Dr. Harry W. Miller: Work with Soy
A Special Exhibit - The History of Soy Pioneers Around the World - Unpublished Manuscript
by William Shurtleff and Akiko
Among the many people who pioneered in
bringing soyfoods to America and to the West, two men of great vision,
dedication, and perseverance deserve special mention: Dr. Harry W. Miller
and William J. Morse. Dr. Miller, the well-known "China Doctor"
(after his biography by that title), was a world-famous missionary doctor
and surgeon, and founder of more than 15 Seventh-day Adventist hospitals
around the world. He was one of those unique individuals who was both a
dreamer and a doer, and who inspired almost everyone who knew him. Like
W.J. Morse, he considered it his personal responsibility to awaken the
West to the great potential of the soybean and soyfoods. (But where Morse
was interested in soybean agronomy, livestock feeding, and food,
Miller was interested only in food uses and actively opposed the feeding
of soybeans to livestock to produce flesh foods.) Dr. Miller can also be
considered the founder of the modern soymilk renaissance in Asia. The
development and popularization of soyfoods, and especially soymilk, was
his lifelong hobby. Despite his other numerous and demanding careers, he
never lacked the time, over a span of almost 75 years, to continue his
ongoing research and work in this new field that he loved so well.
Growing Up (1879-1902). The first of five children of Amanda Ehlers and John Oliver Miller, Harry was born on 2 July 1879 in a log cabin on a farm in the small town of Ludlow Falls, Ohio (just north of Dayton). His father was a school teacher. He later wrote that he delighted in working on the family farm but found it "disgusting" to have to kill and eat the animals he had raised. When he was 12, Harry's parents became Seventh-day Adventists. Two years later, after much study, at the annual camp meeting, he and a friend decided to be baptized and become Adventist church members. At age 15 Harry entered secondary school at the Adventist-run Mt. Vernon Academy in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He loved the strict, puritan atmosphere, the vegetarian diet, and the teachings of the church. In 1898, at age 19, he enrolled in medical school at the newly opened, Adventist-run American Medical Missionary College in Battle Creek, Michigan, which was associated with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium (founded in 1866), the largest and most progressive medical institution of its kind in America at the time, and the birthplace of modern dietetics. Opposing the popular cures of the mid-1800s (drugs, bleeding, etc.), the sanitarium recommended diet (especially a simple grain-based vegetarian diet), exercise, hydrotherapy, and good mental health as the foundations of healthful living and natural healing. These teachings had a lifelong effect on Miller. Working to pay his own tuition, room, and board, Miller led guided tours through the sanitarium and food factory, which forced him to learn more about the various foods (America's first meat analogs and breakfast cereals) and how they were made. Miller was deeply influenced by the personality and teachings of Dr. J.H. Kellogg, who personally taught a number of the classes Miller attended, treated him like a son, and helped put him through college. One of America's great pioneers of medicine, nutrition and soyfoods, Kellogg stressed to the small class the importance of preventive medicine, nutrition, and diet. He strongly opposed the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Miller later noted that almost all the students in the small class lived past the age of 90; Kellogg lived to age 91, Miller to 971/2, and one classmate to 101. Miller graduated in 1902 and was married to a classmate-doctor, Maude Thompson, the same year. During an internship autopsy, Dr. Miller cut his finger badly and soon thereafter contracted systemic blastomycosis, an infection considered at the time to be fatal. With deep faith he prayed to God, promising that if he were to be healed, he would go anywhere in the Lord's service. To the astonishment of his doctors, Miller was miraculously healed. This greatly deepened his faith. Shortly thereafter a call came from the Adventist church for a missionary doctor in China. Miller accepted the challenge. For the rest of his life he prayed for his patients before all operations (minor and major). His prayers apparently brought many a patient through critical illness and sometimes saved them from almost certain death (Moore 1961).
