History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Europe (incl. Eastern Europe and the USSR (1597 - Mid 1980s) - Part 2

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi


A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s


Copyright 2007 Soyinfo Center, Lafayette, California

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Austria formerly occupied a much larger area than it does today. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna confirmed Austrian control of a large empire in southeast Europe occupied by Germans, Hungarians, Slavs, Italians, and others. In 1867 the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, encompassing the powerful Habsburg empire, was established. But in 1918, after the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, Austria was reduced to the small republic it is today.

1873-1899. From the early 1870s until 1900 Austria was one of Europe's leading centers of work relating to soybeans and soyfoods. The Universal Exposition, which took place in Vienna in 1873, had important repercussions on the introduction of soybeans to Europe. Here soybeans made their earliest known appearance in Austria, together with a pamphlet about soybeans and soyfoods written in French by a Chinese for the Exposition. At that time Prof. Friedrich Haberlandt (1826-1878), then Chancellor of the Royal School of Agriculture ( Hochschule fur Bodenkultur ) in Vienna obtained the seeds of 19 soybean varieties from the Exposition and in 1875 began what became an extensive and highly influential series of experiments with these seeds, four of which matured in Vienna in 1875. In 1876 Haberlandt's soybeans were tested by cooperators in Hungary, Bohemia, Steirmark, Bukowina, Morawia, and Silesia; favorable results were obtained in each case. In 1877 the seeds of all four varieties were distributed to 148 cooperators, mostly in Austria-Hungary, but some in Germany and Russian Poland, and one each in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Most of the tests gave promising results. Haberlandt's first publication of his work appeared in 1876, then in 1878 he published his magnum opus Die Sojabohne , a 118-page book describing his research with soybeans and soyfoods in central Europe. Many agronomists and thousands of farmers participated in the soybean cultivation trials Haberlandt initiated, and numerous Austrian food researchers (Hecke, Leithner, Erttel, Baumgartner, Mach, Leunis Refs??) helped him in using whole soybeans to develop recipes suited to central European tastes. In 1877 Leunis (Ref??) discussed the uses of soy sauce in Asia and Europe. In 1878 Haberlandt made the world's earliest known reference to soy grits (for use in Sojenta, resembling Polenta), soy coffee, soy meal and flour (for use in breads), and soy chocolate. He reported that he had been sent a sample of a soybean plant from Tirol (in Austria), where it had long been grown and where it was known as the Kaffebohne (coffee bean). Nothing is known of when or how the soybean arrived in Tirol (probably before 1873) or when and how it came to be roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. In 1878 Haberlandt recommended that soybeans be used in place of peas in the Austrian army's Pea Sausage. Although his work and writing were cut short by his untimely death, they awakened Europe to the potential of the soybean and soyfoods and served to stimulate much subsequent research (see Chapter 49).

During the late 1870s and early 1880s Count Henri Attems did many experiments growing soybeans in Austria and Paillieux (1880) reported that Attems liked soybeans served in salads and was the first person in the world to observe that adding baking soda to soybean cooking water greatly reduced the cooking time. Edmond Blaskovics, apparently an Eastern European agronomist, continued the work Haberlandt had begun and in 1880 in Vienna published a book entitled The Soybean: Its Culture, Use, and Worth as Fodder . Also in 1880 Stingl and Gruber (Ref??) were issued a patent for use of soybeans and their enzymes in the manufacture of yeast. In 1886 Stingl and Morawski gave the most detailed information to date on the physical and chemical/nutritional properties of soy oil and of an amylolytic enzyme on soybeans, then in 1887 Morawski and Stingl reported on the sugars in soybeans and the iodine number of soy oil. In 1882 Hanausek in Vienna wrote a general article about soybeans, then in 1884 reported finding a small amount of starch in soybeans. In 1895 he enquired about miso. Prior to 1888 Capan in Vienna investigated the chemical composition of the soybean (Egasse 1888).

1900-1939 . Interest in soyfoods resurfaced during World War I, when Austria tried to compensate for the poor protein in the diet of the army and the general population by using soyfoods (Horvath 1927). In 1918 Fruwirth wrote about growing and using soybeans in the Austrian Gardening Newspaper .

