When I was about thirteen or so, my family went to the county fair and my mom entered a contest where the winner would receive a $50 bag of groceries (or something like that). All you had to do was correctly guess which of the variety of displayed foods did not contain soy products. There were probably twenty or so products all velcroed up on a display board. I wish I could remember the variety of foods on the board, but in truth I actually remember only one – the one with no soy. Now maybe it wasn’t quite fair, but my mom is a food nut from the get go and her degree is, in fact, in food science. However, she ended up being the only person who correctly identified Marshmallows as being the only food without soy and won the contest.
I grew up in and still live in Indiana where the soy bean is king. Farmers make money around here by producing, in a rotation, corn, soy beans and winter wheat. I fully respect and support that my family and friends are able to make money by producing soybeans. But you won’t see them in my garden or in our hobby farm (when we have one). If you check my cupboards and pantry, you won’t find soy products lurking (except in processed foods that have soy added anyway – we haven’t completely left the processed world yet). I don’t serve soy to my family or eat it myself – with the except of occasional soy sauce – because I don’t value its merits over its problems.
Merits of Soy
The first merit of soy is that it can be used as a protein (and is, in most processed foods) and the FDA approved soy to carry a health claim – that soy may reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. The official claim is that “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Soy is a very adaptable food – everything from soy sauce to infant formula is made with a soy base. During the Great Depression, the folks in the Dust Bowl were able to use the nitrogen-fixing nature of soy to regenerate the soil – which enabled them to grow more crops and cut down on the dust storms. Soy is a great fertilizer, which also helps agriculture. Henry Ford, of the Ford Motor Company, spent over $1 million on soy research, and soybean oil was used to paint Ford cars and was used as fluid for shock absorbers. See, soy is great.
So why don’t I like soy? And why don’t I eat it?
My Big 3 Problems With Soy
The first issue I have with soy is that humans consume only a very small amount of the crop directly – that means that the crop has to be fiddled with, through a wide variety of ways, in order for the food to be consumed by humans. I do not like my food to be fiddled with. In order for a food to qualify for me to eat it, I want to be able to eat it in its most pure form – I grow green beans in my garden, and I walk right out and eat them from the plant. But I sure as heck wouldn’t eat a soy bean!
The second issue that I have with soy is using it as an alternative infant formula. I’m a breastfeeding supporter all the way, but when I went back to work after having my son, I wasn’t able to pump enough milk for him during the day. I didn’t have a low supply, I just lacked the finesse to pump apparently. We were told to supplement formula from the get-go, but we didn’t want to do that (ok, I didn’t want to do that) because it gave our son terrible stomach problems. So we were told to switch to soy – unfortunately, my son had an intolerance for the dairy protein, and the soy protein is very similar in shape to the dairy protein, which means he wouldn’t be able to digest that either. Besides, the high level of phytic acid – the same acid that attributes to soybeans being able to reduce cancer, minimize diabetes and all that jazz also prevents the digestive system from being able to uptake the good stuff – like calcium, magnesium and zinc.
The third big issue I have with soy is that a very large percentage of the soy grown now is genetically modified. For example, in New Zealand, every soy infant formula is made using genetically modified soy. In the US, the only soy that is guaranteed not to be genetically modified are the products marked as “organic soy”. I do not like to drink genetically modified milk, I do not like to eat genetically modified meat and I refuse to eat genetically modified vegetables – these are the very simplest of products, you plant them, tend them, harvest them and eat them – but look at all the balderdash that has been added in just to make soy palatable, beneficial and important! I do not like having the wool pulled over my eyes, do you?
Is That All?
Soy is a complex little bean. It has been exalted as being a miracle crop, as a health food and has also been dragged through the mud for the same claims. It’s very versatile – it has even been used to make artificial silk. I reject soy because I don’t like artificial things, I don’t like fake things, I don’t like things pretending to be other things. I also don’t want to eat isoflavones – they are phytoestrogens in soybeans that masquerade around like female estrogen. There are many claims around the natural health world that soy products can affect the female menstrual cycle, cause occurrence or recurrence of breast cancer and also affect pre- and peri-menopause. To make it worse, raw soy flour is found to be carcinogenic to rats – although cooked soy flour is safe. For me, changing a substance to make it safe, doesn’t make it good.
In closing, I fully respect the value that soy has brought to the midwest. I know many families would not be able to thrive without the benefits of the soy bean being king. I just want to the soy bean to return to being an industrial crop and stay the heck out of my food. Where did I get my information? Quite a bit I used from the sources listed at the bottom of the Wikipedia article on Soybeans. I’m not one to tout Wikipedia, as it is a living, changing document, but I do trust the sources when I read them and see them for myself. AllCreatures.org has information on how to stay away from genetically modified foods – and specifically genetically modified soy. And, of course, you know my good old buddy the FDA, although I did not take much information from them because I do not trust them on the subject of soy.
There you have it, the reason that I don’t do soy. I’d love to hear your comments! I hope you’ll follow my food journeys on the #foodtruth hashtag on Twitter. In fact, check out my profile on Twitter – I’m @way2gomom. I’d love to hear from you! That’s all for today, and for my #Mamavation Sistas, this is the Food Truth Diva – signing out.
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