Friday, September 25, 2009

Cash Crop

Very rarely do I take Route 14 from Gloucester all the way to Route 198, but sometimes my normal routine of 14 to 3 to 198 bores me.

Sometimes I take the long way home.

A few weeks ago when taking that long way was the most exciting part of an otherwise predictable and exhausting day, I turned down a road I have never, ever, driven down before. The road's name is immaterial, and that's a good thing since I can't remember it.

Wherever I was, soybean fields seemed to stretch forever. Above is a shed treading water in a sea of soybeans.

In this week's Gazette Journal, there's a teeny tiny blurb on page 9B:

Soybeans are top cash crop in Virginia

"A recent study suggests that most consumers believe soy is healthy. That should be good news to Virginia farmers, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation bulletin said, since soybeans are the state's #1 cash crop, according to the National Agricultural Statistics service."

From Wikipedia:

"Soybeans contain a high level of phytic acid, which has many effects including acting as an antioxidant and a chelating agent. The beneficial claims for phytic acid include reducing cancer, minimizing diabetes,and reducing inflammation. However, phytic acid is also criticized for reducing vital minerals due to its chelating effect, especially for diets already low in minerals."

Dating back to, oh, let's just say a long time, tobacco has long been heralded as the cash crop of Virginia. Here's more from

"When the first English settlers arrived in Jamestown in 1607, tobacco was already known in England. The colonists discovered that the Indians were using wild tobacco. ...Tobacco became the most profitable agricultural product in the Virginia colony, without which, the colony would have failed. Tobacco became a highly-bartered item that was used as money."

Without minimizing the importance tobacco played in the early days of Virginia, I have to say it warms my heart that soybeans are the state's current cash crop. We've taken the long way, but we just may have arrived.


Annie said...

A little healthier than tobacco!

Glad you enjoyed my dust storm photos!

T said...

I love driving by fields of these when I travel thru VA and TN in the summer.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Tobacco is so embedded in the culture of the south that it's taking a long time to change. I remember going to an Asheville (NC) Tourists baseball game, years after smoking was no longer allowed in most ballparks, but in Asheville they were puffin' like chimneys all around me. And then it occurred to me that NC would be one of the last states to do anything that ran counter to its historical cash crop.

On another note, I love the barn photo. It looks like it's being consumed by greenery. Mother Nature? She has aaaaal day.

Pueblo girl said...

Are the beans grown as cattle feed? I know they're uber-healthy and all, but I can't believe the world wants that many soy-burgers.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

PG- My understanding, limited as it may be, is that most of our soybeans and corn are used as feed. I thought I read somewhere that soybean oil was used in various other ways but it was late at night and I could hardly see straight, so it didn't make it into the post.

Even so, feed is way better than tobacco. There's just not a whole lot of good I can say about tobacco, but I have a longstanding love affair with soybeans.


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

P.S. Anonymous Mathews Native can give us the informed answer as to whether the soybeans are used for anything other than feed. I think her Daddy used to raise them.

Mental P Mama said...

Now I'm gonna be singing "Take the Long Way Home" all day...Love me some Supertramp:) And soybeans, too.

Living on the Spit said...

I also think it might be used as a fuel in the future...if that is the case, than VA might even be called progressive...imagine that?

Daryl said...

A lot healthier than toe-backee

Have you ever smoked soy? Amazingly smooth. I like mine iced with green tea and a shot of chai.

Caution Flag said...

I don't know if this is still the case, but tobacco lore aside, for years Kentucky's #1 cash crop was marijuana. Your life is now enriched by that knowledge, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Ninety-eight percent of the U.S. soybean crop is used for livestock feed. Soybean meal is also used in lower end dog foods. (yay google!)

As a kid I always wondered where all those soybeans Daddy raised were going. Since people didn't eat them then, or at least you didn't realize they were in your vegetable oil, and our cows were all grass-fed.

Of course other things can be made out of soy as well. There's a bio-diesel refinery in New Kent County, just past West Point.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the statement "soybeans....reduce inflammation". I think you know what I mean!
Baby Sis

Country Girl said...

I know you're talking about soybeans vs. tobacco as a good cash crop, but I'm just thinking of the long way you took home.

I do that sometimes because I like to drive and I need something different. Good one.