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TDG: The Billion-Dollar Myth: Soy


Fat Guy
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Soy vey.

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Be sure to check The Daily Gullet home page daily for new articles (most every weekday), hot topics, site announcements, and more.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This is good stuff that should be compulsory reading for vegans everywhere.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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Does anybody know why the government started subsidizing soy production in the first place?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This article has some good points. As with any "health fad" overuse of a product can be dangerous. To me, a lot of this stuff is common sense. If there are people out there who are eating mass quantities of soy product or anything that has soybean oil in it, then they clearly are overusing the product, and have no idea about nutrition whatsoever.

I know a little about nutrition and soymilk, enough to know, that it does not have as much calcium as milk (i buy fortified soy milk), that it doesn't have B12 (only animal products have the B12 humans need), and that no food is the magic food. And, most vegans and health freaks I know, know this stuff.

I think the danger with soymilk is the general uneducated public who think that soymilk is the magic food that will solve their nutrition needs.

Edited by ErinB (log)
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I don't know what to think. I would agree, however, that the benefits of the Asian diet can be located in the frequency of fish and broth in their diet. But Ms. Planck forgot to mention all the leafy greens they also consume--bok choy, e.g.

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I know a little about nutrition and soymilk, enough to know, that it does not have as much calcium as milk (i buy fortified soy milk), that it doesn't have B12 (only animal products have the B12 humans need

I buy Silk brand soy milk, not because I am lactose intolerant, but because I ingest a huge amount of cholesterol in restaurants, so at home I've opted for alternatives that contain little or no cholesterol. I like the taste of it in cereal, or to use for hot chocolate. Their nutrition label says that an 8 ounce glass contains 50% of your daily B-12 requirement. This is part of the fortification, as soy does not contain B-12 on its own. I have heard that miso and shitake mushrooms both do contain B-12, though probably not as high a grade of it as animal products. I could probably never be a vegan, but my instincts tell me that the way they eat makes them less likely to develop heart disease or cancer than omnivores. My instincts also tell me they may be deficient in certain vitamins. I kind of admire the way they eat, though I can't stand the way many of them propagate their "ideology". You can be a member of a church and admire the celibacy of the priests while never planning to go celibate yourself. Anyway, try Silk, it's the best tasting soy milk in my opinion.

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Sounds like some of the frutarian and vegan screeds that have been turning up recently.

Soy oil is produced with immense heat and pressure in a process called extraction. Heat-treated oils go rancid -- in other words, they spoil -- and rancid oils are carcinogenic. (Vegetable oils like olive oil must be cold-pressed to prevent this damage.)

Next, the rancid soy bean oil is chemically altered, or hydrogenated. That means the liquid oil is blasted with hydrogen to make it solid at room temperature, like butter.

Just because an oil can go rancid does not defacto mean that it is instantly rancid as soon as it is produced. "Next, the rancid soy bean oil is chemically altered." ???

Since when is MSG a "Brain Poison" and "associated with brain cancer?" This has been one of the most studied and tested compounds of the last 30 years, and the only negative impact was a sensitivity in about 1% of the population. You talk about the "true" Asian diet but don't bring up the fact that they've been cooking with MSG for thousands of years.

"Endocrine Disruptors?" The role of endocrine disruptors and human disease has not been fully resolved; however, at present the evidence is not compelling. It has resulted in crappy plastic wrap that won't cling to anything tho...

Granted the effects of trans fatty acids on health look to be pretty bad, and the marketing of soy based products seems to be preying on concerns of health concious aging boomers, but it does not enhance credibility to cite questionable if not disproved "facts."

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Just because an oil can go rancid does not defacto mean that it is instantly rancid as soon as it is produced.

As I understand this issue, industrially produced oils (the oils that require high heat, pressure, and chemical exraction) are highly susceptible to oxidation. They become rancid, or oxidized, quickly, and by consuming them you also ingest the free radicals that have been linked to some health problems (the reason foods high in antioxidants are widely agreed to be healthful).

