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AGRICULTURE REPORT - September 24, 2002: Soybeans - 2002-09-23

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Soybeans are a valuable part of the world’s food supply. They are grown in many countries. The major producers are the United States, Brazil, China and Argentina. Many food products are made from soybeans. For example, oil from soybeans is the largest single source of vegetable oil in the world.

Twenty percent of the soybean is oil. Fatty acids in the oil are thought to protect against heart attacks. The solid substance that remains after the oil has been removed from soybeans is called soy cake or meal. It has a large amount of protein, about forty percent by weight. Often the soy cake or meal is used to feed animals.

Young soybean plants, called sprouts, are a popular food in Asian countries. The sprouts grow from dry beans. The beans are placed in water for about twelve hours and then placed in a covered container for five to ten days.

Water can also be added to crushed whole soybeans to make soy milk. It has about the same amount of nutrients as cow’s milk.

But it has less fat than cow’s milk. And it does not harm people who have a bad reaction to a substance in cow’s milk called lactose.

Other products can be made from soy milk. One of them is soy curd, better known as tofu. Tofu can be cooked, dried or frozen to make many different kinds of food.

Other products are made from soybeans in a process similar to making alcoholic drinks. One of them is soy sauce. It is a dark brown liquid that has a salty taste. Soy sauce can be added to many meats and vegetables. In many countries, soybean protein is mixed with maize and wheat to produce a very nutritious food. In Guatemala, the mixture is called “incaparina.” In Ethiopia it is called “faffa.” In Bolivia it is called “maisoy.” And in South Africa it is called “pro nutro.”

The very large increase in soybean production is due to the increasing popularity of soy as food oil and as cake for animal feed. In addition, soy protein is low in cost and has many nutrients. Eating more soy beans can mean better nutrition around the world.

You can get more information about soybeans from the group Volunteers in Technical Assistance. You can contact VITA through the Internet at its world wide web address, w-w-w dot v-i-t-a dot o-r-g.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Gary Garriott.