constrained our options. This is the context under which I’m considering these questions.

On to the questions!

Pests & Yields

  • What pests are seed-coatings of clothianidin protecting crops from? What kinds of damage do these pests do?
  • How common are these pests? In what regions? Is the pest pressure high or low?
  • Does clothianidin seed-coating improve yields and under what circumstances? Surprising (to me), grain yield is not the only consideration (but see below).
  • Does clothianidin seed-coating work better than alternate chemical insecticides? Have pests in many regions developed resistance to the alternatives and to what extent?
  • Are there workable and less dangerous alternate methods of control? This could mean alternate chemical pesticides or biological pesticides such as fungi, nematodes or wasps. It could also mean something as simple as rotation to different crops.

Unintended Effects

  • What is the damage to bees? What avenues of damage are there from clothianidin to bees? Can we mitigate them (e.g. contain pesticide-contaminated dust during planting)?
  • What kinds of harm do alternatives to clothianidin do to bees? Are they in general more or less harmful?
  • Similarly, how does clothianidin affect organisms other than bees? What risks are there from the alternatives to clothianidin?

Choices on the Farm

  • How routinely is clothianidin seed-coating currently used? Is it used more often than alternate methods of control (e.g. soil application of a pyrethroid pesticide) before it was available?
  • Does making the pesticide cheaply available (by only marginally more expensive seed coatings) increase overall use of pesticides because there’s less apparent cost to the farmer? Is it easier to unnecessarily apply a pesticide if the farmer doesn’t have to apply it himself?
  • How common are clothianidin seed-coatings? What percentage of seed corn gets routinely coated? Can farmers easily obtained uncoated seed?

There are probably more that I’ll think of later as I learn more. Surely those are enough for now! For this post, I’m going to start on some of these questions, but I’m under no illusions that I can answer any of them right now. For one, it’s pretty clear the research needed just doesn’t exist yet.

Pests and Damage

Question: What pests are clothianidin seed-coatings good for? What damage do these pests do?

The following is a table of major maize pests that clothianidin may control, largely taken from a couple references12 and the linked pages. I really recommend reading some of the links because most are from university-affiliated agricultural extensions and give a good idea at just how complex agriculture is and what we ask farmers to do. Plus there are pictures of bugs!

Pest How it affects maize
Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica spp.) Larvae eat the roots, possibly causing plants to lodge. Adults prefer to feed on the reproductive tissues in adult corn: silk, pollen and kernels. The corn rootworm is the most economically relevant maize pest that clothianidin is used for. There’s even a scale for judging the degree of root damage.
Seed corn maggot (Hylemya platura) Larvae bore into seeds and eat them, most commonly a problem in wet, cold conditions that delay germination.
Wireworm (Melanotus spp.) Larvae eat seeds and seedlings.
Black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon) Larvae eat stems of seedlings, cutting them off.
White grub (Popillia japonica) Larvae eat seedlings.
Corn flea beetle (Chaetocnema spp.) Beetles feed on foliage and transmit Stewart’s wilt, a bacterial disease.
Chinch bug (Blissus leucopterus) Feed on foliage, weakens plant.
Corn leaf aphid (Rhopalosiphum madi) Suck sap from plants, doesn’t generally cause economic damage.

Improving Yield

Question: Does clothianidin seed-coating improve yields?

Maize is primarily a feed and biofuel crop. It’s a “commodity” crop where generally the goal is high yields, reliably. So I had thought the question here was to find comparison studies in different regions of the country (or world) where clothianidin is compared to alternate methods and whether it improves yields. I have found some studies on this (though not as many as I’d like) but I also found out that yield isn’t the only consideration.

A study from the manufacturer, Bayer, definitely claim that yields are improved and pest damage reduced when using clothianidin as a seed-coating, as compared to their choices of controls (Andersch 20032). Under corn root worm pressure, they claim more than 60% increased yield than no treatment for corn rootworm and significantly more than most other pesticides they compared against (e.g. tefluthrin, a pyrethroid). However, their trials that don’t involve corn rootworm pressure (14 locations across the corn belt) seem to not show 60% gains over untreated seeds and closer to 20% (Figure 18 in Andersch 20032) suggesting pest pressure isn’t that high in many places. Further, its ability to prevent root damage was fairly similar to other chemical insecticides.

What about other research? There’s not nearly as much as it as I expected and the best is fairly regionally specific. But to get my head around it, I want to list out each relevant result and basically what it means.

Yield in New York

A trio of papers by W. J. Cox et. al.345, were examining corn forage yield and quality in test plots in New York. The results are basically mixed and clothianidin seed coatings weren’t clearly helpful.

