Friedrich Haberlandt’s Failed Vision: Soy in European Food Cultures, 1873–1945



At the 1873 Viennese World's Fair, the botanist Friedrich Haberlandt became aware of the soybean from East Asia. In a time of rising concern about national food security, he and his followers became obsessed with the vision of integrating soyfoods into European diets as a cheap source of protein. However, these attempts failed in the long run. As an “ersatz” version of scarce foodstuffs, soy was associated with food for the poor in times of need. Thus, middle-class tastes became reluctant to eat it, at least in times of plenty—which were to come after the age of world wars and great depression.

Author Biography

Ernst Langthaler, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Ernst Langthaler is Professor of Social and Economic History at the Johannes Kepler University Linz and Head of the Institute of Rural History in St. Pölten. From January to June 2016, he was a Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. His research focuses on agricultural and food history at regional to global scales from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.