By Meghan Malka
April is National Soyfoods Month!? Check out the website dedicated to all the activities and events for educating people about soyfoods throughout the month.? It is full of recipes, information about the health of soyfoods for kids, soyfoods FAQs, videos and more.? We also have lots of exciting events and giveaways, so be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for details.
This year?s theme for National Soyfoods Month is Farm to My Plate.? Soybean production has proven to be a more favorable and environmentally sustainable source of protein because of the high protein quality and nutritional value of soybeans and the efficient use of land, water, and energy of soybean production.
Soy-based foods deliver the highest protein density for human consumption per amount of fossil energy inputs.[i] And among sources of high-quality protein, soybeans use water more efficiently.[ii],[iii]
As the demand for protein increases and water and land resources become more strained, the environmental sustainability of protein sources, such as soyfoods, intensifies.
Soybeans are a high-quality complete protein, which means they contain all of the amino acid building blocks necessary for human growth.? Most other plant-based proteins are not complete proteins.? So you could say soyfoods give you a lot of ?bang for your buck.?? They are better for the environment and for your health.? Supporting soybean growth by eating soyfoods helps to save our water supply and our environment.
Myth: All soyfoods are genetically engineered
Truth: Most soyfoods including soymilk, soy yogurt, tofu, edamame, meat alternatives and nutrition bars don?t come from genetically engineered (GE) plants, or as some people refer to it, genetically modified organisms (GMOs).? You can find these products labeled as ?certified organic? or ?made from non-GMO soybeans.?
Products labeled ?Certified Organic? do not contain GE ingredients and are made from non-GE soybeans.? You just need to check the front of the package or the ingredient list.? You can also check company websites for GMO information of their products.
Here are the facts that may have been confusing: In 2012, 93% of all soybean crops planted in the U.S. were genetically engineered, leaving the other 7% of soybean crops as not genetically engineered.[iv] However, most of the soybeans grown in the United States are used for animal feed, called soybean meal.
According to USDA data on the 2011 crop, 96,080 acres of certified organic soybeans were harvested.[v] U.S. production of soy protein for human consumption accounts for only about 11% of non-GE soybean production.? And in reality, the actual amount of non-GE soybeans used in human food markets may be somewhat higher than these figures because they do not include whole non-GE soybeans used in the production of soymilk, tofu, and other products such as edamame.[vi]
The take away message: Most soyfoods found in your grocer?s aisles are non-GE, as they were grown from non-GE soybeans.? You can purchase foods made with non-GE soybeans by looking at the label of the package for ?Certified Organic? or ?made from non-GMO soybeans.?
The National Soyfoods Month website has a Simply Soyfoods Recipe Book available for download.? Here are a couple of our favorite recipes from the book to get your mouth watering:
by the Illinois Soybean Association and the National Soybean Research Lab
Veggie Taco Salad
by Morningstar Farms
As always be sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more great recipes and interesting facts about soyfoods. Check out our YouTube page featuring with videos hosted by food and nutrition expert Rebecca Scritchfield, RD.
[i] Eshel G and Martin P A. (2006). Diet, energy and global warming, Earth Interactions, 10, 1–17.
[ii] Brummett R E (2007). Comparative analysis of the environmental costs of fish farming and crop production in arid areas. In D.M. Bartley, C. Brug?re, D. Soto, P. Gerber and B. Harvey (eds). Comparative assessment of the environmental costs of aquaculture and other food production sectors: methods for meaningful comparisons. FAO/WFT Expert Workshop. 24-28th April 2006, Vancouver, Canada. FAO Fisheries Proceedings. 10, 221?228. Essay available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a1445e/a1445e00.HTM.
[iii] Liu J. and Savenije HG. Food consumption patterns and their effect on water requirements in China. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 2008;12: 887?898. Online paper available at: http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/12/887/2008/hess-12-887-2008.pdf
[iv] United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Adoption of genetically engineered crops in the U.S. Available at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us.aspx.? Accessed July 30, 2012.
[v] USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Crop Production and Crop Values and USDA, Farm Service Agency, Oilseeds Fact Sheet: Summary of 2002-2007 Program.
[vi] Informa Economics, Inc. Food use of soy protein market study. October 2010.