Austria's second great soyfoods pioneer was Laszlo Berczeller (1885-1955), a Hungarian-born physiologist-scientist, who pioneered the use of whole (full-fat) soy flour, called Edelsoja, throughout Europe and the world. First introduced to soyfoods in Berlin in 1912, he began work in Vienna during World War I, and probably inherited much of the legacy of interest in soyfoods that Haberlandt had bequeathed to that city some 35 to 40 years earlier. Berczeller's first publication on soyfoods dates from 1921 (two British patents on soymilk for Berczeller and Graham), then from 1923 until the end of World War II, Berczeller devoted himself primarily to work with soyfoods, especially whole soy flour. He traveled throughout Europe, visiting the heads of state and top scientists in many countries and his influence was so great that he must be considered one of the principal founders of the soyfoods industry in Europe. In Vienna, many other researchers and professors joined Berczeller in his work to teach others of the many virtues of soy flour: those who published on the subject included Schwicker (1924), Weiser (1924 Ref??), Wastl (1926, 1927), Durig (1926), Kupelweiser (1927), and Szanto (1928). Thus Vienna in the 1920s was the center of a great deal of activity related to soyfoods. By 1929 Berczeller's soy flour was being produced in Vienna. Details on the work of Berczeller and his colleagues is given in Chapter 51.

From 1934 to 1944 five Danubian countries grew rather large amounts of soybeans. Austria was one of these, but nothing is known of the actual amounts produced by Austria alone, nor of how these soybeans were used.

1940-1982 . Soy flour and other soyfoods were probably used quite extensively in Austria during World War II, and at least one soyfoods cookbook titled ?? was published (Benisch 1981). In 1945, shortly after the war's end, soybean growing suddenly came to a halt in Austria, reportedly at the instigation of American occupation forces; adapted varieties were forever lost and the plant was largely forgotten as large-scale imports from America began for use as oil and meal (Benisch 1981).

In 1974 the American Soybean Association opened an office for Eastern Europe in Vienna. Their objective was to sell American-grown soybeans in the region.

In 1975 Anton Wolf, a plant researcher in Vienna, began a personal campaign to reintroduce soybeans to Austria. In 1978 his work began to show success as yields began to equal those attained in the USA. According to Benisch (1981), representatives of the "American soybean lobby" promptly flew to Vienna, threatened to hinder Austrian exports of cheese to America, and got the Minister of Trade to drop the idea of building an Austrian oil mill to a great demand for domestic soybeans. (Austria imports 97% of her oils and proteins.) Wolf redoubled his efforts by forming in 1979 an association of soybean growers ( Sojaring ), and expanding acreage. By 1981 experimental yields had reached the highly impressive figure of 3,500 kg/ha (52 bu/acre). Soyfoods producers in southern Germany (such as Wolfgang Furth-Kuby of Sojaquelle) and in Austria (Lawrence Dryer of Weg der Natur ??) started in 1980 to work with Wolf to develop a local source of organically grown soybeans. The Weg der Natur Foundation, a group interested in macrobiotics and natural food, began producing tofu and miso in Austria in 1980; members studied for several months in Japan. The Foundation also sponsored a fair in Salzburg featuring soyfoods in November 1982?? As of 1982 nothing is known of the amount of soybeans produced in Austria, but the figure is considered too small for inclusion on the American Soybean Association Soya Bluebook .


Belgium apparently first became involved with soybeans in 1908, when the country imported 11,750 tonnes from East Asia for use as oil and meal. Belgium was Europe's third largest soybean importer that year, after Great Britain and France. Imports in subsequent years are unknown. That same year Belgium sent soybeans to its African colony the Belgian Congo, and began a long history of efforts to introduce them there, as described at Zaire in Chapter 19.

In 1910 numerous soyfoods and perhaps industrial products were presented at an Exhibition in Brussels, probably by the French-Chinese soyfoods pioneer Li Yu-ying (Li and Grandvoinnet 1912).

Interesting articles about soybeans, soyfoods, and their relationship to the Belgian colonies were written by Pynaert (1920) and L'Heureux (1933). By the late 1930s Belgium was importing?? an average of 18,000 tonnes of soybeans a year.

