Behind the Bean

The Cornucopia Institute has issued a study entitled “Behind the Bean:  The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry.”  The full report is available on their website, linked below.  They have also created a scorecard, grading the companies selling “organic” soy-based food, such as Veggie Burgers, tofu and soymilk, based on factors such as percentage of organic products used, whether the companies are acquiring their soy from China, and other sustainable and organic practices.

Among those getting “zero” ratings are Kraft’s Boca Burgers, Kellogg’s Gardenburger, Dean Foods’ Silk, and store brands by Albertson’s, Whole Foods, Target and Walmart.  Here is the scorecard:  http://www.cornucopia.org/soysurvey/

This link will take you to a page where you can access the full report:  http://www.cornucopia.org/2009/05/soy-report-and-scorecard/

I realize these kind of foods are popular among fans of natural and organic foods, but the best practice is to avoid processed foods altogether if possible.  As the report discusses, many of these products (such as soy milk) use soy flour rather than whole soybeans.  The process of creating the soy flour includes bathing the beans in a hexane bath.  As the CI folks report:  “Hexane is classified as a “hazardous air pollutant” by the Environmental Protection Agency and emissions are regulated for their contribution to air pollution. Food processors are the country’s major hexane emitters. When The Cornucopia Institute sent samples of hexane-extracted soy flour to an independent lab for residue testing, residues as high as 21 parts per million were found. The effects on consumer health of repeated and long-term consumption of hexane-extracted soy ingredients have not been thoroughly studied. An extraction process that does not involve hexane is available, but using hexane is cheaper for the processor.”  Yuck.  No thanks.

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