Corn Forage Yield in Rotation with Soybean

In “Clothianidin Seed Treatments Inconsistently Affect Corn Forage Yield When following Soybean”3, the authors are attempting to see if clothianidin improves corn forage yield. Being nearly ignorant of the topic, I learn that this is different than just yield (which I thought of in terms of kernels of corn produced). When growing corn for forage the leaves and other parts of the plant matter, not just the number and quality of kernels. Corn forage can mean feeding cows straight on the corn plants or fermenting it into silage. Various measures are used to judge the quality of forage including moisture, total dry matter, and others related to dairy production. There’s even science that lets farmers calculate estimated milk yield based on the quality of forage6 The corn is often grown more densely than it would be for grain. It being the internet age, you can get a quick basic summary of corn for forage and silage online from many university agriculture extensions, such as this factsheet from Ohio State and this one from University of Missouri7.

Cox et. al. note that maize is often subject to cold, wet springs in the northeastern US which delays germination and puts the crop more at risk for seed corn maggot and other pests. These pests could affect forage yield. The experiment, repeated over two years, was basically a grid of two corn hybrids either treated or not (the hybrids themselves had a Bt trait) grown in fields the year after soybeans. The authors collected plant matter or counted plants at different stages of growth and reported dry matter and other important values. The results, however, are inconclusive as to whether the clothianidin helped. Emergence was improved the year that conditions were poor (one year in the experiment had that cold, wet spring and the other didn’t) but no real significant effect on dry matter by silking stage when both years are included. Corn forage quality (the part the dairy people would care about) was not improved.

I don’t understand the statistics well enough to assess the correctness8, but they do seem to have considered a lot of variables and the results just look mixed. I do have one concern: they did not measure or otherwise determine how much pest pressure there was during the experiment. Since soybeans were previously grown on the field, it’s possible pest pressure was low enough that a pesticide wouldn’t be expected to help much. That said, if that’s the case, then it’s a good reason for seeds to not be routinely coated with a pesticide. However, the authors note that in 2006 apparently 35% of the corn seed sold by Pioneer in New York (with 40% market share) was coated with clothianidin. This study suggests it might generally be unnecessary.9

Corn Growth in Rotation with Soybean

In “The Effect of Clothianidin Seed Treatments on Corn Growth following Soybean”4, the authors are analyzing the same experiment as the above from a different angle. They are trying to determine if the seed coating negatively affects growth under low insect pressure, but possibly under poor (wet, cold) conditions. Previous research suggested this might be the case. To cut to the chase, they found no negative effects but only marginal improvements in any measurements and do not recommend routine clothianidin seed coating.

Corn Forage in Continuous Corn

In “Seed-Applied Insecticides Inconsistently Affect Corn Forage in Continuous Corn”5, they test corn forage yield under severe corn rootworm pressure. Fun fact: if you plant a mixture of corn and pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L) it will attract corn rootworm beetles! Thus, the experiment involved planting the corn-pumpkin mixture one year to use that plot the next year, now full of rootworm larvae, to test effectiveness of the insecticides. The experiment was otherwise pretty similar to the others: plant a grid of two hybrids treated or not with different pesticides, then measure various things at different stages of growth. The results were, again, mixed. While the insecticide treatments (including clothianidin) seemed to decrease root damage, they didn’t explain variations in dry matter yield. Basically none of the differences between experimental plots were terribly significant and clothianidin is not clearly an improvement. The authors do note that wireworm and seed corn maggot were likely not present in sufficient numbers to greatly affect plant density so the only pest of interest was the rootworm.

A Couple More Studies, Please?

I truly haven’t found that many studies look specifically at yield: lots showing various pesticides affect pests, but not what the yield effects are. One I haven’t read10 yet, again suggests inconsistent yield results, but in the absence of pests. Another11 seems to tantalizingly have some interesting results12.

So I don’t really know much yet about this question! The answer so far seems to be “it depends and maybe only under severe pest pressure”. If you read some of those pest pages from university agricultural extension programs (or google about the pests), you find advice on how to measure pest pressure to decide whether to use controls for particular pests.

Next Up?

I don’t promise to post on this in any particular schedule. There’s a paucity of data on some questions so I may not get to some of them at all. There is a body of research of the effects of neonicotinoids on bee species (which so far is a bit less worrisome than the activists would claim, though still pretty worrying) so there will be some posts on that. I haven’t looked much at the choices available to farmers or whether ease of use affects popularity. Regional data on pest pressure seems to be scattered and somewhat unavailable but I should try to collect some. Considering the social pressure to “do something” about the bees, this is a topic that clearly needs more investigation.

