Soy to the World!
Written by ELIZABETH FIEND
You wait and wait, eagerly anticipating your favorite time of the year, and suddenly, it’s here! April is National Soy Month, the most delicious month of the year!
Soy is one hell of an amazing plant, one that’s been part of the human diet for over 5,000 years. But it’s much, much more than just veggie burgers. The soybean is also used as food for livestock and it has all the properties of petroleum — except unlike petrol, soy is biodegradable.
Wow, doesn’t knowing that you could fuel up your car or feed your cow with it make soy even more mouth-watering, appetizing and desirable to you?
This bean’s potential is astounding.
Ben Franklin was so intrigued by the story of a “cheese” made from a bean he acquired some seeds, soybeans actually, and sent them to his West Philly homey John Bartram’s estate. Ben also sent along directions on how to turn the beans into curds, aka tofu.
Despite Ben’s efforts, soy never really caught on in Ye Olde America, and was primarily grown for livestock feed and oil until food shortages during WWII stimulated interest in the plant as a source of food for human beans.
Tofu, which had Ben so jazzed up, wasn’t sold in an American supermarket until 1958. Not coincidentally, I made my own debut that year.
Franklin was only one great thinker (and eater) who was intrigued by the potential of the plant from Asia. Both George Washington Carver and Henry Ford donated a great deal of their lives to this marvelous bean.
Carver, the African-American educator and agricultural genius, began investigating soy in hopes it would become a crop newly-emancipated slaves might use to gain financial independence. His soy products include candles, soups, coffee, cheeses, ice cream, flour and oil. (click to see my and my own article on GW Carver)
Henry Ford also had a million projects going on involving soy and dedicated the last two decades of his life to the bean. Among other things, he unveiled a car made with soy-composite body parts in 1941 and was known to be out and about town in a suit spun out of soy.
As a food, soy can’t be beat. It’s packed with more protein than any other bean. In fact, the soybean is the only plant food source that contains ALL of the nine essential amino acids, making it equal to the protein from animal sources. But unlike animal products, soy has no cholesterol and is much lower in saturated fat.
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