Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday, August 17—Day 17

What did we eat today?

Breakfast: Toast with honey and butter

Lunch: Goat cheese and crackers, carrots, cider. (Leftover pork chop for Scott)

Dinner: Sausage and onions, green beans, cherries and yellow doll watermelon.

(no photos today—most Fridays we are on the run, and this one was no exception)

Very excited for farmers' markets tomorrow (2 of them).

I had an email from a friend today—she had been reflecting on an article she read about cutting down rainforests to provide cropland for soy production. It got her to thinking about how much soy she had added to her own diet as a lean protein source, wondering where all that soy comes from.

Well, I suppose it can be hard to know. After corn, I would guess that soybeans are the #2 commodity crop grown in the US. To the extent that people see problems with conventional agriculture, be it in soil conservation, pesticide and fertilizer use, broken subsidy systems, or genetically modified stocks, soy has them all in spades. And taken as a category, soy beans have zero traceablility, which is basically the definition of a commodity crop. When you read your food labels and see "soy protein concentrate", "soy lecithin" and a million other things, this is what you are buying. That's not to say that you can't buy soy products that are not part of the conventional commodity market—I assume that you can, though I'll confess that I do not know for sure. Certainly certified organic soy products are part of a different economy, but as big as industrial organic growing has gotten, that only assures you that some of the issues above are addressed, but not necessarily all. If you care, you have to do the homework and find out.

But another thing popped into my head, and I shared this with my friend—soy is turning out not to be the wonderfood we once thought. There are a lot of compounds in soy that are suspected of mimicing hormonal effects, perhaps causing gynecological problems, among others. I also had to point out that soy is not exactly as lean as we might assume: a 4 oz serving of firm tofu has 6 grams of fat. Compare that to 4 ounces of skinless chicken breast at 1.5 grams.

We eat tofu occasionally, but we normally opt for other protein sources, some leaner and some richer than soy. Why? I'll admit that I like meat better than tofu, but tofu is fine—I'm perfectly happy to eat it. The big thing for us is that we know where the meat comes from. We get chicken from people named Kay and Matthew, beef from Jim and Rebecca, pork from Sue and Tony. If I want to know how fresh it is or how it was raised, I will just ask them, or better yet, go see for myself. But I know for sure that the meat our family eats is not implicated in any way with destruction of rainforests or any of the other issues I noted above.

That's what we care about, so that's what we choose. What do you care about? Do your choices support that?