We fielded a question from a fifth grader at the start of our unit about whether eating soy is good or bad for the environment and wanted to address the confusion this week. First, we talked about how eating edible plants like soybeans is usually a healthy choice, period. But what we might not have known before is that most of the soy being farmed around the world is fed to animals that then become meat, eggs, and dairy. When we see images of the Amazon being burned to provide land for soy farming, it’s our consumption of meat and decisions about how livestock are fed that are responsible, not so much our direct consumption of soybeans and soy products. We also learned that more than 90% of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified, a technology that could potentially help us fight climate change (for example, through the creation of drought-resistant crops) or aggravate climate change (for example, by increasing monoculture and depleting the soil’s ability to capture carbon).
In the end, the practical advice to eat any one thing in moderation and to know where your food comes from holds true for soy, too. Back by popular demand, we made salad rolls with rice paper featuring local, organic braised tofu from Hodo Foods in Oakland (soy we can feel good about!). We watched this video from the Exploratorium about how Hodo makes tofu and yuba before heading down to the kitchen and wrapping truly stunning works of edible art, which we enjoyed with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce.