Originally Posted by MollyGoat
We talked about this in detail yesterday at my school, and since I know a lot of people on this board eat soy meats and other processed soy frequently, I thought I'd post some of the things I learned. Here is a step by step explanation of how they make some of vegetarians' favorite soy foods.
1. The soybean itself. An organically grown soybean is a wonderful thing, contain many essential amino acids, natural protease inhibitors, and vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, about 80% of the soybeans grown for commercial use in America are genetically modified. GM soybeans contain more of the typically allergenic compounds than do organic soybeans, so more people react badly to eating GM soybeans. Also, GM soybeans are often sprayed with a great deal of pesticides, because they are modified to be able to grow amidst high levels of chemicals. When you buy soy, BUY ORGANIC.
2. Breaking down the soybean--removing the fat. To make a processed soy product, the fat must be removed. The vast majority of the time, this is done through the application of toxic chemicals, such as hexane and benzene, two known carcinogens. Though it's possible to remove fat from the soybean through less toxic methods, it is usually not done.
3. Breaking down the soybean--removing the carbohydrates. Once the fat has been removed, the carbohydrates and fiber must also be removed. This is usually done in one of three ways: soaking the beans in extremely acidic solutions, soaking the beans in extremely basic solutions (think Drano here), or soaking the beans in alcohol.
We now have what is known as "Soy Protein Isolate" (SPI). A highly allergenic (if not made from organic soy) isolated protein containing dangerous chemical residue. This is now put into protein powder, meal bars like Luna and Clif, veggie burgers and hot dogs like Boca, Yves, Gardenburger, etc., and used in certain soymilks (like 8th Continent.)
4. Extruding the SPI--making TVP. If manufacturers want to make TVP, they will take the newly made SPI and extrude it through a metal form at very high temperatures and pressure. This can cause the proteins to become malformed.
So you guys...please watch out for your health and avoid processed soy protein and products that use it. I am not an anti-soy person; I think whole soybeans and tempeh (and to a lesser extent, tofu) are wonderful, healthful products, but you are potentially causing some serious damage to your health by consuming SPI products. Benzene, hexane and other harsh chemicals are not something you want in your body, and we absorb enough toxins from our environment as it is.
I'd also like to shout-out for Turtle Island Tofurky products, which use NO SPI in any of their foods.