|The Soyfoods Movement
A Special Exhibit - The History of Soy Pioneers Around the World - Unpublished Manuscript
by William Shurtleff and Akiko
Starting in the early 1960s a new
consciousness, lifestyle, and culture began to take root in America,
especially among the younger generation. Out of this basic ground grew a
strong interest in traditional, natural foods and in their production.
Among these were soyfoods. By the late 1970s soyfoods had become an
integral part of, in some cases almost a symbol of, the new American
cultural renaissance. Their image was gradually transformed from being
foreign foods, meat and dairy substitutes, or cheap foods to be resorted
to only in times of hardship or scarcity. They began to be seen as foods
consciously chosen and enjoyed by that sector of the population which was
most aware, concerned with good health and the welfare of all beings, and,
in some cases, most affluent, or from an affluent family.
Reasons for Interest in Soyfoods. At least nine closely related basic trends or emerging new areas of interest set the stage for the rapid rise of interest in soyfoods:
Good Health, Nutrition, and Fitness. It was increasingly acknowledged that the standard American diet, containing an excess of meat, sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, and highly refined or chemicalized junk foods was beginning to take its toll on the nation's good health. By 1980 50% of all deaths in America were caused by heart disease and 25% by cancer. Diabetes and obesity, too, had reached epidemic proportions. Increasingly interested in good health and nutrition, Americans began to look for alternatives. The old adage of the American food industry that "stressing nutritive value does not sell food" began to change. There started a nationwide trend toward more acceptance of natural, healthful foods, and a realization that good diet is a key factor in building and maintaining good health, and in self-healing. Low in fats and calories and free of cholesterol, soyfoods were viewed as healthful and nutritious natural foods.
Weight Loss Diets. By the late 1970s, polls showed that 67% of Americans said they were trying to lose weight. A number of soyfoods were low in calories (tofu contains only 72 calories per 100 gm), much lower than their meat or dairy counterparts, and could also be used to make low-calorie preparations such as dressings and dips.
Low-cost protein. The 1970s and 1980s were decades of unprecedented peacetime inflation. The price of traditional protein sources, especially meats, increased faster than most other foods. Soyfoods came to be seen as a low cost, yet high quality and very versatile source of protein by those watching their food bills.
Meatless and Vegetarian Diets. According to various government and private studies, by the late 1970s there were 7.5-10 million vegetarians in America, and the number was rapidly increasing. Vegetarian diets were widely considered to promote better health, stamina, and longevity, to be lower in cost, more kind to animals, and more effective in making best use of the world's limited food resources. Nutritional research at top universities and institutes around the world (see Chapter 21) showed that the quality of soy protein foods for humans was much higher than it was formerly thought to have been based on early experiments with rats; it was comparable to the protein found in meat and milk. It was increasingly recognized that Americans, always concerned about getting enough protein, were actually getting 60-70% more than they needed or could use. There was a trend during the 1970s toward recommending moderate rather than high intakes of more healthful and moderately priced proteins. A growing number of physicians and nutritionists began to understand the beneficial health implications of a diet containing little or no meat, and to speak and write in its favor. Worldwide, it was increasingly realized that a gradual shift toward more use of vegetable proteins and less use of animal proteins would be an inevitable future trend, except among elites. Soyfoods came to be viewed as one of the most promising alternatives to meat and dairy products--just as they had been viewed in East Asia for several thousand years. Americans began to enjoy Tofu and Tempeh Burgers and Cutlets, Tempeh Sloppy Joe and Mock Chicken Salads, Soysage and TLTs (Tempeh, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches) . . . to their heart's delight.
World Hunger. Starting in the early 1970s, there was a strong awareness of the growing problem of world hunger. Due initially to the influence of Lappe's Diet for A Small Planet, millions of people realized that they could make an immediate, albeit small contribution to the problem by eating low on the food chain, consuming grains and soy directly rather than running them through livestock and then killing the animals, a process which converted protein abundance into scarcity. It was also increasingly realized that a given area of land planted to soybeans could produce much more usable protein at much lower cost than if planted in any other conventional farm crop, and 20 times as much protein as if the land were used to raise beef cattle or grow their fodder. Thus using soybeans became a symbol of individuals doing something about world hunger and supporting more efficient use of the world's farmland.
