Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ben and the Beanstalk

The soybean harvest is long since over, and corn harvest has begun on a small, experimental scale. Farmers cut a swath of corn with their combine, and their combine will tell them the moisture level of the corn. I've been told that 13 is the magic number: if the moisture level is above 13%, it's not dry enough. Wait a week and see what happens.

Benjamin and I took a walk a few weeks ago, through our alfalfa to the edge of our neighbor's soybean field. The soybeans stalks were all gone, save for a small strip bordering our property. I pulled out a few beanstalks and brought them back to our house.

I then pulled off the pods and shelled the dried soybeans.

Then while I was trying to take pictures, Benjamin reached his hand in the bowl.

And here is Benjamin rolling soybeans and a few newly dug potatoes all around my kitchen table (and the floor).

Soybean beanstalks don't grow very tall, only about 2 1/2 feet. So there's no hope of climbing one to the clouds to find a golden goose. But some people will tell you that soybeans are magic, nonetheless. Given my nature, I am always suspicious when people tell me things like that. Especially if their name begins with a M and rhymes with Fonsanto.

Soy is big business. BIG business. BIG and SCARY business. Anybody see the documentary King Corn? A similar film could be made about Queen Soybean. If you're curious, do a google search and be prepared to wade through a lot of propoganda from both sides. You'll read that it causes cancer, and you'll probably read that it cures cancer. You'll also find that you can't swing a dead cat in a grocery store without hitting something made from soy. It's everywhere -- you just have to read the fine print on the ingredient label, and know the fancy soy lingo.

The ironic part is that if Jack sold his cow to someone for some magic soybeans today, he wouldn't be allowed to plant them. That's because the soybean corporations have most of the soybean varieties patented, and you can't save seed from one year to the next for planting. Every spring farmers have to buy new seed. If you don't buy new every year, if you try to plant some of last year's beans in the spring, watch out for the soybean police. Yes, they do exist -- and yes, they have caught farmers and taken them to court. Kiss your golden goose goodbye.

In our house, our favorite uses for soybeans are rolling across kitchen tables (see above), and making maracas. Take an empty toilet paper roll, a handful of soybeans, some construction paper, tape and a few splashes of paint and glitter, and you have yourselves some homemade music.

Musical beans, magical beans. You decide.


Unknown said...

I love your site; it looks like you live on some beautiful land! When I came across this post I thought I'd share with you an article I found on all of the uses for soybeans. I have to say, though, musical soybeans are pretty creative!

Jo said...

Tina -

Thanks for your comment, and for the link to the soybean discussion. When I wrote in my blog that some folks think soybeans cure cancer, I was mostly joking. Guess I shouldn't be surprised to hear that some folks do - we live in an astounding world.

The Medical News Today article quoted in the petermaseye website indicates that soybeans could be potentially useful in creating gold nano particles, which are used in medical diagnostic devices.

Before today, I had no idea what a gold nano particle was. (I'm not sure I do, even now!) If soybeans can make medical devices that will make sick people better, more power to them. I think I'll stick to my maracas, though, and leave the soymilk at the store!