Edamame soybeans show potential in Iowa

Even though edamame is growing in popularity with Iowa consumers, nearly all the edible green soybeans available in this soybean-producing state are imported. Soyfoods Council executive director Linda Funk is determined to change that.

This spring, Funk recruited Iowa Soybean director Ray Gaesser to raise an edamame plot on his farm near Corning. On a recent warm summer day, Ray and Elaine Gaesser, along with their son Chris and daughter Jen, joined Funk in hosting an edamame harvest event for nearly 20 chefs, food editors and news reporters.

The group handpicked the edamame and shelled them. They then teamed up to prepare a meal that included edamame salads, Iowa-grown pork chops and cookies made with the new high oleic soy oil.

“People think of edamame as a vegetable because they use it as a snack or in salads,” Funk said. “But it is a nutrient dense protein with many benefits.”

Regarding Funk’s dream that edamame will be grown on a larger scale in Iowa, Gaesser said growing edamame is not unlike raising conventional soybeans.  “The only special equipment it will take to raise it on a larger scale would be for harvesting,” Gaesser said.

Funk said, in addition to pea or green bean picking machines being modified for edamame, the other need would be for processing facilities, which in turn could be also be used for other fruits and vegetables.

“With the trend toward local food, I believe this is a very feasible goal,” Funk said.

Linda Funk, executive director of the Soyfoods Council discusses the potential for producing edamame in Iowa.

AUDIO: Linda Funk (4 min MP3)

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AUDIO: Ephraim Malag (2 min MP3)

David Jensen, executive chef for Iowa Health Systems in the Des Moines area, oversees food programs at the Iowa Methodist, Lutheran and Methodist West hospitals.

AUDIO: David Jensen (2 min MP3)

Ray Gaesser, Corning, Iowa farmer and Iowa Soybean director, and son Chris Gaesser discuss growing edamame soybeans.

AUDIO: Ray and Chris Gaesser (2 min MP3)

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