Appropriate Technology and Right Livelihood. The increasing mechanization of the American workplace had led increasingly to alienated labor. People began to look for work that was its own reward, and that spoke to important human needs. There was great interest in appropriate technology, technology on a human scale that was energy efficient, decentralized, and often locally produced and repairable. The production of soyfoods, often as a spiritual practice using traditional or middle-level technology, was found by many to fulfill these needs.
Voluntary Simplicity. Virtually every problem on the planet, from energy and resource depletion and pollution, to "growthmania" and the complexity of daily life outgrowing people's ability to manage it, pointed to the need for simpler life styles. During the 1960s and 1970s many young people returned to simpler lifestyles, with food patterns stressing self-sufficiency, back-to-basics, home preparation, use of primary foods (grains and beans rather than meat and dairy products), and lower food budgets. Soyfoods, easily produced at home, simple yet satisfying in flavor, filled this need nicely.
Ecology and Conservation. There was a growing interest in ecology ("the Mother of all the sciences") and in conservation of energy and natural resources. Pioneering studies by Dr. David Pimentel (1973, 1975, 1977) of Cornell University showed conclusively that much less total energy, fossil fuel energy, water, land, and labor is required to produce a pound of soy protein as compared with a pound of meat or other animal protein. Using soy protein directly would also take the pressure off intensive livestock-based cropping systems that led to soil erosion and heavy use of agri-chemicals. Soyfoods came to be seen as a key protein source in an ecologically sound diet.
Interest in East Asian Cultures, Spiritual Practices, and Cuisines. Starting in the early 1960s there was a steady growth of interest in East Asian cultures (especially those of Japan, China, India, and Tibet), spiritual practices (Buddhism including Japanese Zen and Tibetan Vajrayana, Hinduism, Taoism) and cuisines (especially Chinese and Japanese, with the Macrobiotic movement stimulating a major interest in the latter). Soyfoods, most of which originated in East Asia, shared this interest. Buddhists, with their basically meatless diets, have played a key role since ancient times in the spread of soyfoods throughout East Asia. Surprisingly the same was true in America. Shurtleff and Aoyagi practiced Zen meditation for many years in the US and Japan and dedicated The Book of Tofu to Zen master Suzuki roshi. Richard Leviton, a founder of the New England Soy Dairy, director of the Soyfoods Association, and editor of Soyfoods magazine, was a practicing Zen student. Members of the Zen Center of Rochester started a major tofu shop (Northern Soy) and soy deli (Lotus Cafe). Jemez Bodhi Mandala in New Mexico ran a small tofu shop. Followers of the Indian Guru Maraji (sp??) started 5 or 6 "Swan" soyfood producing companies (which??). Steve Demos, founder of White Wave, was a practicing Buddhist since 1971. Likewise people practicing Indian spiritual paths (Kirpalu Yoga Center, Benjamin Hills, and others) played important roles in bringing soyfoods to America.
The combination of all these closely interrelated factors served to give soyfoods the image of a key protein source for the future, a practical alternative for which millions had been searching.
Allied Movements. In addition to the general trends favoring introduction of soyfoods, there were a number of specific movements which played major roles in supporting the soyfoods movement.
Macrobiotics. The international macrobiotic movement, started by a widely-traveled Japanese couple, George and Lima Ohsawa, played a major role in introducing soyfoods to America and Europe, starting in the early 1960s. A detailed history of the work of the macrobiotic movement with soyfoods is given in Chapter 67.
