Well, this has been a long time coming, people – I had a bit of an interuption about two months ago that has occupied my time (most pleasantly, I will say) and kept me from blogging about anything very serious or requiring research – but, here you go, a post containing my research and subsequent position on soy sauce…
First, I appreciated all the comments on my last post about soy. Your enthusiasm and questions always inspire me to learn more and make sharing what I’ve found with you all such an enjoyable and rewarding experience!
To introduce the topic of soy sauce, I want to quote one of my reader’s comments. April lived in Japan for several years, and I appreciated her observations…
My perspective on soy sauce is that it’s a fermented product that Asians have really consumed for centuries (unlike the rest of the refined soy products invented in recent years that are touted as “healthy” just because they were originally soy beans). I suppose it depends on the fermenting/refining process, too, though. I don’t know much about how they do it here in America…they still do it in giant wooden vats in Japan.
That’s the key, folks, to soy being edible – the soaking in “giant wooden vats”. April is right to observe that the traditional Japanese soy sauce is a fermented product, used for over 2000 years as a condiment giving Japanese cuisine its signature flavor. Listen to how Kayla Daniels describes the process in “The Whole Soy Story”:
Traditional Japanese soy sauce is a brown liquid made form soybeans that have undergone a long fermenting process. It’s made by adding spores from and Aspergillus mold to a mixture of roasted soybeans and roasted, cracked wheat. The culture is grown for 3 days, then mixed with salt water and brewed in non-temperature controlled fermentation tanks for six to eighteen months.
Kayla explains why all the soaking and fermenting…
Of all the foods that are commonly fermented, none needs it more than the soybean. Soy protein is notoriously hard to digest unless enzymes and microorganisms go to work on it first. These tiny workers not only predigest the soybeans, but deactivate the powerful protease inhibitors that inhibit our digestive enzymes and overwork the pancreas….Fermentation also helps deflate soy’s flatus-producing carbohydrates, its mineral-depleting phytates, and other problem-causing anti-nutrients.
I’ll be honest, people, I’m no scientist – some of these scientific terms go over my head. But what I did understand from reading the book was that soy is not a bean to take lightly. It should not be consumed unless properly prepared, and your typical bottle of soy sauce on the shelf in the grocery store is NOT something I want in my kitchen. Here’s why…
“The soy sauce-like products most commonly sold in American supermarkets and used at Chinese restaurants are commonly made in two days ore less. Soybean meal and often corn starches are rapidly reduced to their component amino acids using a high-tech process known as ‘rapid hydrolysis’ or ‘acid hydrolysis,’ which involves heating defatted soy proteins with 18 percent hydrochloric acid for 8- 12 hours, then neutralizing the brew with sodium carbonate. The result is a dark brown liquid – a chemical soy sauce. When mixed with some genuine fermented soy sauce to improve its flavor and odor, it is called a ‘semi-chemical’ soy sauce. Sugars, caramel colorings and other flavorings are added before further refinement, pasteurization and bottling.”
So, once one is convinced that one must throw out the soy sauce in their fridge and buy the right brand, what brand would one buy?
I went about this the hard way, when the answer was really quite simple -1.) look in the back of “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” for the brands they recommend, or 2.) go over to one of the great real food blogs like Nourishing Gourmet and ask Kimi. Unable to discern from the labels of various choices at my supermarket what would would be best choice, I finally called my friend and mentor-in-all-things-nourishing. Everyone said the same thing – The San-J brand of organic, wheat-free Tamari. It’s available in the health-food section of Wegmans around here. San-J is fermented for 6 months, though I’m not sure it’s unpasteurized (which would leave the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in tact). For a truly authentic, raw soy sauce, Kimi recommends this brand, though it is more costly. Personally, I’m satisfied making the switch to San-J, a tasty soy sauce without chemicals and MSG.
Speaking of MSG, I thought I’d quote Kayla once more to give you a bit of info on Braggs Amino Sauce, which many think is a healthier alternative to soy sauce…
Bragg’s Amino Acids – an unfermented liquid soy product invented by health food pioneer Paul Bragg – is a soy sauce alternative preferred by many health aficionados. Its main claim to fame has been a lower sodium content than tamari or shoyu. Lower sodium does mean low, however and the company was warned in 1996 by the FDA that its “no salt” level was misleading and that the “healthy” claim was unwarranted given those high sodium levels. The company was also told to cease and desist using its “No MSG” claim. As a “hydrolyzed protein,” Bragg’s contains free glutamic acid, better known as MSG, and aspartic acid, two well- known neurotoxins.
If you have more questions about soy, visit Kimi’s blog and browse the comments under her soy sauce post or read “The Whole Soy Story“.
So that’s it, people. I hope you found this helpful, ’cause this post took me three days to put together, with many sentences painstakingly typed one-handed while nursing baby Seth! But I love you guys, and if I can help once person to make a more nourishing choice in their kitchen, then it is worth it to me. Thanks as always for your comments and feedback. You are why I’m here!
Next time I have a spare few hours (ha) I promise to tell you how I replaced the soy lecithin in my favorite tortilla recipe!
Just wanted to say that I did read up on Bragg's amino acids. I had no idea. It sounds like scary stuff. Though there are two sides–one side says it great the other says it will make you very ill. The thing that I find odd is that usually anything with MSG will usally make me feel sick while eating it–not severely ill, but I do get a rapid heart beat and get flushed and sometimes get a bit nauseated. (I rarely eat fast foods for that reason). It usually only takes a bite or two of something that has MSG in it to give me that reaction. I've had the Braggs three times and it didn't cause any of the above symptoms. One of the things I read was that “naturally produced” MSG (as opposed to the “chemically” produced MSG that is in processed and fast foods, isn't bad for you.
I will have to do more reading to figure this out, but as of the moment I have lost my desire for any more Braggs amino acids. Now if only I could just find some real soy sauce.
I so enjoy your entries, Trina! This isn't about soy but I wanted to thankyou for your post on lard. I've been making our bread for years and hadn't come up with a healthy way to make the bread not stick to the pan. Shortening works great but I hated using that! Olive oil and coconut oil made the bread stick,, I found it! Lard worked GREAT today! Thanks SO much Trina! May the Lord continue to bless you!!!
Kind of ironic that I am reading this while eating tofu drenched in Braggs Liquid Aminos. 🙂
(I bought the braggs because it was the only “soy sauce” that doesn't have wheat listed as one of the ingredients. I read every lable on every brand of soy sauce in 5 different stores. I don't think we have Wegmans around here.)