Friedrich J. Haberlandt of Vienna (1826-1878) - Part 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A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and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, California


Haberlandt Part 1 | 2 | 3

Note: At this point Haberlandt adds a lengthy footnote from his friend and colleague Professor W. Hecke who followed with great interest the progress of soy culture in Austria and who had conducted taste tests with soy grits. Hecke encouraged the use of soy with potatoes to make a nutritionally balanced, inexpensive, tasty, and easily accepted basic dish. One part of soy flour or grits and two parts fresh potatoes were cooked separately, then mixed into a fairly stiff mush. Salt and fried onions were added as seasonings. The milk and fat, ordinarily added to mashed potato dishes could be omitted. Haberlandt then continues:

If used in this way, the soybean will someday play a major role in the diets of the poor. It will be more than salt for potatoes. With its fat it will replace lard and with its protein it will supply strength. Appropriate mixtures will be easily developed according to the other ingredients used.

As grits or fine meal (flour) it will also move into the palaces of the rich, in whose kitchens from India and China it is already a common item. It will only be a question of finding suitable ways of preparing them. The flavor of half-cooked soy grits resembles that of poppy seeds or almonds, and should be suitable as an addition to the finest foods otherwise made from meals (flour).

The soybean could be of major importance in the provisioning of forts and ships and in supplies for armies. It could justly be used as a better substitute for peas in `Pea Sausage.' It will compete effectively as a coffee substitute with other plant products now used for this purpose. Soy coffee is already produced in South Tirol (Austria) and Istria (a peninsula in northwest Yugoslavia). Mr. Franz Mark of Budapest pointed out the possibility of using soybeans as a chocolate substitute, for which it would undoubtedly serve better than the peanut, which, in Marseille, is mixed with sugar to make an inexpensive chocolate substitute.

Subsequent Influence on Soy. Haberlandt died in 1878 at the young age of 52, shortly after publication of his book. In 1879 his posthumous work General Plant Culture was published, edited by W. Hecke (cit??). The momentum generated by Haberlandt's work stimulated many subsequent studies in Europe on soybean and soyfoods nutrition and utilization; it was the main reason that this research began in Europe some 20 years before it began in America (see Chapter 54). We have seen in Chapter 50 how his work stimulated additional interest in soy at the Society for Acclimatization, which sometimes called the soybean Haricot Haberlandt. It left a long and strong legacy of interest at the University of Vienna that was subsequently picked up by Laszlo Berczeller, Wastl, and others (who?? see Chapter 53). Haberlandt's son, Gottleib, professor of botany at the University of Berlin, worked with soy during World War I and II to keep the interest alive. In 1940 he wrote an article entitled Die Sojabohne, encouraging Germans to make use of soy during the war . . . which they did.

Haberlandt's untimely death also caused a great loss of momentum in work with soybeans and soyfoods in Europe. Thomas Williams of the USDA, writing in 1897, noted of Haberlandt's work:

Although he succeeded in exciting a great deal of interest in soybean cultivation while making his experiments, and distributed a considerable amount of seed, very little seems to have come of it; for at his death in 1878, the interest flagged, and the soy bean has failed to obtain the place as a staple crop which he prophesied for it.

William Morse (1950) added: "Although attempts to grow soybeans in European countries have extended over many years, in general, the climatic conditions are not well suited to the successful culture of the crop. At present, production is largely confined to parts of European USSR, Austria, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania."

In 1980 significant European soybean production was found only in the Soviet Union (600,000 tonnes), Rumania (250,000 tonnes), Bulgaria (160,000 tonnes), Yugoslavia (45,000 tonnes), Hungary (38,000 tonnes), Spain (29,000 tonnes), and France (18,000 tonnes). All of these amounts are very small, the Soviet Union being less than 1% of the USA. Much of the soybean acreage in Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Hungary ?? was first planted by the Germans starting in 1935, as they prepared for World War II.

Haberlandt's work had its effect on America, for some (perhaps many) of the earliest varieties grown in the U.S. were progeny of those first grown and distributed in Europe by Haberlandt. One U.S. soybean variety, introduced from Pingyang, Korea, in 1901, was named after Haberlandt. It was widely grown in the 1930s and remained popular in the Virginia-North Carolina region until the mid-1940s.

Part 3
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