The possible traces of proven carcinogens like hexane is another reason for avoiding industrial fats.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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they've been cooking with MSG for thousands of years

I thought the ingredient MSG was invented in Japan in the early 20th Century, but on the larger point I do agree that the health claims against MSG have been pursued relentlessly but never proven. Like you, I had several points of disagreement with the Planck approach to the argument -- for example I'd have preferred not to see a Fast Food Nation-esque attempt to blame every problem in the world on capitalism -- but at the same time I think she gets the overall point right, and I find it particularly amusing that the vegans and their ilk are complicit in the spread of this fraudulent unholy goo.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I buy Silk brand soy milk, not because I am lactose intolerant, but because I ingest a huge amount of cholesterol in restaurants, so at home I've opted for alternatives that contain little or no cholesterol.

Drink junk soy milk if you like it, but please don't do it because you think cholesterol is bad for you. It isn't! Cholesterol does not cause heart disease.

Read up on the truth here:

The Cholesterol Myths

The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics

And tomorrow, enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast again.

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they've been cooking with MSG for thousands of years

I thought the ingredient MSG was invented in Japan in the early 20th Century...

From a paper published on the Emory University website:

...(T)he use of MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) in food goes back to the Asian cooks of antiquity, who used seaweed called Sea Tangle to make a starch. The link between the seaweed (Laminaria japonica) flavor improvement, and glutamate, (first isolated in 1866) was discovered by Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the University of Tokyo in 1908. (Amerine 115). The Japanese began production of glutamate almost immediately, although 30 years passed before it was produced in North America, from corn and wheat gluten...

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Soy is off my list of things to eat. As a (sorta) low carb eater, this means I can't eat alot of the imitation pastas and such. But I don't eat it b/c of my mother. She was taking supplements for menopause, heavily soy based. She kept getting cysts in her breasts. Eventually she did some research on her own and asked if she could try something else instead of the soy supplements (black cohosh, I think, but don't quote me). The cysts haven't come back. What she had learned was that while soy may have some benefit in preventing cysts and similiar growths in certain people, in those with a propensity towards cysts (for instance my family all has PCOS), it encourages the growth of cysts. Lovely, huh? I don't have any references, so obviously take this as hearsay. But simple imperical evidence in my immedate family is enough for me. So now I have an excuse to avoid my vegetarian friend's imitation meats. :biggrin:

Edited by Allura (log)

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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There are lots of apparently unsupported points in this screed until you get to the end and see a couple of crackpot cites/sites. Oh my. :blink:

I hear tinfoil beanies are helpful in preventing the Evil Big Food's soy-based brain-poisoning mind control rancidity rays from penetrating your skull. I read it on a website, so it must be true. :hmmm:

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Didn't read all the articles so excuse me if they were discussed, but the whole soy lobby destroyed the "tropical oil" --a term they coined-- industry because of the lack of market share to be gained by the importers of "tropical oils." Tropical oils refers to oils made from palm, palm kernel and coconut oils. In the 1980s, the American soybean industry was worried that foreign tropical oils would replace their oils and take money from the American farmer. So a public relations firm working for the American soybean industry was concerned that "tropical" oil sales were going to surpass soybean oil as the number one fat. So many foods appeared with the label "contains no tropical oils." Later the U.S. Federal Trade Commission made that label illegal because there was an implied health claim that tropical oils are harmful and there is no evidence to back it up. In fact, the total amount of tropical oils in the U.S. diet was about 2%; substituting the most unsaturated fat would have a negligible effect on serum cholesterol. The whole issue was a trade war and not about health effects.

Tropical oils are used in foods for functional reasons. They are excellent for shortening because they don't get rancid easily, they produce flaky pastry and good color on fried foods, and they don't give a greasy feel to crackers. It is difficult to substitute most other vegetable oils for the tropical ones because their polyunsaturated fats have a short shelf life. To prolong the shelf life, manufacturers convert soybean oil in your food to partially hydrogenated which is harmful to your health because it may increase your risk for a heart attack and certain cancers.

The amount of tropical oils in the U.S. diet is so low that there is no reason to worry about it. The countries with the highest palm oil intakes in the world are Costa Rica and Malaysia. Their heart disease rates and serum cholesterol levels are much lower than in western nations. This never was a real health issue.

The whole food supply is controlled by a very few GIANT corporations able to manipulate people for their benefit. These corporations are basically untouchable by any legal means --witness the tobacco industry (aka RJR nabisco) and its ability to fend of settlements for billions of dollars without even batting an eye. They still thrive in spite of all the deception.

