History of Soy in Latin America - Page 1

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and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

©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, Californi

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Historical Overview . As noted in Chapter 3, the soybean and soyfoods may well have been introduced to Latin America sometime between 1565 and 1815 via the Chinatown that existed at Acapulco during that time. The earliest known reference to soybeans in Latin America was in 1882, when Gustavo D'Utra wrote a 4-page article on "Soja" in Brazil. The soybean had been introduced to Brazil that year and by 1892 was being propagated as a forage crop. Japanese, who began to immigrate to Brazil in 1908, aided in propagating soybeans and soyfoods. In 1890 Javanese farmers began to emigrate to Suriname; they almost surely took soybeans and soyfoods with them.

Starting in 1910 a number of important publications on soybeans and soyfoods appeared in Latin America. That year in Mexico a 4-page Spanish translation was published of the article "Soy Beans as Human Food," written in 1897 by Langworthy of the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1911 the Ministerio de Fomento (Ministry of Promotion) in Mexico issued a 37-page booklet entitled "La Soya," containing translations of various foreign publications on the use of the soybean. In 1912 Tonnelier in Argentina published the first book by a Latin American on the soybean and its utilization.

During the 1920s work with soybean cultivation accelerated. Starting in 1920 considerable work was done in Cuba and several publications resulted. In 1921 the soybean was introduced to Paraguay by Pedro Ciancio (Ciancio 1951). In 1923 Piper and Morse in the USA noted that Argentina was the leader in Latin America with work on soybeans, followed by Paraguay; no mention was made of Brazil. In 1925 the first culture trials were done in Brazil and in 1929 Colombia introduced the soybean as an experimental crop. In 1924 Latin America's first research on soyfoods was done in Brazil, focusing on soymilk.

During the 1930s soybeans were used in nutrition programs in Mexico. In 1930 William Morse's article "Soybean Utilization" was translated into Spanish and published in La Hacienda (July-Sept. 1930) and as Cuban Agricultural Experiment Station Circular 69 (1930). From 1932 to 1935 experimental plantings of soybeans started in Veracruz, Mexico. In 1934 Torres Herrera in Nicaragua wrote a series of articles about soybeans and soyfoods.

The food shortages resulting during World War II provided a major stimulus for interest in soybeans and soyfoods throughout Latin America. In Ecuador the Secretary of Agriculture published a series of large, colorful posters promoting soyfoods as a "Food for the People" to be used in place of milk, eggs, and meat (Ecuador Ministerio de Economia 1943). In Brazil in 1941 Silva wrote a 133-page book about the soybean and its food uses. In 1940 Dr. Manuel Gamio and his institute began extensive work in Mexico teaching Indians there how to grow soybeans and use them as food. In 1946 Stahel in Suriname wrote excellent articles about tofu, tempeh, soy sprouts, and soy sauce (kechap) as used by Japanese and Chinese in that country. Also in about 1946 Brazil became the first country in Latin America to start serious commercial soybean production. That year production passed 10,000 tonnes (metric tons) and by 1949 had reached about 30,000 tonnes (see Fig. ??.??).

During the 1950s there was a a general slowing of interest in soy in Latin America. In Brazil, however, soybean production grew rapidly, rising from 36,000 tonnes in 1950 to 150,000 tonnes in 1959. In 1955 Colombia began commercial soybean production and in the next few years became the second country in Latin America to pass the 10,000 tonne mark. In 1951 Prof. Dr. Pedro N. Ciancio, who had introduced the soybean to Paraguay in 1921, wrote a 505-page book entitled La Soja y el Problema Alimentario del Paraguay , which contained extensive information on soybeans and many soyfoods, plus many recipes. In 1955 Mead Johnson launched Sobee, the first commercial soyfood in Mexico and perhaps in Latin America.