Early Years in China (1903-11). In October 1903 Dr. Miller and Maude, together with another physician couple, sailed for China, stopping briefly in Japan. In Kobe, a fellow Adventist, Myrtle Lockwood, first introduced Miller to soyfoods at her home, serving an entree called Tofu Loaf, with which Miller was particularly impressed. In China the couple went deep into the interior, near the center of Henan (Honan) Province, where they found great poverty and malnutrition. They both learned Chinese, dressed like the local people, and even adopted the hair style of a long queue and shaved pate. They also ate Chinese foods, and soon Miller was visiting local tofu shops, learning about and sampling tofu, yuba, curds, soymilk, and the like. He found that tofu was much more widely consumed than soymilk, although the latter was quite widely used as a spicy hot breakfast soup and a warm, sweetened beverage. Dr. Miller later said (1962) that many Chinese and other East Asians told him that they did not drink much soymilk since they believed it caused them intestinal disturbances, which tofu did not. Perhaps this was why soymilk was not generally fed to infants and children.
In 1905 Dr. Miller's beloved wife died suddenly of an unknown disease. He was 26. Out of his deep sadness grew an even deeper commitment to help the impoverished and suffering millions of China. Two years later, after a brief return to America, where he married Marie Iverson, Miller returned to Shanghai. Two daughters were born in 1908 and 1910. Then Dr. Miller contracted a severe unknown disease and was forced to return to America in 1911.
In Washington D.C (1912-25). Dr. Miller eventually managed to heal himself of what he later learned was a vitamin deficiency disease called sprue. While recovering he taught the Bible at Mt. Vernon Academy, his former alma mater, and in 1912 his first son, Harry Willis, Jr., was born. Soon he was called to the position of medical superintendent and surgeon of the Adventist-run Washington Sanitarium and Hospital, which he developed into a mecca for congressional leaders of the day. He became consulting physician to three US presidents. In Washington he pioneered new techniques of thyroid goiter surgery, which lowered fatalities from 50% to about 1%. He eventually performed over 6,000 goiter surgeries around the world. In Washington he also met William Morse and Dr. J.A. LeClerc, both soy pioneers from the USDA. He later wrote that these men filled him with "inspiration, enthusiasm, and information," and both later made frequent visits to Miller's soymilk plant in Ohio. In 1915 a fourth child, Clarence, was born.
Prior to 1917 the Sanitarium had used a lot of dairy products on its vegetarian menus, but in that year with World War I underway, all milk supplies from the local dairy were requisitioned by the Walter Reed Military Hospital. The sanitarium bought its own herd, but the problems that Miller found with contamination, animal disease (tuberculosis), allergies, and the like, convinced him of the need to develop a good alternative to cow's milk. Dr. Miller's son Willis recalls that in 1921, he and his father ran their first experiments with soymilk and tofu on their farm near the Washington Sanitarium. At that time the Sanitarium had a small food plant, where foods such as Protose and Nuttose were prepared for the patients' lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. The tofu was taken to that plant, mixed with peanuts, and further processed. Willis recalls that, starting in 1923, the Sanitarium started to use soy in foods, mostly in the form of soy flour, which they added to their meat analogs. Dr. Miller later wrote that in 1925 he began a few basic soymilk experiments in the Sanitarium's small food plant. (or was it in Shanghai??)
Pioneering Soymilk in China (1925-39). In 1925 Dr. Miller accepted the church's invitation to return to Shanghai to develop a network of Adventist health care facilities. The first of these was the Shanghai Sanitarium and Hospital, which opened 1 January 1928, with Dr. Miller as medical director. Because of his training with Dr. Kellogg and his specialty, goiter surgery, Dr. Miller had long been interested in nutrition. Now his interest deepened as he became increasingly aware of the high infant mortality rate in China caused by malnutrition. Thus in 1926 he again turned his attention to soymilk, working on it steadily in his spare time at a small food plant located behind the hospital building. A growing number of orphaned infants began to appear at the hospital. Their only hope of finding food was to find a wet nurse or to be fed cow's milk, which was very expensive in China and which not all infants tolerated well. Miller was determined to develop a soymilk that had good flavor and digestibility, could be formulated to nutritional equivalency to mother's milk, was low in cost, and had a good storage life. Preparing his soymilk at the small soy plant in the typical Chinese way, with cold extraction of the soymilk from the slurry, followed by cooking, he began to study ways to remove the beany flavor and make the soymilk more digestible. On his medical travels in other parts of China, and in Korea and Japan, he visited tofu shops and studied their methods. He believed that the beany flavor resulted from natural oils in the soybean; perhaps if the soymilk were spray dried and then reformulated with fresh soy oil, he thought, the flavor would improve. In the early 1930s, returning to America on furlough, he purchased the necessary equipment for a small soy dairy and had it shipped to China: a motorized stone mill, an American extractor, and a small homogenizer. Soon he was making improved formulated soymilk for the babies, patients, and staff at the Shanghai Sanitarium. The Chinese, too, liked the flavor. Some friends cajoled that it was "undignified for a talented surgeon to be always playing around with beans." Miller was undaunted, yet the beany flavor persisted. One day, in the mid-1930s, the breakthrough came as he was standing in the kitchen of the compound working with slurry from a tofu maker. He later wrote: "I heard a divine voice behind me that said `Why don't you cook it longer with live steam?'" He was not aware of anyone ever having done that before (Blix 1980). Soon the staff and patients noticed the improved flavor and digestibility, and he added some soy oil or peanut oil during homogenization to make it even better. With new enthusiasm he began more baby feeding experiments. Soymilk was added to what was called the sanitarium's "Universal Diet," which also included whole-wheat bread and half polished rice, plus other soyfoods. During a trip to the Philippines at this time he learned from refiners of coconut oil that steam distillation and flash pasteurization improved the flavor of foods containing fats by driving off volatile oils and gases.