Soybean imports stopped from 1940 to 1944, but by 1950 were averaging 32,000 tonnes a year, rising to 66,000 tonnes in 1959. Also in 1959 Pierre Gevaert and friends at Sint-Martens-Latem founded Lima N.V. (Ltd.) and began to manufacture, import, and distribute macrobiotic foods. That year they began to make naturally fermented miso and shoyu, Belgium's earliest known East Asian soyfoods. Production continued until 1966, then was shut down but restarted in 1981.

Soybean imports continued to grow rapidly, rising from 135,000 tonnes in 1960 to 920,000 tones in 1980, making Belgium-Luzembourg Europe's sixth largest soybean importer. In 1970, in response to this growing demand for soybeans, the American Soybean Association opened an office in Brussels to facilitate sales in that part of Europe. In 1980 Belgium and Luxembourg consumed 91,000 tonnes of soy oil, or 8.92 kg per person per year, which was third in Europe, behind Netherlands and Denmark. The two countries had the highest total fat consumption (all fats) in Europe.

As of 1982, traditional, low-technology soyfoods were made by a number of Belgian companies, most of which were interested in macrobiotics. Tofu was made by de Brandnetel, Jonathan, Seven Arrows, and four other companies. Lima made miso and shoyu and N.V. Vandemoortele made soymilk; de Brandnetel was also a major macrobiotic distributor.

In 1982 Dr. F. de Selliers de Moranville, a financier and head of the International Investment and Development Corporation (IIDC) founded COMSOY, an international committee of soymilk experts and was putting together a multi-million dollar plan to introduce soymilk to the lowest income countries.

In Belgium 56% of the population speaks Flemish-Dutch. It is possible that some of the early Dutch reports on soyfoods, all of which we have listed at "Netherlands," were actually written by citizens of Belgium.


Denmark first became interested in soybeans in the decade 1910-19. The earliest known records (USTC 1920) show that in 1911 Denmark imported and crushed 20,000 tonnes of East Asian soybeans to yield oil and meal. Imports rose rapidly to a peak of 104,000 tonnes in 1915; in 1916, while importing 99,000 tonnes of soybeans, Denmark passed England to become Europe's leading soybean importing nation, though imports fell to almost zero during World War I. Some of this early oil was used to make margarine. Denmark's first margarine plant was started in 1870-71 and from about that time until the mid-1940s, Denmark had the highest per capita consumption of margarine of any European country, followed by Norway and Sweden.

Soybean imports recovered quickly after the World War I, reaching 128,000 tonnes in 1923. From that year until 1938 (except for 1925), Denmark was Europe's second largest soybean importer, after Germany, a much larger country. Denmark was also a major exporter of soy oil during this period, roughly tied with Germany. Using soybeans, Denmark rebuilt its economy from one based on wheat and other cereal grains (until these were undercut by US imports in the early 1900s) to one based on raising livestock, using soybean meal as a protein source. By 1930 some 70% of the country's export trade consisted of dairy products, eggs, and meat. For their country's regained economic viability, the Danes gave thanks to the soybean ( Fortune 1930, see also Chapter 4).

The earliest known reference to production of traditional, low-technology soyfoods in Denmark was in 1929, when Ferree stated that a soymilk plant had started in Denmark that year.

After World War II soybean imports recovered rapidly and by 1959 had returned to prewar levels. In that year Denmark, with imports of 290,000 tonnes, was again Europe's second largest soybean importer, after Germany. Thereafter, however, soybean imports stagnated, reaching a peak of 515,000 tonnes in 1970, then to 295,000 tonnes in 1980, at which time Denmark was number eight in Western Europe in soybean imports. Because these soybeans were imported primarily as a source of meal for livestock feed, Denmark, was a large exporter of the soy oil that was separated from the meal. From 1957-1968 Denmark was by far Europe's largest soy oil exporter, but after a peak of 56,000 tonnes in 1970, oil exports fell steadily to a mere 14,000 tonnes in 1980. Denmark was also a major importer of soybean meal throughout the postwar period. Imports rose from 160,000 tonnes in 1960 to 840,000 tonnes in 1980, at which time Denmark was the fourth largest soybean meal importer in Europe.

After World War II increasing amounts of soy oil were used in Denmark, both in margarine and in cooking oils. In 1958 Denmark had 43 margarine plants, second only to West Germany's 50, and by the 1970s Denmark had Europe's third highest per capita consumption of margarine.