The 1960s were a decade in which the foundations of soybean production and utilization were established in numerous countries. Argentina passed the 10,000 tonne mark in 1961, Mexico in 1962, and Paraguay in 1965. In 1963 Mexico passed Colombia, now second only to Brazil in soybean production in Latin America. In the early 1960s Costa Rica began enriching corn tortillas with soy flour, and Colombia passed a law requiring that bread be fortified with 5% soy flour. INCAP in Guatemala began nutritional research on soy flour and in the mid-1960s the Quaker Oats Company in Colombia started marketing Incaparina, a low-cost soy-fortified staple. In 1968 two companies in Mexico began commercial production of soyfoods (several soymilks and a textured soy flour) and the Coca-Cola Company introduced Saci, a soymilk, in Brazil. In 1969 Rev. Ejo Takata, a Zen Buddhist monk, began years of pioneering work with soybeans and soyfoods in Mexico.

By the early 1970s the isolated rivulets of interest in soybeans and soyfoods throughout Latin America had begun to form a mighty river. A number of interrelated factors were responsible for this sudden rise to prominence of soy. First, was the rapid rise in soybean production, pioneered by Brazil. Between 1970 and 1980, Brazil's soybean production increased astronomically from 1.2 million to 15.4 million tonnes; in 1974 Brazil passed China to become the world's second largest soybean producing country, after the US. Argentina's soybean production also skyrocketed during the 1970s, leaping from a mere 27,000 tonnes to 3,700,000 tonnes in 1979. In 1976 Argentina passed the USSR to become the world's fourth largest soybean producer, behind the US, Brazil, and China. Mexico and Paraguay jockeyed for third and fourth places in Latin American soybean production. Bolivia and Uruguay both passed the 10,000 tonne production mark in 1975, and increased production rapidly thereafter. Bolivia, in seventh place after Colombia, reached 60,000 tonnes in 1982 and Uruguay reached 45,000 tonnes. A more detailed analysis of the reasons for the rise of soybean production and trade in Latin America's major producing countries is given in Chapter 4, and details of events mentioned above are discussed in more depth at their respective countries and citations are given.

The second major reason for the rise to prominence of soybeans and soyfoods in Latin America was the large population and rapid population growth. In 1979 the population was 358 million; the countries with largest populations were Brazil (124 million), Mexico (66 million), Argentina (27 million), and Colombia (26 million), comprising over two-thirds of the total. The population was growing at 2.5% a year, an extremely high rate, which would lead to a doubling of population in a mere 28 years. Several countries had population growth rates of over 3%; Honduras (3.4%), Venezuela (3.3%), Nicaragua (3.1%), Ecuador (3.0%). Moreover there was a large gap between the rich countries and the poor countries, and an even larger gap between the rich and poor in each country.

The richest countries and their annual per capita income in about 1978 were Venezuela ($2,772), Argentina ($2,331), Chile ($1,950), Uruguay ($1,710), Brazil ($1,523), Costa Rica ($1,512), Mexico ($1,300), and Paraguay ($1,038). The poorest countries, from the bottom up, were Haiti ($260), Bolivia ($477), Honduras ($528), and El Salvador ($639). We will see later that the most active work with soybeans and soyfoods was generally in the richer countries, in part because they could be used as livestock feed and as an oilseed. The many reasons for the large gap between the rich and the poor in Latin America, and for the increasing of this gap, are well explained in Food First by Lappé and Collins (1978). During the 1970s the more affluent sector greatly expanded their consumption of animal proteins (especially poultry) and fats, while the poor increasingly became the target of programs to combat malnutrition. Both trends resulted in increased consumption of soybeans, although the rich used the lion's share of the total.

Third, seeing rapidly expanding markets for soy oil and meal, and recognizing soy oil as the least expensive and most versatile oil, oil processing companies increasingly switched to soybeans as an oilseed. Throughout the 1970s, the oil was the soybean product in greatest demand, and much oil was also imported as were increasing quantities of soybeans from North America, for Latin American demand could not keep up with domestic supply.