The new product was so promising that Miller began to move forward on three fronts: controlled feeding studies on infants, establishment of a
commercial soy dairy, and application for a US patent. In 1932 Dr. Miller had established the Vetose Nutritional Laboratory for furtherance of his research. For two years (1936-37) he fed formulated soymilk to several hundred young children (mostly infants) at the Shanghai Clinic, running control tests with fresh cow's milk and various types of American and European prepared baby foods. The study turned out well and the results were published by Miller and Wen in the April 1936 issue of the prestigious Chinese Medical Journal, an English-language publication read widely in the US and China. Here it was officially noted that babies could be nourished from birth fully as well with soymilk as with animal milks. This led to increased interest in the product. Dr. Miller later wrote (Ref??):
In later years follow-up infant feeding studies were done by other researchers using Dr. Miller's soymilk at the indigent hospital in the Philippines, at Tokyo University, and at Ohio State University at the Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
In January 1936 Dr. Miller and his oldest son, Willis (who did much of the plant design and equipment construction, and was the production manager), opened a full-scale soy dairy, the first of its kind in the world on Pingliang Road in Shanghai, not far from the Shanghai clinic. The milk was cooked with live steam in open-top kettles. Soon a fresh liquid beverage, called Vetose Soya Milk, was available in natural, chocolate, and acidophilus flavors, in half-pint and quart bottles. The tangy acidophilus soymilk, cultured, bottled (but not sterilized) and delivered chilled, was a real favorite. Ice cream was sold to institutions and meat analogs were under development. Production skyrocketed, doubling each month. Eventually the entire city of Shanghai had a soymilk route with thousands of families receiving door-to-door deliveries (by three-wheel pedicycle with carts behind them) of 3000 quarts and 4000 half-pints a day. The commercial product sold for less than dairy milks and cost less than one-fourth as much to produce. The soymilk proved so successful that it was soon included in rations for the Chinese army. A system for making dehydrated soymilk was also set up using a locally made Grey Jensen spray dryer; the government planned to use the dehydrated soymilk in light-weight rations. In the mid-1930s Dr. Miller had done experiments making spray-dried soymilk with LeClerc at the USDA. By 1936 he had sent samples of spray-dried soymilk to the Washington Sanitarium and to Dr. J.H. Kellogg. But the Japanese were now invading China and on 13 August 1937, just 8 months after the plant opened, it was totally destroyed by Japanese crossfire and bombs. (At the same time another soy dairy was being run for refugees in Dr. Fu's Children's Hospital in Shanghai by Julean Arnold of California and Nellie Lee, a Chinese, both of the China Nutritional Aid Council. Arnold was also American Commercial Attache in China. This group provided their soymilk for 25,000 to 37,000 refugee children a day and distributed millions of biscuits containing 40% okara from their soy dairy.) The Japanese occupied Shanghai in November 1937, and soon thereafter the Shanghai Sanitarium was closed, to become a refugee center. The political situation forced Dr. Miller to leave Shanghai.
