The soybean (Glycine max) is one of the most important food plants of the world, and seems to be growing in importance. It is an annual crop, fairly easy to grow, that produces more protein and oil per unit of land than almost any other crop. It is a versatile food plant that, used in its various forms, is capable of supplying most nutrients. It can substitute for meat and to some extent for milk. It is a crop capable of reducing protein malnutrition. In addition, soybeans are a source of high value animal feed.
Nevertheless, the soybean is adapted primarily to the Temperate Zone. Each improved variety has an adaptation determined in large part by latitude. Soybean requires careful home processing to bring out its best qualities, and if not well prepared, it has an off-flavor that is seldom appreciated.