Fourth, starting in the early 1970s, there was a rapid growth in awareness of the many-faceted value of the soybean and its great potential to meet the needs of rapidly expanding populations. Key promotional and educational roles were played by various national and state governments and governmental organizations, private industry, international agencies (such as CARE), Seventh-day Adventist food companies, individual soyfoods pioneers, and the American Soybean Association (ASA). The ASA played an especially important role in sponsoring and coordinating key activities that affected the entire region or continent. In 1971 the ASA opened its first Latin American office in Mexico City. Mexico was chosen since it was (and still is) by far Latin America's largest importer of soybeans and soybean products (especially oil and meal) from the US and since it is geographically the nearest country to the US. ASA market development work in Latin America was based on the assumption that demand for soybeans and soybean products would continue to increase faster than most of these countries (except Brazil and Argentina) could expand soybean production, leading to increasing exports of soybeans, soy oil, and meal from the US to Latin America. In November 1975 the ASA sponsored the historic First Latin American Soy Protein Conference held in Mexico City. Over 300 people, including representatives from most Latin American countries, attended the event, and many fine papers were presented. In 1980 the ASA opened a Human Nutrition Center in Mexico City and sponsored a second international conference, entitled World Conference on Soya Processing and Utilization. Held in Acapulco, it drew over 600 professional registrants from 42 nations. Details of these events are given under Mexico. Other important regional events connected with the ASA included the 1974 annual meeting of the American Oil Chemist's Society in Mexico, where various papers on soy protein were presented, and a 1976 conference in Brazil entitled Brazilian Soybeans: Facts and Outlook.

Despite these many promising trends and events, interest in food uses of soybeans increased only slowly. In 1981 Gil Harrison, ASA's Director in Mexico, issued an incisive report, "What's Holding up the Introduction of Soya into the Human Diet in Latin America?" He noted that governments were hesitant to base national nutrition programs on imported products, and some did not feel they needed more protein, only more food/calories. Industrialists were hesitant to invest in equipment to manufacture soyfoods until there was a known market, while governments would not introduce soy-based nutritional programs until there was adequate local production of soyfoods. Most typical people were not nutrition minded and they rejected food specifically designed to improve poor diets, wanting to eat what the rich eat. Governments paid only lip service to nutrition, spending most of their money for surveys rather than effective programs. Whenever soy partially replaced another product (such as soy flour replacing wheat flour in tortillas or textured soy flour replacing beef in hamburgers), the established industry being affected lobbied to block use of the soy. And food processors were hesitant to change their formulas to make them more nutritious unless they could also make more profit from so doing.

Starting in the 1960s and continuing strong throughout the 1970s, large amounts of cereal-soy blends (such as CSM, CSB, WSB; see Chapter 45) were exported to Latin America by the US PL 480 Food for Peace Program. Many people were introduced to soyfoods via these nutritious products, a large portion of which were donated. In 1974, to take a typical year, major recipients were Brazil (12,100 tonnes), Colombia, (11,100 tonnes), Dominican Republic (7,200 tonnes), Ecuador (4,100 tonnes), Peru (3,200 tonnes), and Nicaragua (2,700 tonnes).

Nevertheless by 1980 only about 2% of all soy protein in Latin America was being used in human diets. The three most popular soyfoods were soy flour (both full-fat and defatted, used to fortify traditional grain-based products such as tortillas, bread, and arepas), textured soy flour (TSP or TVP, used to extend ground meats), and soymilk. Details on these three foods are given in Chapters 27, 40, and 45. The remaining 98% of the soy protein was fed to animals; 85% to poultry and 15% to swine. There was extensive government involvement in the soyfoods programs and many of the intended consumers were children and pregnant and nursing women. With several important exceptions there was not a lot of grass-roots soyfoods work, which got the people actively involved as they understood how they could benefit from using soyfoods.

Information in English on recent developments with soyfoods in Latin America are found in a limited number of publications. The following are listed in approximate order of importance: Proceedings of the World Conference on Soya Processing and Utilization (Baldwin 1981), Soy Proteins Symposium (Wilding 1975), Soybeans as Human Food: Unprocessed and Simply Processed (Wang et al. 1977, 1979), and Report on Initial Tour of Latin American Countries (Buchanan 1976).

Let us now take a brief look at developments with soy in various Latin American countries, listed in approximate order of importance and of date of introduction of soybeans and soyfoods.