Edited by dave88 (log)
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Does anybody know why the government started subsidizing soy production in the first place?

Same reason they subsidize so many farm crops. This, as I understand it, goes back to FDR's New Deal, when they instituted price supports. The result was that, since prices were high, production increased to the point where there were surplus crops simply being dumped. This led to subsidization.

Willard Cochrane is a leading expert on agricultural economics -- supply, demand, imports, exports. Here is one link: Click!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Thanks for the replies.

Capitalism has been good for lots of things - including the market for local foods, which must live and die by customers paying good money for those foods. London Farmers' Markets (my farmers' market organization in London, England) is a private company, for example. My parents make a living selling vegetables in the free market.

But in following how soy becomes a health buzz word, it pays to know where the interests lie.

I highly recommend The Cholesterol Myths, recommended by one comment. And I did enjoy my duck egg in tallow for breakfast, with a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar.

I also highly recommend unrefined, never-heated coconut oil. It is not only stable at high temperatures (and therefore a healthful frying oil; it also contains healthful essential fatty acids and is anti-viral and anti-microbrial. Coconut oil (like other saturated fats such as butter) is also more readily used as energery than olive oil (ie not stored in the body) so it can help people stay slim. See www.lauric.org or The Good Fats Cookbook (McCullough) for more.

There was a question about the origins of MSG - a known neurotoxin. Here is its natural source, and how it came to be an all-purpose flavor enhancer.

I quote directly from The Washington Post Food Section Science writer, Robert Wolke, 4 September 2002:

He calls it 'Protein's Taste.'

"In 1907, chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University wrote, “There is a taste which is common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat but which is not one of the four well-known tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty.” He named it umami, from the Japanese word umai, for “tasty.” It has since been characterized as everything from meaty to savory and even chicken-brothy. Undoubtedly, some of the early opposition to accepting umami as a legitimate taste stemmed from our inability to describe it in words, which gave it a somewhat mysterious aura. But just try to describe what salt tastes like without using the word salty.

Ikeda was able to extract the essence of umami from the seaweed kombu; it turned out to be a family of chemicals called glutamates (glu-TAM-ates), which are salts of glutamic acid, one of the amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins (see box below). No less a slouch at business than at chemistry, Ikeda sold his formula for making monosodium glutamate (MSG) in 1917 to the Ajinomoto Co., which still supplies about one-third of the world’s 200,000 tons of MSG per year. You can find it labeled Ac’cent in your supermarket.

Because of high glutamate content, such foods as mushrooms, tomatoes, fermented soy sauce (not all soy sauce is fermented) and Parmesan cheese, especially Parmigiano-Reggiano, deliver whopping umami kicks to our cooking.

Glutamic acid is the most common among the 20 or so amino acids that make up all animal and vegetable proteins. Wheat protein, for example, contains more than 30 percent glutamic acid (named after wheat’s gluten), while the proteins in milk and meat contain about 20 percent and 15 percent glutamic acid, respectively. But proteins are generally huge molecules, and we can taste only molecules that are small enough to “latch onto” the taste-receptor molecules in our taste buds. So proteins become tasty only after they are broken down into their component, small-molecule amino acids. This happens, for example, during cooking meat or fish, fermenting soybeans, maturing fruits and ripening cheese.

Unknowingly, the virtues of umami have been exploited by humans for thousands of years. The Greeks and Romans made a sauce called garum, or liquamen, by salting and aging a mess of fish and fish guts. The salt draws out liquids, the liquids ferment and the proteins break down both physically and chemically into their flavorful amino acids, mostly glutamic acid. Similar fish sauces -- among them the pissalat of Provence, nuoc-mam of Vietnam, nam pla of Thailand and nuc nam of China -- are still used as flavor boosters. They’re all absolutely loaded with umami."

Moral? Eat traditional and fermented foods for the B vitamins they contain and, like thousands of humand before you, for the great taste of MSG - a taste all humans crave.

