The Society for Acclimatization, France - Page 3

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A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and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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Acclimatization Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Paillieux's Le Soya (1880). As mentioned above, in 1880 Paillieux published 
"Le Soya, sa composition chemique, ses varieties, sa culture, et ses usages" (The Soybean, its Chemical Composition, Varieties, Culture, and Usages), a 117-page article, which contained all earlier articles on soy published by the Bulletin (in both abridged and unabridged forms), plus a great deal of new information and new perspective, inspired largely by the work of Haberlandt in Austria and Germany from 1875-1878. We will summarize this two-part article here in outline form.

Introduction. "At the moment, when all appearances seem to indicate that a precious plant is about to take the place it deserves in our culture, we consider it our duty to bring back to light the previous efforts of the Society for Acclimatization to introduce and propagate this plant in France. We will therefore publish excerpts and verbatim reports of everything concerning soya run in the bulletins of our Society during the past 25 years. We cannot think of a more interesting introduction to this study. From 1855 until the present, the Society has not ceased to receive and distribute soya seeds, and to make known its cultivation and utilization. It has rewarded successful trials by recognition and publication, and described the production processes of the industries that use soybeans.

The question of soy has been dormant for a long time. But it awakens today with cultivation experiments that have been run for 7 years in Etampes (19 miles southwest of Paris), using seeds given by the Society and with tests of tofu making done in Marseilles. It was finally brought into the limelight with the introduction of the plant in Austria-Hungary, Bavaria, Italy, etc. The question is now ripe for a solution.

We do not know, whatever our hopes may be, what the future holds for soya. But if its cultivation one day renders a great service to our country, all honor would belong to the Society, which has not ceased to facilitate and encourage it during the past quarter century."

Then follows 15 pages of excerpts from past articles and reports run in the Bulletin, which we have already introduced above.

1. The Botany of Le Soya (1 page). It is mentioned that Linneaus gave this plant the name Dolichos Soja and Moench gave it the name Soja Hispida. For Bentham and Hooker the plant is nothing but the veritable Glycine. This is also the opinion of almost all modern botanists. (In Paillieux it is generally called Soja Hispida).

2. Le Soya in Japan (9 pages). The first 3 1/2 pages are a discussion of the work of Englebert Kaempfer and a French translation of the entire section on soy from his Amoenitatum Exoticarum. Then are given the Japanese names and descriptions of 22 species of Japanese soybeans, followed by 2 pages of translation about soy from a work entitled Japan at the World's Fair of 1878, written in French by a Japanese. Next is a 2-page practical recipe for how to make shoyu in France (by an unnamed correspondent, who makes shoyu in France, having personally observed the process in southern Japan and heard of how it is done in the north) and a 1-page description of how to-fu, also called fromage de daizu, is made in Japan, including the first description of frozen tofu in the West.


Paris Exposition 1878

3. Le Soya in Cochin China (4 pages). General information about the use of soy in French Indo-China, with special information on pois noirs (black soybeans).

4. Le Soya in China (5 1/2 pages). This is subdivided into sections on soy oil, tofu (le fromage de soya, teou-fou) and fermented tofu, and soy sauce (tsiang-yeou). In the section on tofu is reproduced a report by the Society of Horticulture of Marseilles on how to make two types of fermented tofu (fromage chinois), called "white cheese" and "red cheese."

5. Le Soya in Austria-Hungary (19 pages). A French translation of the important parts of Haberlandt's book Die Sojabohne.

6. Le Soja (17 pages). By Count Henri Attems, primarily about soybean cultivation, with some letters from growers, and with some interesting observations about use as food. "One is equally wrong if one thinks that le soja is only a good pasture crop, or that it is only delicate fare for the tables of the rich. These two extremes in ways of thinking are now popular in praising soja, but we need a more solid foundation. Soja has been discovered by a large class of less affluent consumers, by peasants and workers. Although it is an ancient plant from Asia, future generations will hold it in high regard. Out of recognition, they may even call it the `Haberlandt Bean' (Haricot Haberlandt). It will soon be on a par with potatoes, corn, and broad beans. It may surpass the latter, for it contains much more protein and fat, and because it is more hardy and higher yielding." He mentions that he enjoys the whole dry beans served like green beans, as is or in salads. He recommends the production of miso and miso pickles for provisioning ships, and preserving the food of workers in fields and forests. He also recommends adding baking soda to the cooking water to tenderize soybeans and concludes his long article by saying, "May the precious conquest of soya spread more and more for the benefit of humanity, a benediction for agriculture and for people."