The soybean has a long and colorful history in Brazil, starting in the 1880s and rapidly increasing in importance during the 1970s. Unfortunately relatively little is known of the early history since few documents have been translated into English and few English-speaking people read Portuguese. There is a great need for a native Brazilian to write an in-depth history of soybeans and soyfoods in that country.

1882-1919 . The earliest known reference to the soybean in Brazil was in 1882, when Gustavo D'Utra, an agronomic engineer, wrote a four-page article on "Soja" and mentioned that he ?? had introduced soybeans to Bahia. He mentioned various soyfoods (including miso and soy sauce), discussed their uses in several Asian countries, and noted that Sr. Dias da Silva Junior had distributed soybeans in Brazil (D'Utra 1882; Gomes 1975). By 1892 soybeans had been propagated in Bahia to be evaluated as a forage crop by the agronomist Dafert at the Agronomical Institute of Campinas (Dafert 1893), but they were unsuccessful at Bahia and at the Institute until the Agricultural Department of the State of Sao^ Paulo became interested in 1921, according to a report by the agronomist Aristo Rodrigues Peixoto (Gomes 1975). In 1913 Granato wrote a report "A Soja" published by the Sao^ Paulo Secretary of Agriculture; it discussed soybean production as well as food uses and food value.

Japanese played an important role in introducing soybeans and soyfoods to Brazil. In 1908 some 781 Japanese peasants, the first contingent, sailed by steamer from Japan to the state of Sao^ Paulo, lured by promises of fortunes and vast farmland, only to find they had contracted to work for coffee barons at slave wages. By 1915 some of these Japanese were growing soybeans on a small scale, which expanded and became more active between 1925 and 1940, when roughly 200,000 Japanese and Okinawans immigrated to Brazil, settling in Sao^ Paulo and northern Parana. By the 1970s Japanese constituted almost l% of Brazil's population, and farmers of Japanese descent produced 60% of the nation's soybeans ( Newsweek , May 1982 Ref??).

1920-1939 . In 1924 Rhoad and Carneiro published the earliest known research on soyfoods in Brazil. They did experiments testing the value of different types of soybeans for soymilk production. The first successful official trials of soybean culture took place in 1925 in Sao^ Simao, the high plateau area of Sao^ Paulo. From there the soybean plantation was moved to the country of Santa Rosa in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where some 60 varieties were tested. Soybean culture was given little attention thereafter, until the mid-1950s.

1940-1959 . Interest in soyfoods increased during the 1940s. In 1941 Silva wrote about soyfoods in his 133-page book A Soja, sua Importancia na Alimentacao seu?? Emprego no Pao . Starting in the late 1940s soybean production in Brazil reached 10,000 tonnes (metric tons) and began a period of remarkably rapid growth which lasted for the next three decades. Production expanded more than fourfold during the 1950s, from 36,000 tonnes in 1950 to 150,000 tonnes in 1959.

1960-1969 . The 1960s saw a fivefold increase in soybean production in Brazil, from 204,000 tonnes in 1960 to 1,057,000 tonnes in 1969. The major production was centered in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Sao^ Paulo, and Parana. During the 1960s Brazil's soy oil industry began its takeoff, and soy oil became the first popular soyfood in Brazil. Interest in soyfoods began to grow. In 1961 Dutra de Olivera and co-workers published "The Use of Soy Products in the Treatment of Protein Malnutrition," with emphasis on the use of soymilk. Their project, started in late 1959, gave promising results. In the early 1960s Brazil passed a law requiring 3% soy flour to be mixed with all wheat flour (Ref??). The results are not known. In 1963 three Brazilian scientists (Martinelli, Camargo, and Falanghe) from the University of Sao^ Paulo, Piracaciba, spent a year at the USDA Northern Regional Research Center in Peoria, Illinois, studying soyfoods, especially tempeh (see Chapter 35). Starting in the late 1960s, Da Costa did extensive work with soyfoods and soy protein products (Ref??). Commercial soymilk first appeared in Brazil in 1967 when Dr. Barretto of Laticinos Mococa introduced Solein, a mixture of 30% soymilk and 70% cow's milk. In 1968 or 1969?? the Coca-Cola Company introduced Saci, as described in Chapter 27.

