Tamari, Soy and the Grain Free Story

745px-Organic_TamariI received a few replies about my recent facebook post about using tamari and I thought it would be useful for everyone if I posted the substance of my replies.

Firstly, soy is NOT A GRAIN. It is a bean ie: is a member of the legume family.

Soy products in general are to be avoided for a whole set of other reasons. As soy is not a grain, I don’t normally comment on these issues as it is outside the scope of grain free living.  Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions has written this article on why to avoid soy.

As you will see, one of the major issues with soy is that the traditional way of eating soy was to ALWAYS ferment it and it was eaten in small quantities, not the way it is prepared and eaten in western countries (unfermented and in BULK eg: soy milk, soy flour, soy protein isolate etc etc).

In this article at the Campaign for Truth website it makes the following comment, which is the policy I adhere to:

“Fermented soy products such as soy sauce and Tempeh are rendered relatively safe by the fermentation process and these are usually only consumed in very small quantities anyway. Regarding soy sauce, there have been cases of toxins found in certain soy sauces, which are completely unrelated to the problems with soy protein. These were isolated cases and were limited to certain obscure brands usually only found in specialty shops. To be on the safe side, stay with recognised major Japanese brands such as Kikkoman.”

Tamari in Australia refers to the gluten free soy sauce that does not contain wheat, although it was pointed out to me that anyone on a special diet should ALWAYS read the label on ANYTHING they buy (I agree completely with this: I have found ingredients change and something that was previously grain-free will suddenly include grain-based ingredients). I personally have never come across a brand of tamari that contains wheat, so if you can let me know the brands that you know that do that would be great and I will include that on the website.

Soy Sauce contains wheat. (Although TECHNICALLY all soy sauce is tamari, soy sauce is just the english name for it…confused yet??) It really depends, in my experience, on what country you are in. (eg: in australia arrowroot and tapioca are the same thing, in USA they are different). To be safe let me reiterate: ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.

As the quote above highlights, consuming small amounts of fermented soy products is really the only way soy should be consumed. A splash of tamari is ok. Drink soy milk if you must, but don’t down gallons of the stuff thinking you are doing yourself a favour (and beware in the case of soy milk in particular of hidden grains.) Reputable brands are a must. You may notice on my website that I never use soy flour in any of my recipes and that is for exactly those reason outlined in the Nourishing Traditions book (The Weston A. Price Foundation is a great resource)