And Other Fun Facts They Don’t Want You to Know About Soy
1. This year’s Los Angeles Tofu Festival stars a blocky “Mr Tofu,” a spongy fun guy who says “it’s hip to be square.” Has soy fried his brain or have things changed since I took geometry in 1967? Looks like a cube to me!
2. Last year’s mascot was Tofuzilla, a giant blob who descended on Little Tokyo, which fortunately is still standing.
3. The year before that, Ninja Tofu bid us “unleash the SECRET POWER of tofu.” A secret all right!
4. All those guys are anticlimactic though after “Fresh Naked Tofu” of 2003. PG rated, of course, due to missing naughty bits. Not the kind of guy equipped
“to fu . .”
5. For next year’s festival, I propose “Sponge Brain, Square Pants” in honor of the incredible shrinking brains scientists have found among tofu-eating elders.
6. Although tofu is marketed as sexy today, it’s invention was anti sex. Lord Liu-An of Hua-nan China, was a ruler and inventor committed to adding a low-cost protein to the vegetarian monastic diet.
7. Soon after, the aptly named “meat without a bone” appeared on monastery menus as an aid to spiritual development and sexual abstinence.
8. Seems the monks noticed that when tofu consumption went up, the naughty behavior went down!
9. And that’s why Japanese wives serve extra helpings of soy to straying husbands.
10. What else might soy be good for? Feeding politicians with the zipper problem, of course.
11. Just think if Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky had eaten soy. It could have saved a lot of embarrassment to his presidency.
12. Taking thyroid medications? Don’t eat soy or at least don’t eat at the same time. Doctors know that can cause a “push-pull” effect on the thyroid that can stress it out, and even cause a “blow out.”
13 The Israeli Health Ministry wants its citizens to obey the Biblical injunction to “be fruitful and multiply” and has warned parents and pediatricians to limit consumption of soy foods for young children and adults and for babies to avoid soy formula altogether. The reason for their concern: soy’s known contribution to infertility.
14. And now the French kiss of death for soy: Out this month, the French Food Agency wants warning labels on packages of soy food and soy milk, particularly products marketed to children.
15. But soy was one of the Five Sacred Gains of ancient China, right? Yes, indeed, but it was not honored as a food — like rice, millet, barley and wheat — but as a “green manure” with nitrogen fixing roots. Soy as a food came much later in human evolution, in China around the second to fourth century BC.
16. Over in Japan around 500 AD, the goddess Oketsuhime Mikoto gave birth to fermented soybeans for the benefit of future generations. Was that a “virgin birth”?
17. Asians traditionally used whole soy foods thoUgh soy oil was extracted in the good old days. Not for cooking but for kerosene type lamps, to make soap, caulk boats grease axles and lubricate machinery.
18. Soy oil making was done by eunuchs in the palaces.
19. As for the leftover soy protein, the eunuchs fed it to the palace animals to fatten them up as quickly as possible.
20. President Sukarno of Indonesia once admonished his fellow citizens, “Don’t be a tempeh nation.” Although people of all classes ate this indigenous dish, Sukarno and others of his class considered it a food for the poor.
21. Soy went west when traders, missionaries, botanists and other travelers brought soybeans back from China and Japan. Guess what they used it for: mostly ballast on ships. Or as a culinary or horticultural curiosity.
22. In 17th century France, soy sauce became the “secret seasoning” used to fuel romantic intrigues at court banquets.
23. In the U.S., soy was heavily promoted by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a married man and lifelong virgin who regularly warned followers that sex was not only immoral but health depleting.
24. Henry Ford produced a Soymobile out of soy plastic but failed to strengthen that plastic with spinach. Or improve its smell with soy sauce.
25. Indeed it smelled so bad drivers wouldn’t take it as a gift. Seems it had a “strong odor reminiscent of a mortuary.” Guess we could say Ford’s carma ran over his dogma!
26. Ford often appeared in public sporting a tie made of soy fiber, and he once made a pubic appearance in a suit tailored out of soybean-fiber cloth.
27. Although the Detroit Times reported, “He is as delighted as a boy with his first pair of long pants,” the truth was another soy story. The suit was itchy when dry, smelled like a wet dog when damp, and was so prone to ripping that he could not bend over or cross his legs.