On May 4, 1937, while his Shanghai soy dairy was still in full swing, Dr. Miller was awarded US Patent No. 2,078,962 for his soymilk process. He introduced methods for eliminating beany flavor, and for the use of a centrifuge and a homogenizer. In the patent he referred to his product as "vegetable milk." Miller's patented process was as follows: Soak 1 part by weight of soybeans in 8 parts of water at 60-75░F for 6-10 hours. Grind well in a burr mill, adding a little water while grinding, to produce a mixture of 20 gallons water and 25 pounds ground beans. Extract the soymilk through a fine cloth in a centrifuge at 2,500 RPM in either of two ways: (1) before heating; or (2) after bringing to a boil, stirring constantly, in a caldron and simmering briefly. Now to the simmering soymilk add 7 pounds each of grain sugar (dextrose, maltose) and oil, plus 3 ounces of salt. Return to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, for 30-60 minutes, or until the flavor changes from "beany" to "nutty." (Note that no mention is made of live steam cooking.) Homogenize in a colloid mill or homogenizer to give a milk containing 3.5 to 4% protein and 5% fat. Cool, bottle, and refrigerate, or dehydrate.
From late 1937, Dr. Miller was in the big city of Wuhan (formerly called Hangkow) in Hubei province establishing the Wuhan Sanitarium Hospital, where he also had a small soy dairy. Eventually over 15,000 Chinese refugees, escaping the Japanese troops in the north, filled the hospital compound. Finally in January 1939, as the war got too hot, Dr. Miller left China. He returned to America in April of that year.
Introducing Soyfoods to America (1939 to 49). Undaunted, Dr. Miller returned to the US, convinced that soymilk was destined for worldwide acceptance. He decided to settle in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where he had formerly gone to school and later taught. Dr. Miller's oldest son, Willis, had returned from Shanghai after the plant there had been destroyed and in 1938 started his own business, Miller's Soy Foods, in Utica, New York. Later that year he moved it to Washington, D.C., and was successfully making and marketing canned soymilk, tofu used in a tofu-pimiento spread, okara spreads, and gluten cutlets. When Dr. Miller returned to the US he suggested that he and his son go into business together; Willis liked the idea. Working with his son, Dr. Miller set up a company called the International Nutrition Foundation and then began searching for a suitable site in Mt. Vernon for their new soy dairy. Soon they found a 140-acre farm, containing a number of fine springs, located several miles outside of town . . . and for the remarkably low price of $7,000. Dr. Miller borrowed money from his brother Clarence to purchase this farm, then moved into the one large house on the property. Willis moved his soyfoods equipment from Washington into a garage near the house and got the plant running while the new buildings were being built. In April 1939 Clarence, Miller's second son, left his job in Washington, D.C. and went to Mt. Vernon to help with the work; he later became accountant and treasurer of the soy business. To help raise money for the soymilk operation, Dr. Miller set up a private part-time medical practice, with an office in one wing of the local hospital. Although he had very little money, Dr. Miller made plans for a 60-by-130 foot building, which he planned to enlarge later by adding a second story. A local high school had been recently torn down and he obtained all the bricks free of charge by offering to haul them away. So each evening after his medical work was done, Dr. Miller and his sons trucked the bricks over to their land, cleaned them, and built the new soy dairy building. The surgeon's skilled hands were not too delicate for the rough work. The original building still stands strong; today it houses the offices, lab, and pilot plant where Loma Linda still makes Soyalac.
The new plant was completed in the fall of 1939 and the first products, canned soymilk (made in a pressure cooker and fortified with vitamins and minerals) and malted soymilk (Soy-A-Malt) were available late that year. Pressure from the powerful US dairy industry and the USDA convinced Miller not to call his product "soymilk, " so he latinized the name to Soya Lac. This term was first used in late 1939 for Miller's first American soymilk; the spelling had been changed to the present one-word Soyalac by September 1941. Powdered Soya Lac was first produced in 1940.
But contrary to Miller's expectations, the American public was simply not ready for soymilk; acceptance was painfully slow. He decided that, in order for his business to survive, he would have to develop new products, try to get his soymilk approved by the American Medical Association, and, in the meantime, sell his soymilk and related soyfoods to ready markets in East Asia.
