soy and transfat
I was listening to this story on All Things Considered via NPR's webcast yesterday, talking about how a lot of what we thought about low fat diets in the 90's isn't entirely correct. The important thing to do is to avoid Saturated fats, and focus more on the mono-unsaturated fats. The program breifly mentioned that we should also avoid transfats.
Somewhat unrelated, my roommate was talking about how much he liked Edensoy compared to other Japanese-made soymilks, but it's almost $4 for a box here.
This got me thinking about soymilk, and also about soybeans in general. I knew that a large part of American agriculture was devoted to soybean production, but I didn't know the exact numbers.
'Soybeans are native to southeast Asia, but 45 percent of the world's soybean area, and 55 percent of production, is in the United States of which more than one-third was exported.Soybeans are the most important cash crop in the United States and the leading agricultural export. The bulk of the soybean crop is grown for oil production, with the high-protein defatted and "toasted" soy meal used as livestock feed. A smaller percentage of soybeans are used directly for human consumption, particularly in Asia.Soybean oil makes up 80% of the edible oil consumption in the United States. Soybean oil extraction is performed on a large scale in the U.S. The soybeans are cracked, adjusted for moisture content, rolled into flakes and solvent extracted with commercial hexane. The oils are blended for their applications, and sometimes hydrogenated.'
It just seems like the U.S. wants to take something that initially had nutritional value/unique flavor, grind it, squish it, hydrogenate it, fry it, and make it totally bland and nutritionally void. The part that could be used for food, the meal leftover after extracting the soybean oil, is simply used for live stock feed.
Soybeans are a wonderful food. There are so many ways of using them in different states that it dissapoints me that the U.S. diet sees them as either oil or animal feed. There's edamame, roasted soy nuts, natto, soy milk, tofu, kinako, soy sauce, yuba, abura age, miso, tempeh, and even more than that fairly extensive list. All of these things have really unique flavors, why aren't they more prevalent in the U.S.?
Apparently George Washington Carver decided it was too exotic a crop for the poor black farmers of the South so he turned his attention to peanuts for crop rotation that would replenish the soil with nitrogen and minerals were planted for two years and then cotton on the third year.
Maybe someday, non-hydrogenated, non-oil soy products will be no longers seen as a health food, like yogurt for example, and a part of the american diet. I can only hope.