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Important Dates for the Soybean in History

  1. SoybeansIn 2853 BC, the reigning Chinese Emperor Sheng-Nung first named a group of five sacred plants, also known as the �Wu Ku�, that were considered essential to the Chinese people. These were soybeans, rice, wheat, barley and millet.
  2. A Yankee clipper ship brought soybeans to the U.S, in 1804. The, sailors loaded the ship with soybeans in China as an inexpensive ballast. When they arrived in the U.S. they dumped the soybeans to make room for cargo.
  3. In 1829, U.S. farmers first grew soybeans. They raised a variety for making  soy sauce.
  4. During the Civil War, soldiers used soybeans instead of"coffee berries" to brew "coffee" when real coffee was scarce.
  5. In the late 1800s significant numbers of farmers began to grow soybeans as a forage for cattle (Cattle Feed).
  6. In 1904, at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama., George Washington Carver began studying the soybean. His discoveries changed the way people thought about the soybean; no longer was it just a forage crop. Now its beans provided valuable protein and oil.
  7. By 1929, U.S. soybean production had grown to 9 million bushels. That year, soybean pioneer William J. "Bill" Morse left on a two-year odyssey to China during which he gathered more than 10,000 soybean varieties for U.S. researchers to study.
  8. In 1935 Henry Ford, used many soybean derived parts including gearshift knobs, window trim, door handles, and accelerator pats in his vehicles. He also revealed a handmade plastic car derived from the "soybean". In 1931 Ford did groundbreaking research on Soybeans at his laboratory facilities in Dearborn, Michigan.
  9. By 1940, the U.S. soybean crop had grown to 78 million bushels harvested on 5 million acres, and the United States was a net exporter of soybeans and soybean products. That year, Henry Ford took an ax to a car trunk made with soybean plastic to demonstrate its durability. The publicity increased the soybean's popularity.

Facts & Trivia about Soybeans

  • One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons. Soy crayons have been created to replace toxic petroleum-wax crayons, soy crayons are sager to use, brighter in color, and less expensive to produce.
  • Soybean oil provides an environmentally friendly fuel for diesel engines.
  • Soybean oil is the most widely used vegetable oil. It is found in margarine's, salad dressings, canned foods, sauces, bakery goods, and processed fried foods.
  • Soy protein is the only plant protein that contains all 8 essential amino acids and is considered a complete protein.
  • During the Civil War, soybeans were used in place of coffee because real coffee was scarce.
  • 98 percent of the soybean and livestock farms in the country are still family farms.
  • A 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields about 11 pounds of oil and about 48 pounds of meal.
  • U.S. farmers first grew soybeans as cattle feed.
  • 45 percent of the world’s soybean acreage and 55 percent of production is in the United States.
  • Soy ink is used to print newspapers and textbooks.
  • Soybean is used in plastics, wood adhesives and textiles.
  • Soybeans also find their way into candles, cleaning products and hair-care products.
  • The soybean is the highest natural source of dietary fiber.
  • Soybeans grow in pods similar to peas.
  • Soy sauce is a salty, savory sauce made from fermented soybeans, wheat, yeast, and salt.
  • Soybeans contain a compound called genistein that is found only in soybeans. Researchers have discovered that genistein inhibits blood vessel development, inhibiting the growth of tumors.
  • Farmers across the U.S. grow soybeans that have been harvested into yields of about 2 billion bushels a year.
  • About half of U.S. soybeans are exported to major markets including Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and South Korea.
  • More soybeans are grown in the United States than anywhere else in the world.

A Few of the More Common Uses for soy include:

  • A food in their own right
  • Meat replacement; as in tofu and the base of many mock meat products.
  • Dairy replacement - soy milk and cheese
  • Biofuel stock for biodiesel
  • Stock feed
  • Candles
  • Soaps
  • Cooking oil
  • Flour
  • Butter (like peanut butter)
  • Ice cream
  • Chips
  • Cosmetics
  • Clothing
  • Resins
  • Plastics
  • Inks
  • Clothing
  • Vodka
  • Insulation



Iowa State University:

Soy 20/20:

McGill University:

North Carolina Soybean Producers Association:


Did you know 5,000 years ago, farmers in China grew soybeans.

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