Soybeans & Cars

QUESTION:  The first part of the world to harvest soybeans for food did so around 7,000 BC. In which country is that region today?
A)  China
B)  The United States of America
C)  Egypt
D)  South Africa

Soybeans have been a part of everyday life for a very, very long time. Their oil is used in countless condiments and the beans themselves are an excellent addition to any diet. Soybeans, while edible, can also be used in many different ways.  They are so diverse, in fact, that there was once a car that incorporated soybean in its construction.  Henry Ford, arguably the most famous producer of automobiles in the world, was a huge advocate of the soybean and, to prove it, he unveiled a car that incorporated soybeans on this day in 1941. That is not to say that the entire car was made out of soybeans. It did have a tubular steel frame (tube shaped), and the motor was the same as other cars of the era. But the exterior of the car, its body, was made of a composite material that incorporated not only soybean, but also hemp, wheat, and flax.  The car was a full one-third lighter than other automobiles of the time.  

Steel was increasingly difficult to come by halfway through 1941.  With war in Europe, and the threat of American involvement in it, car makers were pursuing other materials to incorporate in automotive production. The synthetic plastic that incorporated the soybeans was created for Ford was designed by a man named Lowell E. Overly, whose background was in tool design. He and Ford claimed the car was more durable than steel when they displayed it at Dearborn Days 75 years ago.  Sadly, no information was saved on how exactly Overly produced the plastic, and the car itself has disappeared. The story is that it was destroyed by another Ford staffer.  During the war, production of vehicles for civilian use was largely prohibited by the United States government, and after the war fiberglass became a popular alternative to metal. It may be high time for the soybean car to come back in style, though.

ANSWER:  A)  China.  It began before recorded history, and remains a major crop there, although the number one international producer of soybeans is currently the United States.