With his typical boundless energy, Dr. Miller, now age 61, started by setting up a plant near the soy dairy to can fresh green soybeans of the tasty, large-seeded or vegetable type, which were grown on his farm. Partially because of the mushrooming growth of interest in soyfoods during World War II (due in part to the rationing and high prices of meat, milk, eggs, and cheese), these found a ready market and became his most profitable product. By 1943 some 40,000 cases a year were being sold at supermarkets and health food stores around the Midwest. The company's best selling product (which was not as profitable due to the high production costs) was Miller's Vegetarian Cutlets, a canned gluten entree. He began to develop other meat analogs similar to those developed initially by Kellogg at Battle Creek. In about 1940 he perfected his acidophilus soymilk but sold it only to the local Mt. Vernon hospital since he did not want to kill the culture by sterilization required for long distance distribution. (In 1934, Kellogg had patented a similar acidophilus soymilk.) He made tofu from his basic soymilk and did extensive experiments, working with Ohio State University, in making a fermented tofu cheese; tofu was pressed as hard as possible, inoculated with Cheddar microorganisms, then allowed to ripen. The product was fairly good but often excess moisture in the tofu led to the growth of unfriendly bacteria. Next came a soymilk ice cream. Dr. Miller put all of his medical income into the soyfoods business and by 1940 the company was producing an innovative line of vegetarian soyfoods and meat substitutes, sold nationwide mostly at health food stores. A pamphlet of that year lists the following ten products, all sold under the brand name "Miller's": Soya Lac, a liquid soymilk in natural and chocolate flavors sold in 13-ounce and 30-ounce cans. Soy-A-Malt, spray dried malted soymilk in natural and chocolate flavors in 1-pound cans. Soya Sauce, produced in south China. Soya Curd, made by coagulating Soya Lac with lactic acid to make curds, then blending this with tomato puree, pimiento, and soy sauce. Soya Loaf, made from a seasoned mixture of okara (soy pulp) and gluten. Soya Spread, for sandwiches, also made from okara and sold in 16-ounce jars. Whole Soya Bean Flour, a naturally alkaline full-fat soy flour. Green Soya Beans, canned vegetable type. Giant Soya Beans, cooked and canned mature, vegetable-type soybeans. And Soya Beans with Tomato Sauce, edible soybeans canned with tomato puree and malt. Products added a few years later included Vegetable Chili Con Carne and Vegetable Chop Suey, both sold in 16-ounce jars with wheat gluten used in place of meat. In 1943 Kellogg's Battle Creek Food Company had a similar line of soyfoods: Soy Protose (a meat analog), Soy Gluten Wafers, canned Green Soybeans, Whole Soy Flour, Soykee (soy coffee), and Soy Acidophilus. A few years later, Dr. Miller developed Veja Links, the world's first meatless wiener, made of seasoned okara and wheat gluten packed in a sausage casing, and Veja Chee, a cheese analog made of curded soymilk. In 1944 he sold soy bread. In 1949 he was running ads for Soy Cheese, Sandwich Spread, and gluten-based Cutletburger in regular and Smokene flavors. Smokene apparently came from T.A. Van Gundy (see Part 4).
During the years that he was developing new products. Dr. Miller made countless trips to the American Medical Association trying to convince them that the research he had done in China proved that his Soyalac was an acceptable substitute for dairy milk in feeding both infants and adults. But the AMA, apparently strongly influenced by the US dairy industry, refused to grant any recognition to the product. Finally, after one fruitless trip, a member of the board took Dr. Miller aside and explained frankly that he would never get endorsement for his product unless he started to market his product specifically for that 7% of US infants who are allergic to cow's milk, and avoided unfriendly comparisons with cow's milk. Dr. Miller was not too pleased, since he had hoped that soymilk would gradually replace cow's milk in the American diet. He felt that soymilk made much more efficient use of the world's land to feed people, and that it was a lower cost, more healthful product of comparable nutritional value. Yet he reluctantly accepted the AMA's advice. There followed extensive experiments by leading child specialists on large groups of babies over a long period of time in America, Japan, the Philippines, and China. Finally by July 1951 Soyalac was accepted as a hypoallergenic infant food by the AMA's Council on Foods. Soyalac then began to be prescribed by physicians for allergic infants and soon started to sell quite well.
