I usually listen to WGBH -- the public radio station in Boston -- on my commute to work in the morning. This means that I get to hear the list of companies that support Public Radio (which they want us to know are not to be considered commercials). One of those supporters is Archer Daniels Midland. ADM likes to be known as "the supermarket to the world" and also wants us to know that they are the producers of Novasoy brand Isoflavanes. Huh? Novasoy whatsis? Isoflavanes? What is an Isoflavane anyway? They have never explained this.
Every time I hear this ad (uh, I mean announcement of support for NPR and Morning Edition) I cannot help but think of the movie Soylent Green. This was a 1973 science fiction movie starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson. (It was Robinson's last film -- he died before it was released -- which added a certain extra poignancy to the death scene he played in the film.) It was not a big budget action movie, but it had a certain impact being released during the time of the phoney "energy crisis" of the early seventies. [The movie, by the way, was based on Harry Harrison's 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! for which I have not provided a hotlink to amazon.com because all three editions that they have for it are listed as out-of-print... but if you should ever come upon a copy, give it a read.]
So, I finally went to the ADM webpage and worked my way through their site until I discovered the truth: Isoflavones are phytoestrogens. Ah, of course, phytoestrogens. That explains everything, right? Okay, so I read more and found out that ADM extracts a powder from Soy that is high in phytoestrogens. Isoflavones are used in various herbal and vitamin compounds (think of pills in bottles sold in pharmacies and health food stores).
So, why can't they say "we make Novasoy brand Isoflavenes, a powdered extract from soy that contains phytoestrogens that are an ingrediant in many over-the-counter patent herbal remedies..." Oh, guess they need to mention that there are soyasaponins in there too... hmmm, yeah, okay, that does go on, doesn't it...
And even though I now have some idea what an isoflavane is... I still think about Soylent Green when I hear that promo.
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