A client called to ask what she should feed her new pony. She then admitted that a respected equine friend didn’t like the feed I use because it contains soy. I applauded my client for asking and her friend for being suspicious of soy. I think soy gets way too much credit for being healthy.
I am allergic to soy, so I am vigilant about reading labels. One of my biggest surprises was about tuna fish in a can. I know to look at the label when tuna fish is packed in oil because it’s often soy oil that’s used. But would you believe that tuna fish packed in water sometimes includes soy broth?! I am unable to buy tuna fish at my local grocery store for this reason. It’s very frustrating but it’s also evidence of how ubiquitous soy is in our food system.
I applauded my client’s friend for being suspicious of soy because not only have I learned that soy shows up in the strangest places but it’s also widely assumed that all soy edibles are created equal. After all, Asian cultures have consumed soy sauce and tempeh for centuries. The difference of course, is that these are fermented soy products; the fermentation process makes the soy more nutritionally palatable. Soy in the forms found in many modern foods do not have the same benefits (click here for more information.)
When it comes to animal feed, soy is often found as an ingredient, but it is almost always in a partial form: soybean hulls, soybean oil, and soybean meal are examples. These partial forms result when the more valuable ingredients have been extracted, usually using petro-chemical solvents. When my client asked, I explained that soy can be beneficial when produced with great care, as is the organic whole extruded soybean meal in the low NSC feed I use. In fact, when the manufacturer was in danger of losing the only known source for their soybean meal, they exercised an extraordinary option: they purchased the mill rather then switch to a lower quality ingredient. They exercised this option because the company’s founder had previously learned about the difference between beneficial soybean meal and typical soybean meal; you can read it by clicking here.
I have written a number of articles about the benefits I have seen from this particular low NSC feed which contains the carefully produced soybean meal (click here to contact me for more information.) However, I concluded my conversation with my client instead by saying that I’ve toured the manufacturer’s mill, met the company’s founder, had lunch with the CEO, and talked with the Vice President. All of these experiences confirmed for me that the manufacturer would never use an ingredient that had harmful effects on any animal – human or otherwise.
As I’ve learned, tuna in water and soy in horse feed aren’t always what we are led to believe. The key is understanding who is responsible and how much they care. I’ve never had reason to doubt how much that company cares.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2015
For more information about the supplements that keep the ponies at Willowtrail Farm in optimal health, click here.