Natural Foods. Starting in the late 1960s, small stores selling traditional natural foods began to open throughout America, as an alternative to the increasingly highly processed, refined, and chemicalized foods sold at supermarkets. Natural food stores differed sharply in philosophy from health food stores, which tended to concentrate on vitamins and expensive modern supplements. Natural food stores were highly interested in soyfoods (health food stores were often not), and they provided a ready outlet for the tofu, tempeh, etc. made by small local producers. Whole Foods, the first trade journal of the natural foods industry, ran many articles on soyfoods. From total sales of about $300 million in 1971, sales of natural foods in 1980 approached $2.5 billion, an increase of more than 800% in just ?? years. This included roughly $2 billion through 8,000 natural food stores nationwide and $500,000 through supermarkets, which had started large natural food sections within the supermarkets in the late 1970s. The $2.5 billion natural foods market was comprised of an estimated 18 million people of high educational level and nutritional awareness (when??). Although it represented only 1% of total US food sales of $250 billion in 1980, it was considered significant as a "market trendsetter" by the larger food industry. A high percentage of these people used or were aware of soyfoods (Natural Foods Merchandiser 1981). Interest in natural foods among Americans was much wider than the above figures might suggest. A 1981 survey by the Food Marketing Institute (Ref??) found that 68% of all consumers regarded natural foods as superior to commercial products and 34% actively searched for natural food items.
Organic Gardening/Prevention. Rodale Press had been interested in soybeans and soyfoods since the 1950s. Interest in soyfoods grew strongly after the mid-1970s. In 1977 they published four articles on tempeh in Organic Gardening and Prevention magazines, which reached more than 3 million readers (see Chapter 35). Thereafter major articles appeared on tofu, the possible cancer-preventing properties of soybeans, fresh green soybeans and the like. Rodale Press published their first soyfoods book, The Tofu Cookbook by Bauer and Andersen, in 1979. In 1978 research on soy sprouts began. The OGF Research Center developed small seeded soybeans for sprouting that had high viability and good flavor. The test kitchen developed recipes; two booklets on soy sprouts were published in 1980. Also in 1980 the Rodale Test Kitchen, under the supervision of Linda Gilbert, began extensive research on soyfoods. This work led to material for articles and, in 1981, Home Soyfood Equipment, a book with plans for tofu and tempeh equipment, plus recipes. Future books are reported to be in progress. Rodale also gave vital advertising support to Soyfoods magazine.
Vegetarianism. The general interest in meatless diets mentioned above grew out of a coalition of movements related to this subject. The movement gained great momentum in 1971 with the publication of Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet, which sold over 2 million copies during the next 10 years. Demolishing the myth of the superiority of meat and other animal protein sources; it showed a simple yet revolutionary way of obtaining plenty of high-quality protein at lower cost by eating mankind's traditional diet based on combinations of grains and legumes--such as soyfoods. By 1981 there were a number of nationwide magazines and scores of cookbooks that advocated meatless and vegetarian diets, and virtually all of them came out firmly in support of soyfoods. Vegetarian Times, with a circulation in 1981 of 60,000 ran a great many articles on soyfoods. Hundreds of vegetarian restaurants started up nationwide, and most served at least several soyfood dishes. The kosher market, consisting of approximately 750,000 people who did not eat or cook meat with milk, found that kosher/pareve soyfoods, used as meat or dairy replacements, could greatly expand the variety of this diet. The animal rights movement, which began in the late 1970s to point out the cruel and mechanical way that animals were raised and slaughtered in "animal factories," joined with individuals who, feeling a sense of reverence for life, did not wish to kill animals to eat them; both bolstered the interest in meatless diets and hence in soyfoods.
Characteristics of the Soyfoods Movement. The early history of the soyfoods movement in America is, fundamentally, the history of a small group of dedicated people who were willing to take great risks to achieve something they believed in. Many of these pioneers went from university radicalism and psychedelics in the 1960s and 1970s, to "dropping out" of society, and then to a simpler alternative lifestyle based on more self sufficiency, natural foods and vegetarian diets, and spiritual practice. Many saw soyfoods as a vehicle for dropping back into society on their own terms as food activists with new organizing principles, then beginning to influence the society. Starting in 1976 a growing number of these people started small companies producing soyfoods, especially tofu. Many initially had a strong sense of craftsmanship (they called themselves "soycrafters") and an accompanying sense of pride in the quality of their work and food. Most had little or no experience in food production or business, but competition and economic necessity began to change this by the late 1970s.
