Educated consumers who want to avoid genetically modified ingredients place trust in organic companies to fully test their products for genuine or non-organic soybean sourcing.
Native to the Far East, soy food comes from soybeans. Traditional forms of soy foods include edamame, soymilk, tofu, and fermented foods such as miso, soy sauce and tempeh. More recently, in Western culture soy has become widely manufactured and available as soy nuts, soy-based protein beverages, soy snack chips, soy cheese, ice cream, and yogurt–all products that have become a main source of protein for vegans, vegetarians, and people with aversions to dairy products.
There are many health benefits and misconceptions acknowledged and dismissed about soy.
Allergies to soy are common and can be compared to other food allergies, such as those to milk, eggs, peanuts, and shellfish. This problem is common among children. In addition, soy products that are genetically engineered and non-organic are believed by some to pose health risks such as the introduction of new allergens, new toxins, and antibiotic resistance.
Soy milk is a better alternative for children than rice milk; it is richer and of higher quality protein. It also includes fiber, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, and folic acid.
Soy foods that have been minimally processed are the best form of nutrients found in the soybean. Such products include edamame and soy nuts.
Soy-manufacturing food producers should be on board with purchasing U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic soybeans. But don’t be fooled by superficially low prices in the supermarket: The Cornucopia Institute released a “soycard” on ratings of processed soy products. Silk, Kirkland by Costco, 365 by Whole Foods Market and O Organics by Safeway all received a zero-bean rating on the quality of their soy milk while Vermont Soy, Organic Valley, and Lifeway soy milk all received excellent to outstanding quality ratings.
In the United States, non-organic soy is processed with hexane, a toxic petroleum-derived solvent that aids in oil and protein extraction. Hexane produces greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. It is also a flammable substance and toxic to workers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies hexane as a hazardous air pollutant. In 2009 there were two explosions–one at soy producing factory in Minnesota and another at a soybean oil factory in Formosa, Brazil.