Soyfoods and Farm Tour with ND Soybean Council

Photo by: North Dakota Soybean Council – Facebook

As someone who is of Asian origin, Soybean has always been a significant element of my rearing when it comes to our food. Soy sauce, Soy milk, Tofu, and Edamame are just among the products that our family will always must-have at home. But how much do I know about Soybean? Not much!

So when the North Dakota Soybean Council invited me to tour the Soyfoods and Farm Tour at the Fargo, ND region, I was intrigued and excited to learn more about the Soybean industry. An authentic farm to table adventure is what I hoped, and they did not disappoint!

Isoflavones, anyone?!

It was three days of learning with industry speakers, and one of the first speakers that I enjoyed learning from was Dr. Mark Messina, President of Nutrition Matters, Inc. and the Executive Director of the Soy Nutrition Institute. He talked about a lot of the misinformation and trends that affected Soy. One of the misinformation he found from a well-known magazine is how “Soy is bad for men.” He said that that bears no truth and nothing more than to get in on the bandwagon and arouse controversial groundless issues for more readership.

According to Messina, Soybeans provide high-quality protein and should be the protein of choice to use in our diets. Isoflavones, primarily found in Soybeans, are another big reason. He explained that early Soy (Isoflavone) intake decreases Breast Cancer risk. You can read more about Dr. Messina’s work and findings at TheSoyNutritionInstitute.com.

Here are the eight reasons why Soy is right for you:

  1. Lowers risk of heart disease
  2. Lowers blood pressure
  3. Improves cognitive function
  4. Protects against prostate cancer
  5. Provides complete, high-quality protein
  6. Aids with weight management
  7. Reduces the risk of breast cancer
  8. Improves bone health

Farmers and their land

While Illinois is the top Soybean producer in the US, Harrison Weber, ND Soybean Council Director of Market Development, mentioned that there are 5.5 million acres of North Dakota Soybean farms and estimated production of 200 million bushels of Soybean in N.D. alone. Some are for food, and some for feed. As we drove through the farm regions of North Dakota, it was hard for me to imagine how this vast open farmland is just a portion of what the U.S. has as a whole. 

Photo by: North Dakota Soybean Council – Facebook

We also met up with the Soybean farmers and their families. It was a damp and cold week, and N.D. just endured an unforeseen snowstorm that ravaged a substantial amount of the crops. The farm grounds were understandably off-limits, but I was a bit disappointed with that. Nonetheless, the farmers came to gather with us. While I suspected to hear more talks about the business side, it was heartwarming to hear about their daily struggles. One 3rd or 4th generation farmer spoke emotionally about his daughter taking helm over the farm. There are very bleak concerns about today’s tenuous world relations, and although the farmers didn’t delve on that topic too much, the worries and tension are palpable. All farmers are very optimistic that they will get through it as they’ve always had.

Innovation and Technology

I feel great knowing that a lot of time and money are invested in new technology to keep the farms on tip-top shape. When thinking of farmers, drones, and iPads were not the first things in mind. Still, the amount of education spent in advancing tools to keep these farms grow quality Soybeans shows the value placed on management practices that will help sustain their ability to grow healthy and quality soybeans for food consumption.

 The last leg of our tour was to visit one of North Dakota’s largest processing facility, Identity Ag with SB&B’s President. SB&B was built in 1906 and is the parent company of Identity Ag. At Identity Ag they process and distribute Soybeans all over the world at least 80% of it goes to Asia. That part boggles my mind, but it clearly shows how important the U.S. Soybean industry is to the world’s economy. The passion and care that Identity Ag shows when shipping these products are excellent to hear. I wish I had pictures of how squeaky clean the facilities are, but photos and videos were not allowed.

Overall, the North Dakota Soybean Council tour was an eye-opening experience. The tour was a true farm to table learning adventure that everyone should go through if you are serious about knowing what your food goes through.

Yummy Recipes

We’ve also learned how to cook with soybean products. There were recipes that I wouldn’t ever think possible, and they were delicious! Everything from Spicy Tofu and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce, Chocolate Pudding Pies, Sweet Garlic Wasabi Tofu Dressing, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and more! Here are two recipes I’d like to share with you!

Sweet Garlic Wasabi Tofu Dressing (Salad Dressing)

1 pkg of Silken Tofu

1/2 tsp Wasabi Powder

I Tbsp of granulated Onion Powder

1 Tbsp of granulated Garlic Powder

2 cloves Garlic

2 Tbsp Veganaise (Vegan Mayo with Soy)

1Tbsp Agave Nectar

1tsp Himalayan Salt

Place all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth. Yield: 10 servings.

 

Spicy Tofu and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce

1 (14 oz) water-packed Firm Tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1/4 cup Soybean Oil

4 oz. Assorted Mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup of Onion, minced

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

1 tsp. Chili Flakes

16 oz. Tomato Sauce

3 tbsp Black Olives, chopped

1/4 cup Fresh Basil, chopped

6 cups of cooked Spaghetti

Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick skillet. Then add Tofu and saute’ until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Saute’ Mushrooms, Onion, and Garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add chili flakes and let it cook for another minute.

Then add and combine the reserved Tofu and add Tomato Sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Add Olives and Basil right before serving. Serve over Spaghetti. Yield: 6 servings

Some of the Soybean products you can find at your local grocery stores

MJ Tam

Head Chicagonista, Co-host of the Chicagonista LIVE! show, Founder of Women Driving Excellence. MJ is also the annual host of SocialRevUp - Brands & Bloggers Summit (#bbsummit) attended by about 200 professional high-profile bloggers nationwide. Follow MJ on Twitter: @mjtam

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