Henry Ford: Passion for Plant-based Food

My journey with hempseed as food is similar to Henry Ford’s with soybean, minus the racism and antisemitism. This Chemurgy pioneer was also an advocate for the production of hemp for its fiber, grown on the Ford factory grounds.

I can’t help but think that if he realized just how nutritious the seed of hemp is, he would have done what I did and pivot from using soybean to hempseed to make foods like milk and ice cream. I know the flavor would damn sure be better, one of the biggest challenges with soya is masking the flavor, no such need for hempseed as it tastes like pine nuts or sunflower seed. The other challenge with soya is the, er, Fart Factor. The length of cooking time to inactivate the oligosaccharides in the soymilk is twice that necessary to process it into tofu. Consequently, many brands of tofu cause gas. Hempseed doesn’t, nor does it even have to be cooked. Richard Rose

On Mr. Ford:

“Ford’s ultimate triumph along the soybean line was the soybean dinner he himself dreamed up and had served at the time of the Ford exhibit at the Chicago Century of Progress Fair in August 1934.” A list of the 16 items served is given; soy ice cream is not mentioned.

“I was about eleven [i.e. in about 1934] when Ford was at the peak of his excitement about soybeans. You had only to talk to him for five minutes and soybeans would enter the conversation. He kept bottles of soybean milk in our refrigerator in case he got thirsty and in case I weakened a little to drink a little too. I only drank it, however, under the greatest duress.

“I still have the recipe he gave to mother for making soybean milk. The formula was developed by his chemical engineers… Soak one-half pound soybeans overnight and grind to a fine powder. Add two quarts of water and heat in a double boiler for one-half hour. Strain liquid through a fine cloth and season with a dash of salt. Add one or two tablespoons of syrup to sweeten. A dash of banana oil can also be added to make it resemble cow’s milk more closely. Ford was always shifting the formula around a trifle to see which sweetening syrup was best–maple or sorghum or honey–and whether a little more or less salt would improve the taste.

“Ford was evangelical about soybeans. He talked of how cooked soybeans tasted much better than lima beans did, and how soybean spread was much better for children than peanut butter. He advised me to try it in a soybean and jelly sandwich.

“Ford urged Mother to tell our cook to use a lot of soybeans in cooking and to overcome the strong flavor of the beans by adding plenty of onions. In his own household the cooks were ordered to sneak a few soybeans into every food on the table–into soup, salad, the peas or other vegetable of the day.

“Ford would now and then flash a letter around from some doctor or other who was grateful for Ford’s experiments with soybean milk because babies who were allergic to cow’s milk were able to use inexpensive, lifesaving soybean milk. And also those adults who were allergic to milk were able to enjoy puddings and things that they had never been able to enjoy before.

“As Ford foresaw the world, farmers wouldn’t need barns. ‘With no animals, there need be no buildings on a farm except the granaries,’ he said. Except, of course, the little farm factories…”.

“Henry Ford grew marijuana [hemp] for experimental reasons. It was “enclosed by a large cyclone fence. The Ford people thought it had all been destroyed after Ford died, but some years ago they found it growing wild again”.

“His campaign against the quadruped never quite ceased. He was forever sounding off against four-footed animals, especially those that provided meat. As early as 1919 or ‘20 he had said that the world would be better off without meat… And he further insulted the cow by calling it ‘the crudest machine in the world’”.

“Ford was as trim and lean as a split rail fence. He did not smoke or drink alcohol. He was a “health nut” and for a time he preached that sugar was dangerous. At the top of things he disliked most were Franklin Roosevelt, “monied” Jews and Judaism, Catholics and Catholicism.”

From “History Of Tofu And Tofu Products“, Copyright © 2013 by Soyinfo Center by Shurtleff and Aoyagi.