Nutana, a large Seventh-day Adventist food plant founded in 1898, first began to make soyfoods in 1967, when they introduced two meat analogs, Beeflike and Chickenlike slices. They had started importing spun soy protein fibers from the US in the early 1960s, but later switched to using those made by DE-VAU-GE in West Germany. In 1981 made a line of approximately 16 soyfoods, as described in Chapter 58.11. Between 1973 and 1979 Nutana, which was doing the most advanced work with soy of any Adventist company outside the US, showed a remarkable tenfold increase in sales, reaching $10 million in 1979.

Some research on tempeh was done in Denmark during the 1970s. In 1976 Jensen and Djurtoft published a large report on tempeh and in 1977 Djurtoft and Jensen wrote about tempeh made from various grains and beans.

The soyfoods/soycrafters movement and the macrobiotic movement helped to introduce soyfoods starting in the early 1980s. Per Fruergaard started Tofu Denmark, the country's first tofu shop, and Urtekram was a macrobiotic distributor of soyfoods. Dansk Soyakagefabrik made soymilk.

In 1980 Denmark, with a population of only 5.1 million, had the second highest rate of soy oil consumption in Europe, 12.1 kg per year, exceeded only by the Netherlands (17.3). Denmark consumed 62,000 tonnes of soy oil, and had either the first or second highest per capita consumption of margarine (17.4 kg) and the highest total per capita fat consumption (34.9 kg, second only to Belgium-Luxembourg).


France was the first nation in the Western world to take a serious interest in soybeans and soyfoods. It led the way prior to World War I in pioneering their introduction to Europe.

1690-1799 . The earliest?? known reference to soybeans or soyfoods in France dates from about 1670 when, according to Yokotsuka (1964) and Tamura and Hirano (1971), records in the Hague show that Dutch traders exported shoyu (soy sauce) from Japan to the French court of Louis XIV, where this expensive seasoning was served at the King's sumptuous palace banquets.

Soybeans were probably first received in France in 1739, when French missionaries in China are thought to have sent them to Compte du Buffon at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris; frequent additional shipments arrived from 1834 on. Soybeans were very probably grown at this botanical garden starting in 1740, and unquestionably from 1779 on, then later from 1834 to 1880 without interruption (Paillieux 1880; see also Chapter 3).

Unlike Italy, the Netherlands, and England, which did extensive global maritime exploration during the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s, France did relatively little and thus published no early reports of soybeans or soyfoods in Asia prior to 1855.

1800-1899 . France was the source of the first soybean seeds grown in the United States. These were introduced by Benjamin Franklin, who was then Ambassador to France and a close friend ?? of Buffon at the Jardin des Plantes. Willich reported growing soybeans sent by Franklin in America in 1804 (Hymowitz, in press).

In 1821 M.C. Brun de Beaumes, working at Champ-Rond near Etampes, did the earliest known soybean culture tests in France. During that unusually warm season a Chinese variety gave abundant yield on a large scale (Paillieux 1880; Itie 1910-11; Piper and Morse 1923).

France was of the first European nations to establish extensive ties, both diplomatic and missionary, with China. These served as a main source of inspiration for soyfoods efforts starting in the 1850s. The group that coordinated and encouraged the growing French interest in soybeans and soyfoods was a remarkable organization called the Society for Acclimatization, which was founded in Paris in 1854, and did more than any other early body to bring soybeans and soyfoods to Europe. Their publication, the Bulletin de la Societe d'Acclimatation , published a wealth of early and stimulating articles on all aspects of soybeans and soyfoods, as discussed in detail in Chapter 48.

