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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.