First cultivated as early as 9,000 years ago, the pea is among the world's oldest crops. Peas belong to the family of cool season legume crops commonly referred to as pulses, which includes lentil, faba bean, bean and chickpea. The pea is native to the Middle East, and has been cultivated in Europe for several thousand years. It is now grown in all climatic zones including the tropics where it is grown at high elevations. Peas are usually boiled or steamed, which breaks down the cell walls, improving flavor and nutrient availability. Peas are also Canada's largest pulse crop, grown over a very large geographic area, including significant portions of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.