The Society's work with soybeans began in 1854, when Monsignor de Montigny, the French consul in China, sent the Society five varieties of soybeans from north China. He described the importance of soybean in China and thought that it would grow well in France, providing a nice balance for French food grains (Montgaudry). Starting in 1855 Baron de Montgaudry, under the auspices of the Society d'Acclimatation, distributed numerous packets of soybean seeds to its members. This was the earliest known attempt to propagate soybeans in Europe. In 1858 M. Lachaume at Vitry-sur-Seine transmitted to the Society details of the success he had in growing soybeans there from 1856. In 1858 a report from Lachaume??/the Garden of Acclimatization stated that "the acclimatization of the soybean is complete." Then in 1868 M. Chauvin of the Society of Horticulture at Cote d'Or cultivated several varieties there and continued their culture (Paillieux 1880). The brief War of 1870 between France and Bismark's Germany, ending in France's defeat, led to a decline of interest in soybean culture, for reasons that are not clear. However in 1874 the Society of Horticulture at Etampes (Seine et Oise) and M. Blavet began many varietal experiments there that continued until 1881. The work at Etampes eventually led to the development of an early yellow soybean, which came to be widely cultivated in France after 1880. At the Universal Exposition held in Paris in 1878, many Japanese, Chinese, and Indian soybean varieties were exhibited. In 1879 a Chinese variety matured well at Marseilles. In 1880 the Society for Acclimatization distributed soybeans widely in France. Tests done in 24 provinces were largely successful, especially in central and southern France. Yet soon thereafter tests were abandoned until about 1888, when soybeans started to be widely grown in the southern USA (Rouest 1921). Despite these extensive efforts, the Society did not succeed in establishing a permanent culture of the soybean.

The Society's work with soyfoods began in 1855, when Montgaudry published a lengthy report in the Bulletin discussing soybeans, soy oil, soybean presscake, tofu, and fermented tofu. These were the earliest known references to soy oil and fermented tofu in the West. Later in 1855 Stanislas Julien in China wrote the Society about soybeans, soy nuggets (the earliest reference in the West), tofu, soy oil, and Chinese miso ( jiang ). Also in 1855 Fremy, a chemistry professor, did the first known nutritional analysis of soybeans and gave his appraisal of the oil extracted from them. In 1858 Lachaume made Europe's earliest known reference to fresh green soybeans and recommended their use in what was the West's first soyfoods' recipe, and the first attempt to encourage the use of soybeans as food in Europe. In 1859 M. Vilmorin became the first Westerner to make tofu in Europe.

In 1862, in the Bulletin , Eugene Simon, who had lived for many years in East Asia, gave a detailed description of shoyu production in and encouraged shoyu production in France. In 1866 Paul Champion, then in China, wrote the most detailed article to date on the production of tofu and made the earliest known reference in Europe to yuba and to soymilk for use as a beverage. In 1869 Champion and Lhote^ published the first nutritional analysis of tofu. (Champion published an even more elaborate account of these subjects in an 1869 article on tofu manufacture.) And in 1876 the Secretary of the Society for Horticulture near Etampes (Who?? Ref??) cooked whole dry soybeans (for the first time in Europe), prepared a seasoned recipe, and praised their flavor and digestibility. In 1880 the Society for Horticulture at Marseilles reported that it was making red and white wine-fermented tofu; the members conducted tastes tests using these two foods on more than 100 people and the great majority reported that they liked them. It was concluded that these "cheeses" (called "fromage blanc" and "fromage rouge") would be "acceptable to French tastes when they are widely available" (Paillieux 1880). By 1880 the Society had prepared many soyfoods (including soy coffee, tofu, and fermented tofu) and presented them for sampling to the National Horticultural Society. They also worked to introduce lightly salted tofu to the people near Paris.

The culmination of the Society's 25 years of work with and publications on soybeans and soyfoods came in 1880, when Paillieux, also inspired by the work of Haberlandt at that time with soybeans in Austria and central Europe, wrote his monumental 117-page work Le Soya , containing all of the above letters and reports, more than 30 in all. It is clear that the members and associates of the Society for Acclimatization were Europe's original soyfoods pioneers. But they were far ahead of their time, for despite their imaginative work, the soybean and soyfoods did not soon take the place in France that the Society hoped they would.