From 1939 to 1941 most of Miller's powdered soymilk and some of his other soyfoods were sold in the Philippines and China. However, World War II cut off his business, so he began to promote his soymilk more vigorously in the US, not only as an allergy-free infant formula that would not clog the nipple, but as a healthful beverage that alkalized the bloodstream and was good for diabetics, postoperative patients, ulcer and colitis patients, and those with atherosclerosis.
Before World War II started, Dr. Miller had set up a branch of his International Nutrition Laboratory and a soymilk plant in the Philippines at 41 Nagtahan in Manila. It was run by Paul Sycip (pronounced SIS-up), a private Chinese Christian (but not Adventist) businessman and chemist, who had come briefly to Mt. Vernon in the summer of 1941 to learn Miller's process and buy equipment. Miller was in the Philippines helping to set up the plant when the Japanese attacked. During the war the Japanese stole all of the soymilk equipment but did not harm the building. In 1948 Mr. Sinclair Pinnick, a foreman at the Mt. Vernon plant since 1944, went to the Philippines, took new equipment, and got the plant reestablished. It produced regular soymilk, the first ever in the Philippines.
The expanding success of Soyalac encouraged the growth of competing products, but Dr. Miller didn't mind. A true evangelist, he was happy to see the message finally reaching the people.
To fully appreciate Dr. Miller's great energy and diverse talents, we should note that during the early 1940s, as he developed, produced, and marketed his line of innovative new soyfoods, he also maintained an active medical practice, partially because the other two doctors at the hospital where he worked were called for military duty, and partially to support his work. Prior to World War II he would fly to the Philippines about once a year, do 12-15 thyroid surgeries a day for 2-3 weeks, give half of his income to the hospital there, then return to America with the balance. In 1942 he and his brother bought the local hospital in Mt. Vernon where he worked; his son Clarence came in to manage, renovate, and expand it. Miller was the only surgeon in Knox County (population 35,000).
At his Mt. Vernon soy dairy, Miller was always the first one to start the day's work. One day, while experimenting with a new formula, he cut off the end of his finger in a food grinder. He calmly picked up the severed part, walked into his office, and sewed it back on.
During the years he spent introducing soyfoods to America, Dr. Miller was one of the most active supporters of the American Soybean Association, a regular speaker at conventions and contributor of articles to the Soybean Digest. His first speech was "The Role of the Soybean in Human Nutrition" (1940) and his first article "Soybeans and the Orient" (1943) was followed by "Feeding the World with Soya" (1946), "A Survey of Soy Foods in East Asia" (1948) and others listed in our Bibliography. In September 1958 he was made an honorary member of the Association and awarded a gold medal.
By the late 1930s the seeds that Dr. Miller had planted in East Asia began to sprout. It is interesting to note that most of the remarkable expansion of interest in and production of soymilk that has taken place throughout Asia during the last half of the twentieth century can trace its origins directly back to the work of Dr. Miller.
While Dr. Miller was in Shanghai, an Adventist named Howard Hoover had come and learned the soymilk process, then started his own soy dairy and health food plant in a mission school in Canton in about 1938. This was the first commercial offshoot of Dr. Miller's work.
In 1937 Mr. K.S. Lo of Hong Kong had been in Shanghai, where he attended a talk given by Julean Arnold entitled "Soybeans: The Cow of China." (Check??) Arnold, an American, had learned how to make soymilk from Dr. Miller and, as described above, was producing soymilk for refugees in a hospital in Shanghai in 1937. Lo returned to Hong Kong and in 1938 initiated the production of soymilk in refugee camps there. In 1940 Lo established the predecessor of the Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Co. Ltd., which went on to make Vitasoy, long the world's best-selling and best-known soymilk (Lo 1964), as described in Chapter 76. Thereafter, many other large soymilk plants started in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
In 1948 the Chinese Quartermaster Department, with the help of Dr. Miller's son, Willis, set up the largest soymilk plant in the world in Shanghai, using a process patterned after that used at Miller's plant in Ohio, to make spray-dried soymilk. Costing over $1,0000,000, it had a capacity of 5 tons of dried soymilk every 12 hours. The dried soymilk would be mixed with puffed rice, pressed into wafers, and packed into cans, then opened in the field and soaked with hot water for rations. In early 1949, shortly before the plant was completed and ready for operation, Dr. Miller (now age 70) accepted the invitation of the Adventist church to take over direction of the Shanghai Sanitarium and reestablish a soy dairy there. China was in the throes of revolutionary war and Shanghai was still held by the Nationalist forces. A daring pilot dropped Miller at the besieged Shanghai airport, hardly pausing to stop. Dr. Miller was able to attend the dedication ceremony for Willis' big soymilk plant. But Shanghai fell to the Communists in May 1949; Miller was soon evacuated, and returned to America.
