To most consumers, the soybean is an invisible food, one that is embodied in many of the products found in any refrigerator. Clearly, the soybean is far more pervasive in the human diet than the visual evidence would indicate.
Browsing the "Soybeans" Tag
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Between 2007 and mid-2008, world grain and soybean prices more than doubled. As food prices climbed everywhere, some exporting countries began to restrict grain shipments in an effort to limit food price inflation at home.Importing countries panicked. Some tried to negotiate long-term grain supply agreements with exporting countries, but in a seller’s market, few were successful. Seemingly overnight, importing countries realized that one of their few options was to find land in other countries on which to produce food for themselves.
Global demand for soybeans has soared in recent decades, with China leading the race. This growth has environmental impact well beyond Asia, as Lester Brown demonstrates.
This Summer’s heat and drought are showing their impact on US crops: September estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show 2012 U.S. corn yields at 123 bushels per acre, down by a fourth from the 2009 high of 165 bushels per acre.
There have been several points over the past few weeks when I’ve thought “You know what… let’s just take a break on agriculture.” Proponents of biotechnology, organic agriculture, and other farming methods get pretty passionate… but considering that agriculture has a substantial environmental impact, and that we’re, you know, eating the food produced by farmers, […]
Today I was doing errands and decided to buy a large fry at McDonalds. I do that occasionally, but I’m always a little disappointed with the flavor. It was pretty good, but not nearly as tasty as when I bought them as a teenager in the early 1970s. Each Friday night as I returned from […]
Farming is a unique industry. Even though less than 1% of Americans are doing it, it is still an industry with hundreds of thousands of independent decision makers. It is also a far more dynamic and adaptable industry than one might imagine. A look at USDA crop statistics before and after 1996 demonstrates this point […]
By Lester R. Brown In 1994, I wrote an article in World Watch magazine entitled “Who Will Feed China?” that was later expanded into a book of the same title. When the article was published in late August, the press conference generated only moderate coverage. But when it was reprinted that weekend on the front […]
By Lester R. Brown Today there are three sources of growing demand for food: population growth; rising affluence and the associated jump in meat, milk, and egg consumption; and the use of grain to produce fuel for cars. Population growth is as old as agriculture itself. But the world is now adding close to 80 […]
Image credit: Tiago Fioreze at Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license Originally published at Plan B Updates By Lester R. Brown Some 3,000 years ago, farmers in eastern China domesticated the soybean. In 1765, the first soybeans were planted in North America. Today the soybean occupies more U.S. cropland than wheat. And in Brazil, […]
[social_buttons] The chart above shows the historical average yields for wheat and corn in the US. Note that until the 1930s the relative yields of the crops were similar and were not changing. After that time yields of both crops began to rise steadily, but corn yields have grown at a much faster pace. What […]