An important soy pioneer in France was the Paris-based seed firm, Vilmorin-Andrieux & Company. In 1858 Mr. Vilmorin had been the first in Europe to make tofu and in 1859 he had described cultural trials of soybeans sent from China by Mr. Perny. In 1880 the growing and propagation of soybeans in Europe took a major step forward when the now world-famous seed company offered the soybean for commercial sale in their seed catalog. Now, for the first time, anyone in Europe could order soybean seeds and grow them in a home garden or on a commercial farm. The first soybean offered was one of those developed by Haberlandt in Austria-Hungary. Called "Yellow Etampes" or "Etampes" (or "Ito San" in America), it proved itself well adapted to French conditions and soon became widely grown. In 1883 the company wrote and published a book entitled Les Plantes Potageres , which contained two pages of information on soybeans and their uses, plus two nice line drawings of the plant. An English edition of the book was published in London in 1885. By the 1920s the Company had expanded its selection of soybeans and was continuing to work to introduce soybeans and soyfoods to France.

The first Westerner to inquire into the origins of the soybean (and many other plants) was the great French botanist Alphonse de Candolle. In his classic book Origin of Cultivated Plants (1882, 1885), he drew on many types of evidence to conclude (correctly) that the soybean had originated in East Asia.

The soybean first came to be widely used in Europe in diabetic diets. And, again, all of the early work in this field (in fact all research prior to 1906) was done in France. In 1880 Pellet was the first to note that the soybean contained little or no starch. Then in 1886 Paillieux, after likewise analyzing soybeans and finding that they contained no starch, first advocated their use in diabetic diets. The many exciting new developments in this area of therapeutic use of the soybean were first published in the Bulletin of the Society for Acclimatization . Pioneering work done by Lecerf (J.G. 1888; Lecerf 1889; he made and analyzed soy bread and biscuits), Dr. George Dujardin-Beaumetz ( Bull. Soc. Acclim . 1890, a physician in Paris), Egasse (1888), and others are discussed in Chapter 21, Nutrition. Some of the soybeans used to make these diabetic foods were grown in France, but the majority were probably imported from Manchuria and China.

Other important publications contributed to the wave of interest in soybeans and soyfoods that swept France in the 1880s. In 1881 Levallois published early reports on the nutritional value and chemical composition of soybeans. In 1884 Paillieux and Bois wrote another important work, Le Potager d'un Curieux , which contained more information about soybeans and soyfoods. In 1888 Blondell, the first soybean physiologist, did detailed studies and illustrations of the anatomy and physiology of the soybean seed; he confirmed that it contained no starch. In addition (according to Matagrin, 1944), from 1888 to 1913 hygienists who favored vegetarian diets did extensive publicity for soyfoods.

During the 1890s there were fewer publications, and they centered on the use of soy in diabetic diets, with research being done by Menudier (1890) and Villon (1894). By 1894 a soy-based bread called "Asian Bread" was being made at Baune, France. In 1898 Trabut, a Frenchman in Algeria, published his work on growing soybeans there as a forage plant from 1896??

Throughout the 1800s many of Europe's leading oil chemists and technologists were French. M.E. Chevreul (1786-1889) made a host of discoveries in the field of oil composition that opened the modern era of oil chemistry. Fourcroy (1793), Vauquelin (1812), and Fremy (1841) did key work leading to the discovery and naming of lecithin in 1848?? In 1868 the Frenchman Hippolyte Mege-Mouries invented margarine and starting in 1897 two French food chemists, Sabatier and Senderens, made key discoveries leading to the invention of hydrogenation (Stuyvenberg 1969). It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the inventions of margarine and hydrogenation on the future and eventual worldwide success of soy oil.

1900-1919 . The interest in soybeans and soyfoods that had risen steadily from 1855 to 1880 was revitalized in the early 1900s, with the strongest interest in traditional East Asian soyfoods and in soyfoods nutrition. In 1903 Lechartier, director of the agricultural station at Rennes, Bretagne, made perhaps the most extensive investigations on the chemical/nutritional composition of all parts of the soybean plant and on its yields. Testing four varieties of soybeans (yellow, black, Etampes, Podolia) in Bretagne and in the Haute-Vienne from 1897 to 1901, and using chemical fertilizers, he obtained seed yields of up to 1,800 kg/ha (26.6 bu/a) and forage yields of 20,000 to 30,000 kg/ha. Similar work was reported by Grandeau (1903). Pozzi-Escot (1903) discussed soy sauce in East Asia. Bardet (1905) discussed soy bread for diabetic diets, noting that soybeans were being imported to France for this use but that the small quantities imported to their high price. P. Carles (1907) discussed soymilk. In 1909 Chevalier wrote about soy breads and diabetic diets in a French medical journal.