1970-1982 . During the 1970s soybean production expanded explosively in Brazil, casting the country into world prominence as a major soybean producer. In 1974 Brazil passed China to become the world's second largest soybean producing nation, after the USA. Between 1970 and 1979 soybean production in Brazil increased more than sevenfold, from 1.33 million tonnes to 10.24 million tonnes. Details of this meteoric rise are given in Chapter 4.

Soyfoods were slow to be incorporated into the local diet in Brazil, in part because soybeans were developed largely as an export crop. As Dr. J.E. Dutra de Oliveira (1981) observed:

It seems that local governments are not aware of the importance of soya for the solution of their serious food and nutrition problems . . . The message that soybeans are good has circulated only among scientists--it has not reached the politicians and the people. In Brazil, where we have been working on the subject for the past 20 years, it is only in the past few years and especially now in 1980 that the Brazilian government has discovered that soya can be used in human food . . . What is basic to us in relation to the practical use of soybean and soybean products is the knowledge and support of local governments.

The growing interest in soyfoods in Brazil in the mid-1970s led to and was stimulated by a national conference held in July 1976 in Porto Allegre. Entitled "Brazilian Soybeans: Facts and Outlook," it focused on soy protein foods and their potential importance to Brazil. In 1978 the Eleventh International Congress on Nutrition was held in Rio de Janeiro; papers on soyfoods were presented by Torun and Viteri, and others.

One of the most active groups in the development of soyfoods in Brazil was ITAL (Institute de Technologia de Alimentos), the Brazilian Institute of Food Technology in Campinas. Chartered in 19?? to investigate ways of introducing foods of high nutritional value into the Brazilian diet, ITAL developed some 13 soyfoods or soy-fortified products including GESTAL (a widely distributed food supplement for low-income, pregnant and nursing women), VITAL (a soymilk, later produced on an industrial scale), soy-enriched cassava and corn flours, soy fortified bread, biscuits and macaroni, soynuts, and banana flakes with soybeans. ITAL also played a key role in helping to get soy introduced into 46 institutional products available in Brazil in 1980; Pereira listed each of these, with the ingredients, protein quality rating, use, price, and manufacturer. ITAL has also worked closely with a number of national nutritional programs using soy fortified foods to improve the diets of hundreds of thousands of infant and pregnant and nursing mothers (Pereira and de Campos 1981).

In 1980 in Brazil the most widely used soyfoods were soy oil, textured soy flour, defatted soy flour, and soymilk. Of the 46 institutional products mentioned by Pereira above, textured soy flour appeared in 17 products, soy flour in 15, soymilk in 6, soy protein isolate in 5, and cooked soybeans in 2, indicating relative importance.

Brazil's soy oil industry, established during the 1960s, grew dramatically during the 1970s, and many large crushing and refining plants were built by foreign multinational corporations. In 1974 Brazil passed West Germany to become the world's second largest soybean crusher, after the US. By 1980 Brazil was producing more soy oil than all nations in Western Europe combined. Consumption of soy oil in Brazil also increased dramatically, from 47,200 tonnes in 1965, to 146,900 tonnes in 1970, to 636,700 tonnes in 1975, then to 1,451,200 tonnes in 1981 (see Chapter 40).

Soy flour was first used in Brazil to fortify cookies, and then later other baked goods. Starting in 1978 Brazil began to permit the use of soy as a meat extender at levels up to 22%, especially in the form of textured soy flour or defatted soy flour. That same year Superbom, a Seventh-day Adventist food company in Brazil started to make textured soy flour. Demand for these products was caused, in part, by government-proclaimed "meatless" days, designed to allow more meat exports. In the early 1980s consumption of soy flour was expected to grow at 14% a year.

Soymilk, introduced during the 1960s, increased in popularity during the 1970s. In 1975 Olvebra Co. started producing a soymilk and ITAL developed VITAL. In 1977 R.H. Moretti introduced the "mechanical cow," a compact soymilk making machine, and by late 1980 some 80-90 were in operation in Brazil (Moretti 1981; see also Chapter 27).

