Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Growing Gold in Guatemala: Soybeans Join the Fight Against Malnutrition

Soy is a food that has been known and used for a long time. It is considered by some to be one of the most complete nutrients, and some call it the “wonder bean,” the “golden bean” or “meat without bones.”

One pound of soybeans is the equivalent of five liters of cow milk and 2.5 pounds of meat; besides this, it contains a lot of protein.

In light of the soybean’s properties, Children International’s agency in rural Guatemala taught a course recently on the use of soy as part of a nutrition strategy coordinated by the agency’s health program. The course was taught to mothers of sponsored children who are underweight and who could fall prey to malnourishment if they do not receive the help they need in time.

In these classes, they heard an introductory lecture to teach them how they can benefit and save money by using soy in food preparation, as a pound of soy costs only about $.39.

The mothers who participated learned how to carry out the process of extracting milk from the soybeans and make atole (a hot drink usually made with cornstarch), meat patties, hotcakes and typical food using only a few condiments and soy instead of beef, which is very hard for our families to get because it is so expensive – about $2.35 per pound.

At the end of the course the ladies and their children were able to savor the dishes they had prepared, and they remarked about the delicious flavor of the soy. Additionally, each of the course attendees received two pounds of soy so they could begin to experiment with making these dishes for their families.

Story by Lily Mariel García, with reporting assistance by Javier Cárcamo; photos by Lily Mariel García and Gilbert Carmona. All are from Children International's agency in Rural Guatemala.

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