Soybeans, seemingly ordinary plant beans, have great nutritional value and are used in making many things. When they started being grown in the United States, the farmers would use them as cattle feed, and today, they are used in a variety of processed foods for human consumption. They are even used to make soy ink, which is used in printing textbooks and newspapers.
The soybean, sometimes also known as soya bean, originated in southeast Asia. Chinese farmers were the first to grow the plant in about 1100 B.C. In the beginning of the first century, Japan and many other countries also started growing it.
According to an ancient Chinese legend, the soybean’s nutritious value was first discovered by a couple of traveling merchants approximately 5,000 years ago. Around 2838 B.C., the soybean was discovered as a useful ingredient for medicinal purposes. Soybeans are rich in many nutrients; in fact, the proportion of some nutrients in soybeans like amino acids is almost equal to that of meat, milk and eggs.
Soybeans in America
The British settlers brought soybean seeds from China and planted them in the colony of Georgia in 1765. Prior to that, soy sauce had been quite popular in the British colonies and Europe. In 1851, some farmers in Illinois and the corn-belt states started planting soybean seeds on a regular basis. The seeds of these soybean plants were distributed by a crew member who had been rescued from a Japanese fishing boat.
According to the Ganyard Hill Farm website, the United States grows approximately 70 million acres of soybeans every year. The soybean has officially been declared a cholesterol-lowering food item by the Food and Drug Administration. The United States is home to 45 percent of the soybean acreage in the world, according to My Indiana Home.
Some of the most commonly used and found soybean products in the market include soy meal, soy flour, tempe, tofu and soy milk. Soy sauce, which is used in many cuisines, particularly Asian, is also made from soybeans. Soybeans are also used to make infant formula, soy cheese, soy cream cheese and meat substitutes. Lately it has been used to make animal feed and biodiesel as well. An interesting fact recorded by My Indiana Home is that 1 acre of soybeans can make about 82,369 crayons.