Edamame – green soy beans

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

On a recent road trip, we shared a bowl of Edamame with family at a restaurant – I didn’t tell my husband what it was, but waited to see if he would try something new. The brave, intrepid food explorer came out, and it want long till he was sucking green beans out of their shell like a pro. On the return trip home at the Sparks Costco, I found a large tray of Edamame for us to snack on while we drove through dinner time to our remote campsite in the Mountains of Northern California. Finally, after admitting how much he liked them, he asked just what are these anyhow. The time had come to confess I had slipped him a not necessarily so good food – soy.

Yes as you have already surmised by the title of this article Edamame is green soybeans, they have appeared in health food stores, Asian eateries, and can be found in a multitude of ways. Dry roasted, raw, steamed/chilled, or fresh edamame pods are in a variety of packages enticing consumers into thinking this sweet tasting bean is good for you.

Kaayla Daniel Ph.D., The Naughty Nutritionist, writes in her article What’s Edamame? And Other Questions about Green Vegetable Soybeans that historian William Shurtleff of the Soyfoods Center in Lafayette, CA, knows of no early references to green vegetable soybeans in China. Further, she writes:

“ An herbal guide from 1406 (Ming Dynasty) indicates the whole pods of young soybeans could be eaten or ground for use with flour, but it recommended such uses only during times of famine.  A Materia Medica from 1620  recommends edamame, but only for the medicinal purpose of killing “bad or evil chi.”  By 1929, however, edamame was definitely on some menus. William Morse of the USDA reported on a field trip to China that “the market is virtually flooded with bundles of plants with full-grown pods, the seeds of which are also full grown.  The pods are boiled in salt water and the beans eaten from the pods.”

Dr. Daniel also disputes the claims by industry that Asians have consumed soy for 5,000 or even 10,000 years. She says that digging into anthropology and history texts absolutely does not support this common claim that seems to have become regarded as fact in some health circles. “The oldest soyfoods, miso and tofu date back only about 2,500 years. Contrary to popular belief, soy was not eaten as food 5,000 years ago, but it was highly regarded for its role in crop rotation.”

The use of soy for crop rotation makes perfect sense as it is a nitrogen-fixing plant, For those who are gardeners or farmers you understand the value of rotating different plants through an area in order to recover the soil from monoculture planting practices.

GMO Danger: Most edamame on the market in the United States is sourced from genetically modified soybeans. GMOs are not labeled currently in North America.Beware that most edamame served in Japanese restaurants and featured on salad bars in North America is GMO.

GMO soy is a Hormone Disrupter






So while the Edamame was fun for a couple times, it won’t become part of our diet, and I do not recommend it for you either.

To your good health and GMO-Free local foods.



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Why Change isn’t Always for the Best

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

How is it that for centuries our ancestors consumed large quantities of high-fat foods and never fell victim to the health challenges of contemporary generations? To answer this, we must look at the lifestyle, food and preparation methods commonly used by past generations.  I have a small collection of antique cookbooks dating from 1886 up through current culinary times. It doesn’t take very long to see, previous generations consumed on the whole more vegetables, unrefined oils and fats, fresh meat, whole grains, and fewer daily calories than modern Americans.  An actual person grew, harvested and prepared meals versus industrial assembly lines and robots, as is the case for almost every food found in a grocery store today.  When we look back in time; it can shine a light on why we do certain things or when changes happened. By reflecting on past events, many that may not be as far distant as thought, the value of change for change sake may be questioned. One example is the use of glyphosate this one chemical, and its fellow family members became commonly available for agriculture in 1994.

Depending on where you lived fresh foods may have been delivered to your door each morning up through the 1960s, you went to the local butcher, baker, and grocer. The advent of Mega grocery stores like those common in the Pacific Northwest came on the scene much later.  The move to commercially prepared foods and the ideology of “better living through science” are predominately a product of post World War II cultural and economic changes.

Prior to World War II, America was filled with farms, many of which blew away in the great depression. It would be wrong to say no chemicals were applied to crops in the 1920s and 1930s – cyanide and arsenic were used to control pests. By today’s standards on average America’s farmers applied over 1 billion pounds of pesticides accounting for the lions share of worldwide use. A Study published in 2009 reported – “As a consequence; it has been estimated that as many as 25 million agricultural workers worldwide experience unintentional pesticide poisonings each year. In a large prospective study of pesticide users in the United States, the Agricultural Health Study, it was estimated that 16% of the cohort had at least one pesticide poisoning or an unusually high pesticide exposure episode in their lifetime”. [1]  Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for over 56 % of global glyphosate use. In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use. [2]

Following World War II, it would be almost four decades before Americans began relying on industrial foods. An unforeseen consequence of the depression were the changes in DNA from famine and food insecurity. Researchers today know the events of our grandparent’s life changed DNA for their children and grandchildren, which in some cases led to an increase in morbid obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease. [3], [4]   For those living in rural areas during the 1930-70s  food security was better than for those in inner cities;  the foods they consumed came from their own garden or local farms; they sometimes had periods of fasting or calorie reduction due to weather, income, and harvest. The terms “processed” and “organic” were unheard of; everything from condiments to the main course was made from scratch.

Lifestyle and environmental factors have also dramatically changed over time and with these changes comes increases in cancer, auto-immune, endocrine and cognitive illnesses. Every human in history must deal with some stress and trauma, but today we suffer from background stressors we may not even be fully aware of such as noise, electricity and artificial light. This in addition to our modern food preparation and farming practices contributes to the growing chronic health challenges we now face. So while I and all of you benefit from the changes that have occurred in science and, technology, it also behooves us to seriously consider the cost of change – the price may be higher then we want to pay.


To Traditional Food and Wisdom of Old



[1] Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide;  2009, Michael C.R. Alavanja, Dr.P.H. –

[2] Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally; 2016, Charles M. Benbrook –

[3] Brown University. “Famine alters metabolism for successive generations.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2016.

[4] Elsevier. “Trauma’s epigenetic fingerprint observed in children of Holocaust survivors.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2016.