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Soy Joy: April is Soy Foods Month!

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Soy Joy: April is Soy Foods Month!

Though actually used during World War II as a substitute for the protein found in rationed meat products, remember when the mere mention of soy for dinner (as in tofu or tempeh) elicited strange looks from just about everyone you knew? Today, though long the bailiwick of vegetarians and vegans, soy products are on the tips of a lot of other tongues, and products are certainly front and center in nearly every aisle in the grocery store. Clearly soy and its many manifestations are an industry unto themselves.

Bursting with potassium (3,342 mg. per cup), devoid of fat, high in protein, fiber, and packed with iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, soy (often called a “superfood” because of its nutritional punch) can be found in everything from appetizers to snacks (roasted, salted edamame is a snack habit worth cultivating) to main dishes and even desserts, not to mention soy milk, yogurt, and cheese, and an unparalleled bowl of miso soup. So just how did this native East Asian bean evolve from taboo tofu to the versatile, heralded health food star it is today?

In 1765, Samuel Bowen, a sailor with the East India Company, and Englishman James Flint, first brought soybeans from China to the U.S. Bowen is said to have gone on to cultivate the crop near Savannah, Georgia. During the Great Depression, soy was used to help regenerate drought-stricken dust bowl soil because of its nitrogen-fixing properties. Farms at that time needed to increase production to meet with all the government demands for soy and in fact Henry Ford was among those at the helm of the soybean industry. Spending approximately $1,250,000.00 on soybean research, by 1935 every Ford-manufactured car used soy: soybean oil was used in paint, as fluid for shock absorbers, and in soy-based plastics for auto body panels. In fact auto industry trendsetter Ford is credited with producing the very first commercial soy milk, ice cream, and all-vegetable nondairy whipped topping!

Soy is used in oils (soybean oil is high in alpha-linolenic acid — an Omega 3 fatty acid), in meal for livestock feed, in flours, and more. Its effect on cognitive function, cholesterol, and cancer is an ongoing debate, but those who incorporate soy foods into their diets claim largely to do it because they wish to include the protein without leaning heavily on meat — and because it tastes great! Nowadays, almost anything you can think of has a soy doppelganger, so to speak, and the list just keeps growing.

(Continued Below)

Indulge in these yummy, easy, healthy recipes to celebrate April: National Soy Foods Month!

Spicy Edamame (Soybean) Dip
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
16 ounces shelled edamame beans (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Pita chips and crudités for dipping

In a medium skillet over medium heat, roast the garlic, turning frequently, until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and then slip off the skins. Set aside. Bring about 8 cups of water to a boil and drop in the beans. Bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water before draining. Drain the beans and cool. Transfer garlic into a food processor and coarsely chop. Add the beans, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, pepper and process in food processor. Add olive oil, lime juice and cilantro and pulse to combine. Add the reserved water a little at a time while processing until smooth (you may not need to add all of the water). Dip away!

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1 Yvonne { 04.06.14 at 6:24 pm }

I would’;nt touch anything gmo, with a 10ft. pole. And 90% of all soy is gmo. I don’t trust any of it any more. They don’t tell the truth. When we as consumers stop using their product, mabey they will get the idea, We don’t want their poisin.

2 sara bug { 04.03.14 at 9:48 pm }

Soy that is organic is usually non-gmo also tofu brands that are good are Na Soya, West Soy, Wild Wood and Woodstock…also I agree with Ali above fermented soy such as miso paste is really good for you just be sure to purchase organic…

3 Bryanna Clark Grogan { 04.03.14 at 10:31 am }

It is not true that the only healthy soy foods are fermented ones. Read and

If you are concerned about GMO soy, buy organic soy products. Products and foods cannot be labelled “organic’ if they contain GMO foods.
From the NEW True Food Shopper’s Guide
(The True Food Network of The Center for Food Safety (“An environmental and public health organization which has initiated landmark legal actions against the FDA and EPA to preserve the integrity of the food supply.”)

Other than corn, no GM grains are sold on the market. Look for
100-percent wheat pasta, couscous, rice, quinoa, oats, barley,
sorghum, and dried beans (except soybeans)

Tips for avoiding GM crops
Certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GMOs. Therefore, when you purchase products labeled “100%
organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic ingredients,” all ingredients in these products are not allowed to be produced
from GMOs. For example, products labeled as “made with organic ingredients” only require 70% of the ingredients to
be organic, but 100% must be non-GMO. (This is true in Canada as well, according to friends of ours who run a certified organic orchard.)

4 Rebecca { 04.02.14 at 1:28 pm }

Attn: Beth Herman

I would like to use your comments on soy in an article on health for our church. IF I quote my source would this be all right?

5 Ali { 04.02.14 at 11:41 am }

Best to eat fermented soy, for health, if u can find non-GMO soy.

6 Phyllis Greiner { 04.02.14 at 10:34 am }

What soy is non GMO?

7 Carl Arn { 04.02.14 at 10:14 am }

What soy is non-GMO?

8 Soyfoods Association { 03.31.14 at 11:45 am }

Thanks for the great article – you even treated us to some history we didn’t know, and we live this stuff! Just wanted to note one quick correction: soy isn’t devoid of fat (unless it is a defatted product), but it IS devoid of cholesterol and is low in saturated fat. Thanks!

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