The history behind soya in feeding scheme meals
Fresh or frozen animal-sourced foods were not always available. The food processing industry came to the rescue during the 1930s. Raw soybeans cannot be digested. They must be fermented, sprouted or cooked for 3 hours. Extrusion cooking made substitute or ‘stand-in’ meals possible. Soya mince, breakfast cereals and dry pasta ‘stand-in’ meals served several new purposes. Soya tastes like cardboard. Loads of sugar and other flavourings are needed to make it edible (this is another can of worms we can explore later).
Stand-in meals do have their place. The army relied on the ‘stand-in’ meal solutions for troops out of kitchen range. Modernized consumers with limited time to cook - especially while on the run in the mornings, loved the convenience. These meals were at first considered tummy fillers. It kept the hunger at bay. Never to replace real foods. The stand-in meals were cheap, available with shelf-lives beyond 12 months.
Soon these 'stand-in' meals became the 'go-to' meals served to poor children in feeding schemes across the globe (e.g. World Food Program and USA Aid). We have to ask. Are the maize and soya-based ‘stand-in’ meals good enough to deliver essential growth nutrients to children? Knowing it is often the only meal they receive for weeks and months? Food scientists say, NO! The meals will preserve life but never support growth.
You are welcome to check for yourself. Do the people working at feeding schemes eat the sugar-loaded cereals themselves? Do they offer the ‘highly nutritious', micronutrient fortified maize-soya-sugar blends to their own children at home? Rarely ever!
Why then are certain foods hailed as being nutritious enough to nourish the poor but do not make the cut when it comes to the middle class? Is it ignorance?
Maybe feeding schemes just do not have alternatives to meet their budgets.