New Documentary on Soybeans Includes Henry Ford Museum and Detroit Grand Prix

On June 22, a new documentary, “GroundBreaking: A Story of Innovation,” which showcases the unique innovative power of the soybean and covers automotive pioneer Henry Ford, Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, will premiere on A&E at 1 p.m. EDT.
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Henry Ford’s experiments with soy-based vehicle body parts are part of a new A&E documentary debuting June 22. // Screen capture courtesy of A&E

On June 22, a new documentary, “GroundBreaking: A Story of Innovation,” which showcases the unique innovative power of the soybean and covers automotive pioneer Henry Ford, Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, will premiere on A&E at 1 p.m. EDT.

With an American origin story that dates back nearly 150 years, the soybean plant has evolved into a resource used by farmers, chemists, historians, chefs, and astrobiologists.

The documentary features experts diving into how soy unlocks sustainable, biobased alternatives, best-in-class performance, optimized nutrition for animals and humans alike, and a viable future to empower space exploration.

“Throughout my travels, I’ve witnessed the infinite opportunities that soybeans can create,” says Jeff Houghton, the documentary’s host. “I’ve been astonished to see the magnitude of where and how soy can show up in the world.

“Through this story, we uncovered how something so small could have such a huge impact on the planet, from global trade to the food we consume to the clothes that we wear to the cars we drive.”

“GroundBreaking: A Story of Innovation” visits nine states, and talks to 15 experts about the past, present, and future soybeans can create.

The stops include:

  • The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, where seeking a crop that could yield great industrial value to him, Henry Ford created a prototype soybean car in 1941 with all of the major exterior body panels made out of soy-based plastic.
  • Skidway Island, Georgia, where the very first soybeans in America were brought over from China and planted by Samuel Bowen in the 1880s.
  • Farms in Arkansas and Indiana, where seed innovation enhances sustainability, reduces environmental impact and improves plant health and animal diets.
  • A Mars simulation at the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, where the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation explores soy as a crop that could potentially be used for future Mars missions by planting and researching soy in simulated Martian soil.
  • And additional visits to Kansas, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to explore how soy shows up at the KCBS World Invitational BBQ Contest, aquaculture farming at Auburn University, a Pittsburgh stains and coatings lab, and the Detroit Grand Prix.

“As a soybean farmer, our primary goal is to grow a crop that replenishes the soil and nourishes the world through food, feed and other renewable products,” says Jim Douglas, a soybean, corn, and pig farmer from Indiana featured in the documentary.

“The soybean’s increasing versatility, driven by our ability to innovate and collaborate with industry and academic partners, will allow me to pass this land down to my son and leave a legacy of sustainability driven by the next generation.”

“GroundBreaking: A Story of Innovation,” a first-of-its-kind documentary exploring the future of agriculture and the wide scope of a single crop’s global potential, is funded by the half-million U.S. soybean farmers, like Douglas, who invest in creating sustainable soy solutions for every life, every day.

Soybeans are the United States’ No. 1 agricultural export, producing one-third of global soy output and overall adding $124 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

One acre of soybeans, which equates to about 50 bushels or 3,000 pounds, is enough protein and oil to produce animal feed for 800 pounds of boneless chicken (which could feed 10 people for a year), 50 gallons of renewable diesel fuel (enough for a semitruck to travel from NYC to Pittsburgh), and two years of an average person’s vegetable oil consumption.

Continued innovation is creating the potential for the soybean to serve as a catch-all fossil fuel replacement in the near future.

“On top of its many uses on Earth, the soybean’s potential on Mars is something we’re actively researching, due to its ability to grow in microgravity with very limited resources,” says Michaela Musilova, a Slovak astrobiologist currently operating at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS).

“Soybeans are one of eight crops that could be used during long-duration space missions, and really serves as a Swiss Army knife due to its versatility.”

To see a trailer of the documentary, visit GroundBreaking: A Story of Innovation.

The documentary was produced by St. Louis-based Spot Content Studio and directed by Sam Pinkstone. In addition to premiering on June 22 at 1:00 p.m. EDT on A&E (check local listings for more information), the film also is available to stream on the A&E App and aetv.com.