According to a 2007 CNN story, “Soybeans, usually in the form of oil, account for an astonishing 10 percent of our total calories in the United States.” It was very different a hundred years ago when soybeans were a new crop in the U.S. Here’s some excerpts from a 1917 magazine article promoting the use of soybeans. (Back then “soy” and “bean” were two separate words.)
Soy: The Coming Bean
The soy bean, also called the soja bean, is a native of south-eastern Asia, and has been extensively cultivated in Japan, China, and India since ancient times. The beans are there grown almost entirely for human food, being prepared for consumption in many different ways.
The soy is a coming bean if not the coming bean. It is on its way to arrival in the American kitchen and dining room.
The outstanding fact of importance to consumers of food in the United States today is that a nutritious, palatable, easily grown (and therefore eventually cheap) legume is being recommended by the food experts. Pressure of circumstances has revived interest in foods and combinations of food of which the majority were old and have been forgotten. The soy bean, however, is to practically all American cooks and to the large body of food manufacturers an entirely new product.
Good Housekeeping (September, 1017)
8 thoughts on “Soy: The Coming Bean”
Two nations divided by a common language again. In the UK we call them soya beans. I cook with soya bean curd, but I can’t get excited about the beans, which seem pretty tasteless to me, compared with say kidney beans, haricot beans or chick peas
It is amazing how much food choices have expanded even since I was a kid. Where I grew up, Italian was the only foreign food we ate.
Soybeans were a standard field crop when I was growing up in Iowa, but they had two primary purposes: feeding animals, and returning nitrogen to the soil. Fields planted in corn eventually would be planted in soybeans, and then corn again.
I didn’t eat a soybean until I moved to Texas, and discovered them, roasted and salted, in a small local shop. They made a terrific snack — much tastier than potato chips, and I suppose more nutritious, too.
Soybeans can be tasty in a baked bean recipe with hot dogs,or in a veggie soup. I find canning them before use helps with the tenderness of the bean.
I’ve always enjoyed miso soup, and have learned to cook the miso base a few different ways. When cooking vegetables in a pot, miso, garlic, and a little bacon fat are a great combination.
I almost didn’t recognize the single soybean plant. A more common sight for me is a field full of them. The 100-year-old words were a prophecy that came true.
The prediction came true. I never heard of soy beans growing up but now I embrace them and even put them in salads.
How interesting that soybeans were the new ‘thing’ in the US a hundred years ago.