Best wishes, Nina

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they've been cooking with MSG for thousands of years

I thought the ingredient MSG was invented in Japan in the early 20th Century, but on the larger point I do agree that the health claims against MSG have been pursued relentlessly but never proven. Like you, I had several points of disagreement with the Planck approach to the argument -- for example I'd have preferred not to see a Fast Food Nation-esque attempt to blame every problem in the world on capitalism -- but at the same time I think she gets the overall point right, and I find it particularly amusing that the vegans and their ilk are complicit in the spread of this fraudulent unholy goo.

Just because someone gets an overall point right means that they can put forward unsubstantiated, unreferenced claims and downright untruths as fact? Because vegans and their ilk are involved it's ok to call glutamic acid, only the most common excitatory neurotransmitter in the nevous system, a known neurotoxin and say it's bad for you? Scientific claims are usually peer-reviewed for a reason.

regards,

trillium

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I There was a question about the origins of MSG - a known neurotoxin.

Nina,

I'm familiar with Wolke's column on MSG, as well as other recent pieces (Jeffrey Steingarten's for one). Which studies have you read that lead you to conclude that MSG is "brain poison"? And why is this a neurotoxin, while naturally occurring glutamates are safe?

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Exactly. If glutamates and glutamic acid are fine in "natural" forms, what is it in the extraction process that turns them into "brain poisons"? Absent some logical argument substantiated by data, this doesn't pass the smell test.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Thanks for the replies.

But in following how soy becomes a health buzz word, it pays to know where the interests lie.

I highly recommend The Cholesterol Myths, recommended by one comment. And I did enjoy my duck egg in tallow for breakfast, with a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar.

I also highly recommend unrefined, never-heated coconut oil. It is not only stable at high temperatures (and therefore a healthful frying oil; it also contains healthful essential fatty acids and is anti-viral and anti-microbrial. Coconut oil (like other saturated fats such as butter) is also more readily used as energery than olive oil (ie not stored in the body) so it can help people stay slim.  See www.lauric.org or The Good Fats Cookbook (McCullough) for more.

I agree. It's funny how people seem not to address these points! The interests lie within the soy/agribusiness lobbies!

Again, the whole soy/agribusiness industry is in question here. These flourishing corporate monopolies are the single most influential factor in the way people make decisions.

Edited by dave88 (log)
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On the general issue of presentation of unscientific or unproven data as facts, I hold to Newton's view of the world :smile: Every action provokes an equal and opposite reaction. The manufacturing lobby has spent vast sums of money promoting their scientific inexactitudes, half-truths and half-lies, so I have zero problem with someone like Nina countering that position.

Now I have something puzzling me on the topic under discussion. I had always understood that there was once a legume called a soya bean (from which soya sauce was derived and so on; then the GM industry took this plant and genetically modified it into a different thing, and to differentiate it they removed the "a" from soya and called it soy.

Is this right ? Is soy a genetically modified form of the naturally occurring soya ? Is the soy bean to which Nina's article refers a GM food ?

Nina's article certainly rasies some interesting and important questions. The article is very US-centric, and obviously it is written for the US market. My own perception is that the "myth" as she calls it is far less mythical in the UK :smile: I believe that the public here are far less "into" soy than the Americans, and more aware of the artificial nature of this "food", and maybe even more resistant to its use in general foodstuffs.

I'd be interested to hear Nina's comments on the UK dimension.

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On the general issue of presentation of unscientific or unproven data as facts, I hold to Newton's view of the world  :smile:  Every action provokes an equal and opposite reaction. The manufacturing lobby has spent vast sums of money promoting their scientific inexactitudes, half-truths and half-lies, so I have zero problem with someone like Nina countering that position.

Surely, you're not suggesting it's in any way justifiable or OK for her to counter that position with her own made-up stuff and half-truths, are you? I frankly question whether her article was all that worthy of being posted on this site, and until she provides a satisfactory explanation for some of her more purple prose, I won't be satisfied. It's my impression that the article contained at least some statements that were not even half-truths but simply false. Once again: What is it about the process of extraction that changes "good" "natural" glutamates into the "brain poison" called MSG?

The best way to counter bullshit is with truth, not opposing bullshit. It does seem to me that there is an honest, accurate case to be made against soybeans. I don't think that fertilizing that case with bullshit will help it to grow up to be a healthy case.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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