28. Vegetarian Adolf Hitler was a fan of soy, but considered soy margarine “unnatural.”
29. The Communist party in the Soviet Union once pushed soy protein and soy margarines as the solution to low-cost feeding of the masses and called the soybean “our young revolutionary Chinese ally.”
30. In 1973 Richard Nixon went to Japan and alienated US soybean farmers by confessing he had never seen, much less eaten, a soybean.
31. Soybeans quite naturally taste beany and greasy with bitter aftertastes and other deal breakers. Hardworking food scientists though have found ingenious ways to make soybeans palatable with sugar and other additives. The tasks are many: to improve and disguise the color, flavor, “bite characteristics,” “mouth feel” and aftertaste.
32, Even the soy boys admit their products are missing something. As a booster told a writer for the New Yorker in 1985, “There’s something about the soybean that just seems to put a lot of people off. You know if soybeans are in storage along with cereals, rats will always eat the soybeans last. Even the rats don’t like us.”
33. Nabil Said, PhD, Director of Research and Development at Insta-Pro invented a “value added “ product made of animal poop and soy protein that was transformed into an animal chow. Although Said finds this development exciting, fears of mad cow disease and other problems have kept bean turd production small.
34. The 1973 movie Soylent Green starring Charleton Heston is a cult classic. That too featured a revolutionary “value added” product — soy protein improved with ground up human corpses — which led to the shocking ending: “Soylent Green IS PEOPLE!”
35. Our FDA approved a soy-prevents-heart disease health claim in 1999 yet keeps a “Poisonous Plant Database” in which there are nearly 300 references to soy. Does the left hand there know what the right hand’s doing?
36. In his Far Side collection Unnatural Selections, cartoonist Gary Larson appeals to tofu haters everywhere when he depicts a hunting scene with the punch line, “in sudden disgust, the three lionesses realized they had killed a tofudebeest — one of the Serengeti’s most obnoxious health antelopes.”
37. The satirical magazine The Onion — “America’s Finest News Source” — offers up “13 of the most popular items for meat-shunning Americans,” to wit: “Approximeat, Roast Almost, Prosciuttofu, Rocky Mountain Soysters, Kielbeancurdasa, Soystrami, Misteak, Fake-un Double Cheesebulghur, Neauseages, Mockwurst, I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Dead Animal, “Tofuck You, Meat Lover, Nofu– The Tofu Substitute.”
38. Natto’s a healthy soyfood, but so odoriferous that many Japanese restaurants require natto eaters to sit apart from other patrons.
39. Is soy milk made in Willy Wonka’s Soymilk Factory? Measure the sugar in a glass of soy milk and it will weigh in at anywhere from a teaspoon to more than a tablespoon.
40. Vegan soy cheese products incur the wrath of reviewers, who have described these imitations as “barely edible,” “yukky,” “disgusting,” “plastic,” “rubbery” and “smelling like old, stinky socks” Yum!
41. Don’t like the flavor and aroma of traditional soy foods? The soy industry plans to come out soon with a “Non-PU Bean.” The LSTAR hybrid soybean is on its way,“naturally deodorized “ and readymade for food manufacturers who wish to eliminate that embarrassing inner bean odor and put greater amounts of soy flour and soy oil into food products.
42. American ingenuity has created ersatz meat and dairy products with names like Soysage, Not Dogs, Fakin’ Bacon, Sham Ham, Soyloin, Veat, Wham, Tuno, Bolono, Foney Baloney and, just the thing for a vegan Thanksgivingl, Tofurky.
43. As for ersatz dairy, think Ice Bean, Hip Whip and Tofurella.
44. Humorist Dave Barry has described a soyburger as “a well-constructed extremely cylindrical frozen unit of brown foodlike substance. Dave recommended it highly to anyone who either “needed more soy” or wanted a “backup hockey puck.”
45. Back in 1979, the US military dictated precise specifications for purchase of 60 million pounds of ground beef extended with soy protein concentrate at a level of 20 percent. The military approved SPC — even though it is considerably more expensive than soy flour — for two reasons: “better taste and lower flatulence potential.”
46. In an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa, the vegetarian, goes to a vending machine for a snack and buys a “Soy Joy” energy bar. The wrapper does more than make inflated health claims, it boasts “Now with gag suppressor.”