Research and Work Around the World (1950-77). In 1950 Dr. Miller's second wife died. Shortly thereafter he decided to sell his Mt. Vernon business. There was the increasing pressure of running a food plant and although sales were good ($1.25 million gross in 1950) profits were only $120,000 due to high taxes. He wanted to devote more of his time to research and medicine. Although offered a large sum of money by a private company outside the Adventist denomination, he decided to divide the company into two parts, the meat analogs and the soymilk plus related products, and sell these to Adventist-run firms. In June 1950 he sold the meat-analog part of his business (gluten meats, nut loaves, frankfurters, etc.) to Worthington Foods in Worthington, Ohio, a private company owned by Adventist laymen that had been making meat analogs since 1939. They bought the patents, recipes and formulas, equipment, technology, and good will that went with Miller's meat analog business. Most of these analogs contained no soy. Worthington kept the brand name "Miller's" for several years thereafter as they sold Miller's Cutlets, Miller's Burger, Miller's Stew, Vege-Links, and the like. Willis Miller worked with Worthington for some time after the sale.
In early 1951, Dr. Miller sold the rest of his business at a very low price (book value) to Loma Linda Foods of Riverside, California. This sale included the Mt. Vernon land, buildings, equipment, technology, and recipes and formulas for soymilk, canned fresh green soybeans, Vege-Chee (a canned tofu cottage cheese), and related products. All these products continued to be produced in Ohio. Loma Linda Foods, an integral part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was founded in 1906 and had run a plant in Riverside making meat analogs, soymilk, and other foods since 1936. Dr. Miller had always believed that the process for making soymilk was not something that he had originated; the key to it had been a gift to him from a higher power. Thus, he felt it was simply not his to sell. So he gave the process to the Adventist church but sold the rest of the business to Loma Linda Foods (they operate the Mt. Vernon plant to this day), and loaned them the money to buy it. They paid him in installments and he returned half of the money to them so that they could set up laboratories and a pilot plant in their headquarters at 11503 Pierce Boulevard in Riverside (the town was then called Arlington). There he established the International Nutrition Research Foundation (when??), which he further endowed heavily with his own funds; 95% of its future research was on soyfoods. He bought a home nearby. For the three years following his wife's death he worked intensively on soyfoods research. In 1951 Loma Linda first introduced Soyagen, a lightly fortified soymilk for adults to match their Soyalac for babies. Miller did extensive work on further eliminating the beany flavor from soymilk using a vacuum pan and flash pasteurization. By 1958 his labs had developed new and improved soymilks, soy cream, improved acidophilus soymilk and ice cream, cottage cheese, a soy-cream cheese spread, cholesterol-free cheese, and a nondairy margarine.
In 1953, at the age of 74, he married for a third time (his wife was about 35). Shortly thereafter he was asked to establish an Adventist Sanitarium in Taipei, Taiwan. With it, of course, he started a soy dairy at a school, which supplied the school, sanitarium, and surrounding community with soymilk each day. In 1956, when it came time for Miller to leave Taiwan, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek personally gave him China's highest award, the Blue Star of China, in appreciation for his tireless service to the people of China in saving the lives of thousands of infants with the use of soymilk and in establishing some 12 sanitarium-hospital clinics. At the time, the Generalissimo, who had been a former patient of Miller's, recalled how he had become so fond of the sanitarium's soymilk that he had once sent his private plane over 1,000 miles to Shanghai to replenish his supply.
In 1954 the World Health Organization became interested in Miller's work with soymilk. His oldest son, Willis Miller, supervised the construction of a Joint FAO/UNICEF soymilk plant in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia. It opened in 1957 and produced about 2 tons a day of a spray-dried soymilk called Saridele.
