Seed oils originated as a by-product of the cotton industry. Cotton was grown for fabrics but had a large portion of waste in the form of seed. Cottonseed was then pressed for its oil, and after much processing and deodorization becomes a clear unsaturated fat that can be used for various things including personal care products and candles, but ultimately made its debut as a “healthy” alternative to lard for use in cooking and baking after the inception of chemical processing called hydrogenation which made a liquid oil solid in order to replicate lard.
Its safety or long-term use results were never tested, but it brought huge products to what would otherwise be a waste product. Later on, soybean would take its place. It was cheaper to grow and yielded more materials to work with. From the soybean, they could make livestock feed, soybean oil, and industrial uses such as lubricants and paint. There was no evidence that soy was safe and healthy, yet it was a profitable crop so more products needed to be made and sold from it.
Since the soybean has a high protein content, it was first used as a livestock feed, but soon would be shifted to be marketed and sold to us lucky Americans. Soy formula was the new healthy alternative to breast milk, and eventually, tofu was the healthy alternative to meat. It just so happens that soybean is an inexpensive crop to produce, but can yield billions of dollars when food manufacturers adopt it as a staple ingredient in their products. Soybean oil and soy derivatives continue to be sold as ingredients in the manufacturing of thousands of foods, even those sold in natural food stores. You can go into any health food or regular grocery store today and nearly any packaged food on the shelf will have some derivative of soy as an ingredient.
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