Soybeans may not be a regular part of the dinner menu, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use them every day. In fact, soy bio-products are all around us, from the vehicles we drive to the make-up we use. Sometimes they even inspire our creativity. There’s “soy” much to celebrate about the magic little bean that we decided to explore a few of its uses.
South Dakota farmers plant a new crop each year, meaning soybeans are a renewable resource. Growing them in a sustainable way is also important to family farms, making soy a greener alternative than petroleum based products. Many use technology to grow healthy and safe food with less impact on the land, air and water. One example is GMO soybean seeds, which are designed to protect themselves from pests and diseases. This allows farmers to apply less pesticides to care for them.
Since we all benefit from being more sustainable, let’s look at five ways soy enhances our lives.
Soy puts meat on our tables. Since animals outnumber people in our state, it makes sense to start with animal feed. Soybeans are considered a complete protein source because they contain all nine essential amino acids in just the right proportions. Pigs, poultry, dairy cows and even farm-raised fish munch on healthy and nutritious soy as part of their balanced diets.
Soy keeps us looking young. Many of today’s top cosmetic and family brands – L’Oréal, Aveeno, Neutrogena and The Honest Company – use soy in their products because it’s rich in vitamin E and antioxidants. These elements fight against free radicals, even skin tone, stimulate collagen and help heal scars.
Soy enhances our food. Did you know when you buy vegetable oil at the grocery store, it’s almost always made with 100% soybean oil? There’s a reason soybean oil is a top choice for cooking. It’s a heart healthy option that’s neutral in flavor and rich in unsaturated fats. It’s a great choice for sautéing meat and vegetables, and helps create our favorite sweet treats. Soybean oil contains lecithin, which binds chocolate and cocoa butter to make candy bars.
Soy fuels our diesel vehicles. South Dakotans are known for their forward thinking when it comes to biofuels. Corn ethanol led the way and now soy biodiesel is gaining popularity as another homegrown, clean-burning fuel. One bushel of soybeans equals 1.5 gallons of biodiesel so fill up your tank. It only takes about nine months to grow more.
Soy sparks our creativity. Soy crayons were first introduced by Prang® in 1997 and have built a reputation for their bright, smooth finish when compared to their paraffin counterparts. The oil from just one bushel of soybeans makes 2,112 crayons. Can’t find them in the store? Make your own at home using this recipe.
Soy is also used as a green product in everything from foam insulation in your house to the athletic turf in the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. Learn more about how the Johnson family goes green by using sustainable practices to grow soybeans.