After filling in for other surgeons in Trinidad and Libya from 1956 to 1957, Dr. Miller went to Japan in 1958 to spend 7 months as medical director and surgeon at the Tokyo Sanitarium-Hospital. He was now 79. Despite his busy medical routine, he found time to set up a small soymilk pilot plant in the hospital kitchen where they made soymilk, soy whipping cream, soy ice cream, and soy spread, which were served to the staff and patients. In cooperation with the Japanese Ministry of Health, he then developed the concept of helping existing small tofu producers to set up a soymilk operation right in their shops by adding on a boiler, pressure cooker, homogenizer, cooler, and bottler. The equipment could be installed for less than $2,000 and would enable each plant to produce 150 pounds of tofu and 200 gallons of soymilk a day using three trained workers. Miller personally helped at least once small rural tofu shop set up such a system; their soymilk was sold fresh, hot or cold, and bottled for half the price of fresh dairy milk. (Was this Japan's first commercial soy dairy?? See Watanabe.)
During this stay, Dr. Miller also helped to set up the Adventist-run Saniku Foods soymilk plant in connection with the Saniku Gakuin (Japan Union College) as described in Part 7 of this chapter. This became Japan's first major soymilk manufacturer; today it is one of the largest soymilk plants in Japan. Prior to 1960, a similar soymilk plant was set up at the Adventist-run Mountain View College in Central Mindanao, Philippines. The college farm raised edible soybeans and the 700 students were served fresh soymilk each morning for breakfast and fresh tofu for lunch. (see soymilk chapter??)
In 1960 Dr. Miller again accepted the invitation of the Adventist church to start a new hospital, this time in Hong Kong. As always, it was accompanied by a little soymilk plant. By 1960 soy dairies had also been established in Hong Kong at the South China Union College and at an Adventist-run college in Bandung, Indonesia.
Dr. Miller spent most of his time from 1960 to 1973 in East Asia. He practiced surgery until the age of 93. In 1961 his biography China Doctor by Raymond S. Moore was published by Harper & Bros. In 1963 Dorothea Van Gundy Jones in The Soybean Cookbook wrote: "Certainly Dr. Miller has done more than any other person to introduce soybeans and soybean products, especially the milk, to the population of this country." In 1973 Dr. Miller formally retired from medical practice and returned to California, where he spent the last few years of his life doing the work he loved so much: soyfoods research. He lived about one mile from Loma Linda Foods in Riverside, and he walked to work each morning. He continued his experiments with tofu and soymilk, making improved acidophilus soymilk, tofu-based cheeses, and cheese spreads. He made a good tofu-based Cheddar cheese but could not make it melt. His later years were not as productive as they might have been since, in old age, he had lost most of his sense of smell; when he would ask others how new products tasted, they would often tend to flatter him instead of giving an honest and object response. Yet this work was still of real potential value.
In 1972 the Southern Asia Division of the Adventist church asked Mr. Pinnick from Mt. Vernon to go to India to set up a soymilk plant at their Spicer Memorial College in Poona. In March 1973 Dr. Miller flew over from Hong Kong to help the operation get started. Pinnick wrote in 1981: "He would work all day with us at the plant (at age 94) then spend nearly every evening speaking to some group on healthful living. There seemed to be no limit to his endurance."
In 1975 William Shurtleff in Japan wrote Dr. Miller in California, beginning a long exchange of letters on subjects related to soyfoods. Dr. Miller typed each letter himself and was always full of questions about new developments in tofu and soymilk production in Japan. In 1976 he sponsored and hosted a program on tofu and soymilk that William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi presented to several hundred members of the faculty and community of Loma Linda University, La Sierra Campus. During the day of their visit, he took them through his pilot plant and described his latest experiments making tofu-based fermented cheese spreads. He seemed extremely alert and well informed.
Dr. Miller died on new Year's day, 1977, at the age of 97, just as he was getting ready to go to his beloved church.
Harry Miller was a shining example of what the Chinese call "The Great Man." He dedicated his life to the welfare of all beings, human and nonhuman. He chose a life of voluntary simplicity, finding his real joy in giving. Close associates estimate that, in professional fees alone, he turned over some $2.5 million to the hospitals, church, and nutritional work with which he was connected. Spiritual values were at the center of his life. Though world famous, he was the most humble of men; though very busy, he had time for each person who needed him. His vision was fifty years ahead of his time. He left an indelible impression on the world. Would that he could be here with us now to see the blossoming of his work in America and around the globe.