47. “Eat Here, Get Gas.” Many health experts believe soy burgers, soy hot dogs, TVP chili and other modern soy products provide high octane fuel. Figures released by the American Oil Chemists Association prove them right! SPI (soy protein isolate — the ingredient you most often find in veggie burgers, energy bars and other modern products — contains some 38 petroleum compounds including, but not limited to: butyl, methyl and ethyl esters of fatty acids, phenols, diphenyls and phenl esters, abietic acid derivatives, diehydroabietinal, hexanal and 2-butyl-2-octenal aldehydes; dehydroabietic acid methyl ester; dehydroabietene and abietatriene. The American Oil Chemists Association did not provide data on what kind of mileage soy eaters can expect.
48. In the late 1970s, the Federation of the American Society for Experimental Biology (FASEB) concluded that the only safe use for soy protein isolates was as a binder and sealer for cardboard boxes. No one then would have ever guessed soy protein isolate would be the product sold in those boxes!
49. Afraid to eat up that soy oil in your cupboard? You needn’t throw it out even though it’s sure to be rancid. Joseph Mazzela, an eighth grader who exhibited at the 2002 California State Science Fair, proved old vegetable oils can shine as lubricants for skateboards, bikes, boats, cars or door hinges.
50. In 1967 North Dakota legislators pressed for a law that would have forced margarine manufacturers to dye it pink or green. Yellow was reserved for real butter, and legislators thought it best that consumers not be fooled.
51. Robert Novak a medical entomologist at the University of Illinois, reports soy oil is an excellent mosquito killer. If that seems unfair to mosquitoes, consider this buzz from the soy industry: that soy could later save them from developing cancer, heart disease, hot flashes and osteoporosis!
52. And now “The Mysterious Case of the Squirt Attacks.” A Brisbane, Australia, man was arrested for repeatedly squirting soy sauce at another man in a shopping mall. The victim told police he did not know the man or agree to — or in any way encourage — a soy sauce squirting game. The soy sauce assailant refused to talk to police or explain his behavior in court. He was ordered to pay $300 so the man could buy a soy-free new pair of trousers and pay a fine of $150.
53. Soy is an incomparable gas producer — the King of Musical Fruits. Accordingly research dollars have poured into studies with titles such as “Flavor and flatulence factors in soybean protein products,” “Effects of various soybean products on flatulence in the adult man,” and “Development of a technique for the in vivo assessment of flatulence in dogs.” Test subjects included rats, college students and other animals. “Containment devices” have included gas tight pantaloons sealed to the skin at the waist and thighs using duct tape and equipped with two ports.
54. Soy eaters who complain that their favorite foods make them gain weight and pass gas at the same time will soon have their prayers answered with a hot, new product named Thermobean. It’s a gas-suppressing legume-protein formula that’s literally full of beans — and the enzymes that will not only make those beans behave but go to work fueling your body generator.
55. Get wind of this! Texas inventor Frank Lathrop came up with the perfect solution to the soy flatulence problem — a seat cushion known as the Toot Trapper Billed as a “reverse whoopee cushion,” it is packed with a carbon air filter that is guaranteed to absorb odors and stop toots in their tracks.
56. Pandas in zoos have problems mating and becoming pregnant. Rather than look at the soy in the panda diet, however, the researchers are doing behavioral therapy and even showing the pandas videos of humping pandas.
57. Like edamame, those green vegetable soybeans found in the freezer case at your store? The Chinese considered them useful to kill bad or evil chi
58. Bumper sticker time: “Soy, Aspartame, Vioxx – FDA Approved!” “Soy – Not Worth Beans!” “No Soy is Good Soy! “Soy Infant Formula – Formula for Disaster.” “Real Men Don’t Eat Tofu!” “Oy, Soy, Veh!”
59. Gotta stop thinking about soy. Going crazy. Soy loco!
60. My wish this Christmas 2006? No Soy to the World!
© copyright 2006 Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN
Kaayla T. Daniel PhD, CCN, is The Whole Nutritionist® and The Naughty Nutritionist™ and the author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food (New Trends, 2005) where many of these facts first appeared. A popular guest on radio and television, she looks forward to reporting on next year’s Los Angeles Tofu Festival, where she hopes to meet Mr. Tofu and write a “tell all” about him. She can be reached at 505-984-2093 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is www.wholesoystory.com