As noted in Chapter 4, some of Brazil's soybean expansion took place at the expense of other crops, such as black beans ( Phaseolus vulgarus ; feijao ), the traditional protein source of the common people, usually served with rice. Rice and black beans were the two most widely consumed foods in Brazil. By 1980 a shortage of black beans had driven prices sky high and forced the country for the first time to start importing this national staple. Starting that year a campaign was undertaken by the government to teach the people how to use soybeans like black beans. The development of new black and brown soybean varieties helped in the program's success. In some cases 1 part soybeans was cooked with 2 parts black beans, thus preserving the flavor of the black beans. Extending this program, in 1980 the Secretary of Agriculture of the state of Sao^ Paulo initiated a 14-day campaign to encourage the food use of soybeans. Information was spread via the media and by demonstrations, and 512 tonnes of soybeans were supplied by co-ops to supermarkets (?? in Baldwin 1981).

Two soyfoods cookbooks were published in Brazil during this period. The first entitled Saude^ Total-Atraves^ da Soja e do Amendoim (197??; Author?? Date??), published by CEPAN, a center for research on natural foods, contained information on both soyfoods and peanuts. The first book entirely on soyfoods, O Livro da Soja by Jane Cadwell, was published in 1981. The author, an American 8th grade science teacher interested in vegetarianism and nutrition, was also working on a book of tofu recipes, scheduled for publication in 1983??

Because of the prominent Japanese influence, a wide variety of East Asian soyfoods are also available in Brazil, including many types of fine miso, shoyu, tofu, and soy sprouts. A small but growing interest in macrobiotics has helped to popularize these foods. Soynuts and soy coffee are available in some health food stores and fresh green soybeans are available at outdoor markets in season. A list of manufacturers is given in annual editions of Soyfoods Industry and Market: Directory and Databook (1984).

Given Brazil's abundant supply of soybeans, government and private interest in their promotion, a tradition of eating beans daily, and a large poor population, soybeans almost certainly have a bright future in that country.


Early Years (to 1939) . It is quite likely (but as yet undocumented) that soybeans were introduced to Mexico, and to Latin America via the early Chinatown at Acapulco, as discussed in Chapter 3. The earliest known reference to soybeans in Mexico dates from 1911, when the Ministerio de Fomento (Ministry of Promotion) issued a 36-page booklet titled La Soya , containing translations of various foreign publications on the production and utilization of the soybeans (Ref??). Perhaps because the country was then in the throes of revolution, little or nothing was done with soybeans at that time.

During 1932-35 experimental plantings of soybeans were carried out in Veracruz but were discontinued, apparently from lack of funds (Ref??). Efforts to use soybeans in nutritional programs started in Mexico during the 1930s, but details of this work are not known?? (Morales et al. 1981).

1940-1959 . In 1942 soybean seeds were imported from the US and the Banjidal (government banks that finance farm loans) distributed the seeds to farmers, but the experiment ended in failure due to problems with plant diseases and insects, as well as the inability of these soybeans to adapt to the soil, climate, and perhaps latitude.

The earliest known work with both soybeans and soyfoods was done by Dr. Manuel Gamio. In 1943 an English translation of his article on "Soybeans in the Indian Diet" was published. Gamio, Director of the Inter-American Institute at Mexico City, had first learned of the high nutritive value of the soybean in 1929, while attending an international conference in Kyoto, Japan. In 1940 he and his Institute started a project in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, in the valley of Mezquital, to grow soybeans and teach the Indians how to use them as food and to make soyfoods. Reporting that soybeans were already being grown on a considerable scale in the northern plateau of Mexico but used mostly for export or industrial use, Gamio expected his project to be funded by the Mexican government, his Institute, and the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. Nothing is known of the outcome of the project.

It is said (but not yet documented) that soybeans were sold in some food stores during the 1940s, but no instructions for their use were given. The people tried cooking them like Mexican frijoles, which are much softer and cook into a nice gravy-like sauce. To everyone's dismay, the soybeans never got very soft and did not mash well into a sauce. The little experiment was a failure (Dominguez 1982, personal communication).

