How green are your beans? That’s the question behind a scathing new report from the Cornucopia Institute on soy bean products. The troubling answer for many brands, including the tofu I have been buying, is “not very”.
“Behind the Bean”, which carries the none-too-subtle subhead “The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry”, looks at where the soybeans come from, and why consumers should be wary of beans grown in China. It also looks at the use of the neurotoxic petrochemical solvent hexane in the manufacture of many “natural” soy products.
The report rated brands of tofu, soy milk and veggie burgers. Seven companies earned the Institute’s highest 5-bean rating: U.S.-based Eden Foods, Vermont Foods, Small Planet, Farm Soy and Twin Oaks, and Unisoya and Green Cuisine from Canada. At the other end of the scale is a long list of companies that earned no beans, including quite a few that ought to know better. Companies were rated on their ownership structure (highest points given to family businesses owned by farmers), percentage of organic soybean purchases and disclosure of sourcing information, which dinged a lot of the private label brands.
Cornucopia, which has been a harsh critic of dodgy methods in the organic milk industry, says its goal is to boost organic agriculture. From reading the report, it sounds as if that goal is long overdue for soybeans.