  1. Jeschke, P., Nauen, R., Schindler, M., & Elbert, A. (2011). Overview of the Status and Global Strategy for Neonicotinoids. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(7), 2897–2908. doi:10.1021/jf101303g. PubMed.
  2. Andersch, W., & Schwarz, M. (2003). Clothianidin seed treatment (Poncho®) – the new technology for control of corn rootworms and secondary pests in US-corn production. Pflanzenschutz-Nachrichten Bayer, 56, 147–172. PDF. 2 3
  3. Cox, W. J., Cherney, J. H., & Shields, E. (2007). Clothianidin Seed Treatments Inconsistently Affect Corn Forage Yield When following Soybean. Agronomy Journal, 99, 543–548. doi:10.2134/agronj2006.0170 Abstract, PDF 2
  4. Cox, W. J., Shields, E., & Cherney, J. H. (2007). The Effect of Clothianidin Seed Treatments on Corn Growth following Soybean. Crop Science, 47, 2482–2485. doi:10.2135/cropsci2006.12.0810 Abstract, PDF. 2
  5. Cox, W. J., Shields, E., Cherney, J. H., & Cherney, J. R. (2007). Seed-Applied Insecticides Inconsistently Affect Corn Forage in Continuous Corn. Journal of Agronomy, 99, 1640–1644. doi:10.2134/agronj2007.0104 Abstract, PDF 2
  6. Can you imagine how mind-blown a farmer from the 1500s would be if you told him that you could weigh some stuff and measure some other things and tell him about how much milk his cows would produce? There’s even a spreadsheet freely available (warning: slow loading Excel).
  7. After looking into this topic, it’s easy to see why production of beef and dairy are two of the largest greenhouse gas sources: there’s a lot of energy going into growing animal feed even when the cows are just eating corn plants straight out of the field.
  8. I’m hoping to improve in this area. How hard could statistics really be?
  9. Apologies for the possibly excessively long summary (“get to the results!”) but there’s lots of interesting things you need to know … and I left out a lot! Go read those papers!
  10. Wilde, G., Roozeboom, K., Ahmad, A., Claassen, M., Gordon, B., Heer, W., Maddux, L., et al. (2012). Seed Treatment Effects on Early-Season Pests of Corn and on Corn Growth and Yield in the Absence of Insect Pests. Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology, Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology, 24(4), 177–193. doi:doi: 10.3954/1523-5475-24.4.177 Abstract
  11. Maa B L, Melochea F,and Weia L. (2009). Agronomic assessment of Bt trait and seed or soil-applied insecticides on the control of corn rootworm and yield. Field Crops Research, 111(3), 189-196. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2008.12.006 Abstract.
  12. At some point, I will be a bit less shy about contacting authors. I suspect there’s a lot of information, not just non-open journal articles but databases and search engines I don’t know about, that’s just not easily available to a non-expert.

Black Bean Burger Experiment

Some friends and I are planning to have a barbeque this Wednesday for Independence Day (like half the country no doubt). Since my partner and I are unlikely to want to eat meat burgers, I said I’d bring some veggie burgers. I’d planned to just slightly tweak the Veganomicon recipe but had an awesome thought earlier today: I have rye berries in my pantry and I bet they’d be tasty. But I shouldn’t inflict that on unsuspecting guests without testing, right? Fortunately, black bean and rye berry burgers are fantastic. See inside for an approximate recipe.

My method of cooking is to take recipes and modify them at will depending on what I have or like. Sometimes it fails horribly but most of the time it works pretty well. The last time I made the Veganomicon recipe, it was a little bland and had too much gluten flour in it, so I knew I’d need to experiment. All amounts here are fairly approximate because that’s how it goes for me.


Amount Ingredient Notes
1 cup (dry) Black beans Don’t worry much about overcooking.
1/2 cup (dry) Rye berries Cook until tender, took me 30+ minutes at a simmer.
1/2 cup Bread crumbs
1/2 small Onion, finely diced Original recipe calls for grated.
2 cloves Garlic, minced fine Original recipe calls for grated.
1 teaspoon cumin powder Probably used a bit more than this.
1 teaspoon chili powder I used mixture of chipotle and new mexican.
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup gluten flour You can make seitan from this! But don’t here.
4 teaspoons tomato sauce Original recipe called for 1 T tomato paste.
1 teaspoon water


  1. Cook the black beans and rye berries (separately).
  2. Put rye berries and beans in a bowl and mash. Leave some half-ish beans, but not to many or it won’t stay together.
  3. Add all the dry spices: cumin, chili powder, salt.
  4. Add the onions, garlic and bread crumbs and stir it up a bit.
  5. Add the gluten flour and tomato sauce and water.
  6. Mix together well, working it a bit to develop the gluten.
  7. Form into patties. This should make about six that are 2-3 inches across and almost an inch thick.
  8. Heat a pan. I used a cast iron griddle pan. Coat with a little bit of oil.
  9. Cook each burger 2-3 minutes per side.
  10. Serve.

Serving Suggestions

Okay, actually this will be serving suggestion because we really only had them one way. Toasted light rye, some Karam’s Garlic Sauce, a bit of melted jalapeno-jack Daiya cheese and some sauteed onions. Actually for the second one I had some spicy onion jam.

For the barbeque I will probably add a bit more gluten flour and work it more to ensure it stays together better. I’m thinking about roast garlic spread for a topping. Maybe there should be some grated beets or pees in the burger. But it’s hard to think about modifications with a full stomach.