The first commercial soyfood introduced to Mexico, Mead Johnson's Sobee, was launched there in 1955 for infants intolerant to cow's milk or mother's milk. As of 1982 it was still on the market.

The first real crop of soybeans in Mexico was grown in 1958; approximately 300 hectares (741 acres) were harvested (Baldwin 1981). In 1959 some 1,600 hectares (3,954 acres) were planted in the Yaqui Valley, in the state of Sonora, south of Arizona. Thereafter production expanded dramatically (Sainz Ibarra 1974).

1960-1969 . The 1960s were a decade of extremely rapid growth in soybean production in Mexico. In 1963 Mexico passed Colombia to become the second largest soybean producer in Latin America, after Brazil. Output increased from 14,000 tonnes in 1962 to 300,000 tonnes in 1969, or 21-fold in a mere seven years. The second state in Mexico, after Sonora, to grow soybeans was Sinaloa, located just south of Sonora on the Gulf of California. Production started there in 1964 and expanded rapidly, especially in Valle del Fuerte. Since then the soybean has been included in the plant catalogs of the various valleys of Sinaloa.

Starting in the early 1960s CONASUPO (Compania Nacional de Subsistencias Populares, the "National Company for Low Cost Staples"), an agency of the federal government that regulates the production of staples and supervises oilseed imports, began to produce soyfoods (Orr 1977), probably?? defatted soy flour. Starting in the late 1960s or early 1970s the Mexican Social Security Institute began to use soy flour and distribute it free of charge. Never very successful, the program was discontinued in the late 1970s.

In 1968 Felipe Suberbie and Felipe Tello of Industrial de Alimentos S.A. in Mexico City launched two commercial soyfoods, Isolac and Soyamalt, both powdered soymilks. In 1971 they launched Sustilac for infants allergic to cow's milk. By 1982 Soyamalt was still on the market. Also in 1968 the Seventh-day Adventists, headed by Paul Allred, established Alimentos COLPAC, a small plant that began to produce textured soy flour (TVP) and whole soy flour to make a base for soymilk. The plant, in Navojoa, Sonora, was located just south of the soybean-producing Yaqui Valley.

In 1969 Rev. Ejo Takata, a Japanese Zen monk and later Zen master who first arrived in Mexico in 1967, began his work with soyfoods. That year, while traveling in the mountains of Oaxaca state, he became aware of the malnutrition among the Mixes and Mazatecos Indians. With the help of the Japanese agronomist Toshihiko Onuki and of a group of Mexicans from the School of Agriculture of Chapingo and of his Zen A.C. (meaning of A.C.??) community, he established an experimental soybean farm in Oaxaca and promoted the cultivation of soybeans and the use of soyfoods among the Indian communities. He taught the Indians how to make soymilk and how to use the okara (soy pulp) in making corn tortillas. He gave demonstrations in more than 100 communities and in almost all of these the soyfoods were received with such enthusiasm that they became and remain a part of the daily diet. They are made from soybeans now grown locally by the Indians. In 1971 Takata and co-workers opened a dining room at the Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico (English name??). During the next 6 months they gave demonstrations and prepared 200 meals a day based on soyfoods including soymilk, okara with green vegetable, tortas with fresh soy puree, tofu in various recipes, crackers ( galletas ), breads, etc. In 1972 they began to give soyfoods demonstrations to the National Workers Syndicate of the ISSSTE, and to peasants and farm workers' organizations. They traveled widely into the countryside and their presentations and food were always well received. This work played a significant role in paving the way for soyfoods in Mexico. In 1973 the President of Mexico, Lic. Luis Echeverria, at a reception, recognized Rev. Takata for the work he had done with soybeans and soyfoods, then inaugurated a national soy program (as described below). In 1976 Takata and colleagues established an organization to teach appropriate technology (for food and energy), including soyfoods production. This work expanded in 1981 to the application of Japanese low-cost soyfoods equipment to small businesses, and participation in a national food program called Sistema Alimentario Mexicano (SAM). Takata and his co-workers have demonstrated vividly what individuals can do to help bring soybeans and soyfoods to the people in a country where they are not known (Lopez 1982, personal communication).


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