By: Michael Paraskevopoulos
Teacher: Mr.Lum
Plant: Glycine max (Soybean)


Figure 1(image of mature soybean pod)

The scientific name of the soybean is glycine max. Soybeans (Scientific name: Glycine max) are an annual, summer legume in which bean pods grow from one main stem that raises from the ground (McGregor, 1976). They emerge out of a bushy, brown pod and there are about three to four seeds inside (as seen in Figure 1). The stem itself rises to about one to four feet above the ground, but no more than six (McGregor, 1976). When the plant first breaks through the ground surface, and for a little while after, it is a light green colour and as it matures, it turns to a darker brown. The ideal environmental conditions for a soybean to grow are temperatures at a minimum of 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit or 12-15 degrees Celsius (National Soybean Research Laboratory, 2010). The soil also has to be very loose and well drained loam for the seed to have a better chance at germinating and growing healthy (National Soybean Research Laboratory, 2010). The biggest soybean producer in the world is currently the United States, but other countries such as Brazil, China, Argentina and India are quickly catching up to them (Soyatech, n.d).


Figure 2(an image of the final product, soymilk)

Soy milk is made by soaking and grinding soybeans with water, then it is strained, the fluid which results after straining is soymilk (Information about soya, n.d) (as seen in Figure 2). Soy milk is produced fresh in the eastern parts of the world, most popluar in China and Japan (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2010). However, in North America, soymilk and other soy products are treated chemically to remove antinutritive factors (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2010). The part of the plant obtained is the actual bean inside the pod. The beans are seen (in figure 3) near the bottom of the plant and close to the soil surface. They are otherwise reffered to as cotlyedons. As seen in Figure 4, The US has a multi-billion dollar indusrty in the soy bean marketting. They are the main producers of soy in the world and thirty two precent of all their market is towards China, and Europe not too far behind with nineteen percent.

Soybean plant.
Soybean plant.

Figure 3(an image of the soybean plant)

Figure 4(a chart referring to overseas markets for US soy)

Making the Product
Soybeans are planted sometime in late April or early May depending on the temperatures that time of year. They need soil temperature to be at least about 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit to grow healthy

After growing and harvesting the soybeans until fully mature, they are shipped off to a factory to be processed and cleaned.

Once arriving to the factory, the soybeans are crushed and smashed into a puree, rinsed with water and then laminated.

From there, they are flitrated to remove any ungrinded chunks of beans or remaining dirt. In the filtration part, they can also be converted into a food people refer to as okara (a yellow pulp consisting of the insoluable parts of the soybean which remain in the fliter sack after the filtration process is done)

The final process is the cooking of the soybean puree. They are put in a slow cook oven for about 12-14 hours and then taken out. After being strained, the liquid that remains is the end result of soymilk.

Beneficial Impacts

Soymilk and other soy products have a couple of benficial. According to ‘The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’, serum, and LDL cholestral and tryglycerol and icreased to content of HDL(or healthy cholestral) ("The American journal," 2005). Also, soy milk is a good source of protein, Vitamin B and calcium ("Soy milk vs.," 2007). It is a great alternative for lactose intolerant people or many people who are allergic to a traditional cow’s milk ("Soy milk vs.," 2007). In fact sixty percent of all full grown adults in the world are not able to digest lactose (Weise, 2009). The invention of soy milk and countless other soy products helps compensate for people who are allergic to some foods. Some other soy products include soy sauce, vegetable oil, tofu and tempeh are the major and most popular soy products.

Harmful Impacts

Many people think that soy is an extremely healthy food and is a great source of many essential nutrients like calcium, protein and Vitamin B. It is in fact healthy and does have many nutrients, but that’s not all there is to the product. The truth is, soymilk can be harmful to your body. It has large amounts of anti nutrients that prevent the use of trypsin (an important enzyme necessary in breaking down proteins) (Geary, & Ebeling, 2006). Some people say soybeans used to be a waste product before people could turn it into soymilk and various other products to put up for sale (Geary, & Ebeling, 2006). Soymilk may not be bad for the environment since it is an organically-grown product, but there are indirect ways that it harms. As said before, the major soybean manufacturers are in the US and China, this means that products will have to be driven and flown here from foreign countries, not to mention the factories it takes to clean the soybeans after being harvested.


In conclusion, glycine max is a unique plant found in many countries around the world, The US, China and India being three of the main producers. Soymilk is the result of soaking and grinding beans with water and straining the fluid. This product is a great alternative for the many people who are lactose intolerant but also may be harmful to the body because it contains antinutirients.


The american journal of clinical nutrition. (2005, February). Retrieved from

Geary, Mike, & Ebeling, Catherine. (2006). The dark side of soy. Retrieved from

Information about soya products. (n.d.). Retrieved from
McGregor, S.E. (1976). Legumes and some relatives. Retrieved from

National Soybean Research Laboratory , . (2010, February). Planting, growing and harvesting soybeans. Retrieved from

Soyatech, . (n.d). Soy facts. Retrieved from

Soybean:encyclopedia-soy bean. (n.d). Retrieved from

Soy milk vs. regular milk. (2007, March). Retrieved from

Weise, Elizabeth. (2009, September 15). Sixty percent of adults can't digest milk. Retrieved from