France, with its colony of Indochina, was the first European nation to have colonial ties with the mainland of East Asia, and this led to a number of early publications on soybeans and soyfoods, starting in the 1860s. In 1869 J.I. Pierre noted that the soybean was grown in Cochin China near today's Saigon. In 1905 BUI Quang Chieu in Indochina (today's Vietnam), wrote a long article in French with numerous photos describing in detail the soyfoods used in that area. Then between 1906 and 1908 Mr. A. Bloch, a pharmacist/chemist for the French colonies, wrote three articles on soyfoods including a detailed discussion of the manufacture and composition of tofu (he recommended its introduction to the French troops in Indochina), a comprehensive review of soyfoods nutritional research (published in two journals) and the recommendation that soybeans be introduced in French colonies in Madagascar and elsewhere in Africa, and some original research on sterols in soybeans. He also made early references to yuba, shoyu, and okara. In 1910 G. Itie, a French colonial agronomist and professor, wrote a series of six very thorough and influential articles on the soybean, and its culture and utilization in tropical countries and in Indochina. In 1910 Brenier discussed soy oil in China and Vietnam. The Colonial Garden ( Le Jardin Colonial ) grew soybeans from various French colonies and from 1912 published analyses of these, as in L'Agriculture Pratique des Pays Chauds (Ref??). All this work had a major influence on later French writers in an era when France was looking for ways to increase the economic value of its colonies.

The first large-scale imports of soybeans to Europe began in 1907; all were imported from Manchuria and China at a time when cottonseed and linseed were scarce and expensive. England had pioneered these imports and in 1908 was the leading importer that year with 69,200 tonnes. However France was the second largest soybean importer in 1908 with 21,390 tonnes, followed by Belgium (11,750 tonnes), Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. Presumably the soybeans were crushed for use as oil and meal (for livestock feed). It is thought that French soybean imports declined rapidly after 1908, for no other statistics are available until 1923. The reasons for this lack of sustained interest, at a time when imports to most other countries grew rapidly, are not known.

One of France's (and Europe's) earliest and most influential soyfoods pioneers was a remarkable French-educated Chinese chemist and scholar named Li Yu-ying. Born in 1882 (probably in Peking), he apparently later changed his name to Li Shih-tseng. His earliest known work with soyfoods in Europe was in 1905, when he presented a paper on soymilk at the Second International Dairy Congress in Paris. By 1908 he had set up a laboratory in Paris for soymilk research and founded the French Society for the Exploitation of Soybeans and Soyfoods. By 1911 he had been granted five soyfoods patents in Britain and the US (I have only 3??). In 1910 he wrote a 65-page book in Chinese titled Dadou: Le Soja , which was published in Paris. Then in 1911 and 1912 he and L. Grandvoinnet, a French agricultural?? engineer, wrote a series of outstanding articles in French on soybeans and soyfoods. In 1912 these were made into a major (141-page) book entitled Le Soja: Sa Culture, Ses Usages Alimentaires, Therapeutiques, Agricoles, et Industriels . Written at a time when soybean imports to Europe were burgeoning but food uses were largely restricted to diabetic diets, this book opened up vast new vistas to European readers. It contained the earliest known comprehensive history of soybeans and soyfoods in East Asia and Europe, 46 pages on growing soybeans in Europe, and a wealth of original information on East Asian soyfoods and their many possibilities in the West. For Li was a remarkable innovator as well as a fine researcher. His list of "firsts" is impressive. In about 1910 he started Europe's first known soyfoods plant called Caseo-Sojaine in the suburbs of Paris, equipped it with state-of-the-art food processing equipment (some of which he invented and designed himself), then used it to make a full line of soyfoods including Europe's first soymilk and the world's first fermented acidophilus soymilk, Europe's first tofu and the world's first fermented French-style tofu cheeses in Roquefort and Camembert flavors, Europe's first soy sprouts (his most popular product, which were widely sold in the markets of Paris and the suburbs), Europe's first roasted soy flour, soy coffee, and soy chocolate (roasted soy flour with cocoa butter and sugar), and its first fermented soy sauce. In his writings he made the earliest known Western reference to soy sprouts, and also discussed soy lecithin, natto, Chinese jiang, and Vietnamese tuong (the latter two are miso-like products). He was one of the first to try to convince the French to use the soybean as an oilseed (unsuccessfully). He gave one of the best early reviews on soyfoods nutritional research, was the first to mention that soyfoods alkalize the blood (a key concept in traditional Asian thought). He held the world's first soyfoods press conference (in about 1912), inviting several hundred representatives of France's largest magazines and newspapers and serving an 11-course soyfoods meal. And he presented and served soyfoods at international expositions at Brussels, Turin, and Dresden. His soyfoods plant in Paris was apparently closed in about 1916. Sometime thereafter he returned to China and began introducing Western-style soyfoods there. The effect of all this activity on Europeans in the following decades would be difficult to overestimate; his work and writings were cited extensively. A detailed discussion of Li Yu-ying's life and work is given in Chapter 50.

