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Mahatma Gandhi


65. Soya Beans

There are places where it is impossible to procure unadulterated ghee. It was partly with a view to getting rid of this eternal problem of getting good ghee that Gandhiji has been casting about for a substitute for milk and ghee. The high protein and fat content of soya beans and their procurability on the premises, combined with the successful experiment of Sjt. Narhar Bhave, encouraged Gandhiji to start the experiment in Maganwadi last week. Oil and ghee and part of the wheat ration was cut out of the dietary of those who joined the experiment and substituted by a soya bean ration equal in dietetic value. It is difficult yet to say anything about the results of the experiments, but one might safely say that it is no longer the bugbear that it once used to be because of the unpleasant taste of soya bean milk. We soak the beans for a few hours and steam-cook them and serve them whole. The taste is similar to that of the bean known as val in Gujarat and Maharashtra and sometimes similar to that of cooked ground-nut. As it swells to more than twice its size it is difficult to consume it as much as you do other beans and it requires a good deal of mastication. Let the reader also know that we have grown soya beans on our own ground plenty enough for our experiments.

Whatever the result, conservatives may note certain recent facts in the history of soya beans. The Far Eastern Survey for September 11 says that the United States has increased its soya bean acreage this year from 847,000 to over a million acres and its gathered beans will probably amount to 18 million bushels. "It may be assumed," says the paper, "that the growing interest in the soya bean and its products in the United States will be such as to increase both domestic production and consumption. With a steadily increasing acreage, the demand for seed will continue. The crop is used largely for feed and fodder; the oil is increasingly important in industry in paints, soaps, linoleum and so on. Although for a long time in the Orient the oil has been used in cooking and the meal has been used to some extent as a food, the soya bean is only beginning to figure in the American diet. An impressive number of foods - flour and flour products, candy, milks, oils, meat and margarine - in which it is used suggests a steady increase in its dietary use because of its high protein, fat and vitamin contents."

Harijan, 19-10-1935
M. D.