7. Le Soja in France (15 pages). This section begins with a history of the cultivation of soybeans in France from the time of Buffon in 1739, followed by an attempt at a sober appraisal as to why a plant with such obvious merits that has been known in France for over 140 years is still virtually unknown: established institutions such as the Museum of Natural History and the government had taken exasperatingly little interest in aiding the private efforts of the Society to introduce new plants; chemical analyses, demonstrating the nutritional superiority of the soybean, had been lacking until about 1855 when Fremy did the first such tests, followed by tests in about 1866?? by Champion ?? and L'Hote. Yet this data was not yet found in books on agricultural chemistry and nutrition; there was a general resistance, especially on the part of the establishment, to growing new crops and using new foods; and finally the basic approach of the Society in introducing soya first and foremost as a human food was questioned, "Our point of departure has not been successful. The soja has been presented simply as a new legume. But it is more difficult to cook than other legumes. The flavor is good, but not superior. Fresh, it takes lots of time to shell. Dry, it requires pre-soaking for 24 hours in water that is not hard. If one is ignorant of its nutritive properties, there would be little motive to grow it, and one would keep growing the traditional legumes instead.

"The people of Austria-Hungary have been wiser. Having already acquired incontestable proof of the value of soja for livestock fodder, they have no other objectives. They seem at the very least to have considered as secondary the usage of soja for human nutrition. Therefore as soon as they had enough seed, they cultivated large areas, while we were still cultivating the furrows between the rows in the kitchen garden for use as food.

"The seeds will soon be found in all the good markets of southern Germany. The small farmer will find them all around him at low price. In eating them, he will find himself strengthened. Then he, in turn, will plant them himself.

"We tried to introduce soja as a food plant for the garden rather than as a fodder and oilseed. We started where we should have finished. If we persist in this direction, we shall fail. Soja will fall back into oblivion, while in southern Germany, the Danube provinces, central Russia, and Italy, it will soon be widely grown and serve as a source of riches."

In the section of "Accessory Uses" (p. 571) it is stated that "Soja will serve to make miso, shoyu, tsiang-yeou (Chinese soy sauce, which is greatly inferior to Japanese soy sauce), Japanese to-fu and Chinese teou-fou, red and white fermented tofu, and soy coffee (le cafe de Soja)." Many of these foods had been prepared by the Society and some (coffee, soy cheese) presented for sampling to the National Horticultural Society. They worked to introduce a lightly salted soy cheese (fromage demi-sel) to the people around Paris, a creatively kneaded partially fermented tofu to get a marbling resembling that of Roquefort on the inside. They finish by saying, "We are inclined to believe that defatted soy meal can be ground to a flour for use in human nutrition. It will consist of 40 to 50 percent nitrogenous materials, will have a good flavor, and will serve to make soups very rich in nutrients and easier to cook than when made from whole beans."

Conclusion and French Analyses (3 pages). First, a detailed nutritional analysis from May 1880 by M. H. Pellet of three soybean seeds is given, followed by the report's concluding words: "If we were agronomists, we would preach by example by cultivating soja on a large scale. If we were chemists, we would be able to demonstrate scientifically the superiority of these seeds and their forage for human food and livestock fodder. But we are neither agronomists nor chemists. And we know nothing but what we have learned in practice and from the science of others. We are nothing but simple collectors of documents and information, but these documents, this information, and our modest personal experience have formed and fortified our opinion. We believe in Soja."

Appendix (17 pages). First comes 13 pages of reports on soybean culture experiments done during 1880. Then a 3-page letter from Paul Simon, former French consul in China, concerning soybean farming and tofu preparation in China. Then an early description of making soy sauce in Indonesia by Isaac Titsing (1781), and finally some information about soybeans from the ancient Chinese herbal Pen Ts'ao Kang Mu.


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