Many other activities related to soyfoods were going on at this time. In 1910 La Nature ran one of Europe's first articles about natto. Labbe^ (1911), like Li, tried to interest the French in using the soybean as an oilseed. LeComte (1911) and Bergey (1912) were granted the earliest patents on roasted soy flour, soy coffee, and soy chocolate (the ideas appear to have come from Li). Bergey (1912) was granted a patent on a roasted soy flour made from sprouts. Neuville (1913) discussed the advantages of soymilk over animal milks in diabetic diets. And Mollieux (1914) published the first study on the composition and food value of soy sprouts. In 1909 Ref??, 1910, 1911, and 1919 the French physician Le Goff wrote four long articles on the use of soybeans and soyfoods in diabetic diets, developed relevant recipes, and became a real crusader, encouraging the French to grow soybeans in home gardens (as he did) and to serve them as fresh green soybeans. He noted that the most widely grown varieties in France in 1911 were the Soja d'Etampes and the Soja de Podolia (from Russia); both these plus a black soybean were sold in the seed company of Vilmorin-Andrieux & Co. However Le Goff apparently did not feel that most soyfoods were for everyone. In 1911 he wrote: "Except for shoyu, all soyfoods have a peculiar flavor, one that I believe will meet with many difficulties in making them acceptable to the European palate." In 1911 and 1912 F.J.G. Beltzer wrote a number of articles and a book on isolated soy protein (he called it "la caseine vegetale"), which he made from soymilk, having been strongly influenced?? by Li Yu-ying (who himself wrote about isolated soy protein the same year); it is not clear who first had the idea, but it was the forerunner of a major soy industry that developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1914 the soybean began to be seen as a military food. Starting in August 1914 most of the dry legumes in France were requisitioned for the French Army. This caused many exotic legumes (including soybeans) to suddenly appear in French marketplaces, and a number of soyfoods were developed for the French military. Balland (1917) in an article on "The Soybean in French Foods" gave descriptions and analyses of 13 soyfoods then used in France, including canned plain soybeans, three soybean soups, a rice-and-soybean soup, whole soybeans, and various breads, biscuits, and shortbreads fortified with soy flour. He stated that these foods were sold at some food stores on military bases and that soybean in the form of thick soups or mixed with wheat and made into bread and crackers were being used by the French Army. He concluded: "This is an industrial effort that we must all support, in the same way as the culture of soybeans in France as recommended by Li Yu-ying. It was later reported (Horvath 1927) that "the French Army replaced a large proportion of the meat powder in the army ration pottage by soybean products, and has used it in several forms as a part of the regular ration."

In 1918, though soybeans were grown more as a garden vegetable than as a field crop, there was a new interest in soybean cultivation in France. Thanks to Brioux and Semichon, a center for soybean cultivation experimentation was established near Carcassone (Aude) in the southeast corner of France. The director of this Experimental Farm of Neoculture was Leon Rouest, who until 1931 was very active in developing and popularizing new soybean varieties. In 1918 he received soybean samples from America and created hybrids adapted to France. He was also very interested in soyfoods, and he published several major works during the 1920s and 1930s, as described below. The French continued their efforts at growing soybeans in their colony, Algeria (Trabut 1918 Ref??). The American, Wm. Morse, wrote in 1919 (Ref??) that France was one of four countries in Europe with the greatest interest in growing soybeans; the others were Germany, Russia, and Italy.


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