were a crucial crop in eastern Asia long before written records. They
remain a major crop in China, Japan, and Korea. Prior to fermented products
such as soy sauce, tempeh, natto, and miso, soy was considered sacred
for its use in crop rotation as a method of fixing nitrogen. The plants
would be plowed under to clear the field for food crops Soya was first
introduced to Europe in the early 18th century and to British colonies
in North America in 1765, where it was first grown for hay. Benjamin
Franklin wrote a letter in 1770 mentioning sending soyabeans home from
England. Soyabeans did not become an important crop outside of Asia
until about 1910. In America, soya was considered an industrial product
only, and was not used as a food prior to the 1920s. Soya was introduced
to Africa from China in the late 19th century, and is now widespread
across the continent.
nonfermented food uses of soya beans include soya milk, and from the
latter tofu and tofu skin. Fermented foods include soya sauce,fermented
bean paste, natto, and tempeh, among others. The oil is used in many
industrial applications. The main producers of soya are theUnited States
(35%), Brazil (27%), Argentina (19%), China (6%) and India (4%). The
beans contain significant amounts of phytic acid, alpha-linolenic acid,
and the isoflavones genistein and daidzein.
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