Prior to 1976 all of the traditional East Asian soyfoods made in America were produced by Oriental Americans, who were concerned with offering a quality product at reasonable prices to a predominantly Oriental market. Little did they guess in 1976 that their products would soon be widely sold in supermarkets and that sales would skyrocket, largely due to interest and publicity generated by the Caucasian soyfoods movement. The Oriental American producers generally operated individually, with no trade association or common purpose.
The first and foremost food of the soyfoods movement was tofu, but it was soon followed by tempeh, soymilk, miso, secondary soyfoods, natural shoyu (soy sauce), soynuts, soy sprouts, whole soy flour, yuba, and other less familiar products.
One way to understand the originality and uniqueness of the traditional soyfoods approach is to compare it with the approach of the soy protein industry, which produces isolates, concentrates, and textured soy protein products. There are several basic differences:
No Solvent Extraction. The entire soy protein industry is based on the soy oil/meal processing industry, which crushes soybeans and extracts the oil using hexane solvent. The soyfoods industry (except for the production of most US soy sauce) starts directly with whole soybeans. Some soycrafters disliked eating foods made from crushed soybeans that had been immersed in toxic hexane solvent, even if they were assured that virtually all of the solvent had been removed.
Soyfoods Enjoyed for Themselves. The soyfoods industry prepared and marketed soyfoods to be enjoyed as foods in their own right, rather than simply as functional ingredients or extenders to be used in other products, or as analogs. Soycrafters made foods, not products, and they enjoyed soyfoods in their daily meals and at their annual conferences. They ate what they preached. Deeply committed to expanding the role of soybeans as a food source in the American diet, many of the first generation of soycrafters were as evangelical as the first generation of American Soybean Association soybean farmers and researchers described in Chapter 55. The soyfoods movement soon realized that one key to introducing soyfoods to America was to present them in forms and recipes that were already part of the diet: hence, Tofu Burgers, Tempeh Sloppy Joe, Miso Corn-on-the-Cob. The fact that Americans have a dairy products tradition not found in most of East Asia served as a great source of inspiration and innovation, giving birth to a great array of non-traditional dairylike products. Japanese and Chinese were astonished to see soycrafters whipping up creamy tofu dressings or dips, tofu cheesecakes, or soymilk ice cream, yogurt, or shakes. The American fast food and delicatessen traditions also gave rise to many new products.
Many soycrafters, because of their strong interest in lightly-processed, natural foods, were critical of modern meat analogs, with their many artificial coloring and flavoring agents. They asked: "Why go to all the trouble and expense, using complex high technology, of hexane extracting, spinning or extruding, then artificially coloring and flavoring, the magic bean just to pretend you are eating meat, poultry, or fish, when soyfoods taste so much better, are more versatile, cost less, and are better for you in their traditional, natural forms?" Moreover, soyfoods such as tofu or tempeh can easily be made into burgers, cutlets, soysage, and the like.
Appropriate Technology. Most soycrafters were dedicated to using appropriate, middle-level technology to aid and enrich their work. Initially it was not their intent to develop machines to deprive them of their work and craft which they genuinely enjoyed. Many soyfoods companies were quite open and sharing with their information, especially with those who were not direct competitors. A number of companies (Surata Soyfoods, The Soy Plant, etc.) were run as worker-owned and managed cooperatives. As the industry and individual businesses grew, so did the nature and size of the technology that was appropriate. By the early 1980s some companies were using what might be called "simple high-tech" equipment, sophisticated, moderately expensive, yet understandable.
Relevance to the Third World. The great majority of soyfoods companies were started by individuals or friends on their own initiative, generally with limited funds and experience, and with no help or inspiration from the government or other funding organizations. Many soycrafters believe that this same approach, from the bottom up, could work in Third World countries as well, given that there are strong needs for jobs and for tasty sources of low-cost protein, that the necessary technology could easily be established in rural areas and villages, and that soyfoods have long been produced in small shops throughout East Asia. The need is for dedicated workers to teach the people about the foods and how to produce and serve them. Soycrafters who attended the International Soy Protein Conferences, sponsored by the American Soybean Association and the US soy protein industry, found that they largely tended to overlook the crucial problems of how soybeans could provide both employment and low-cost protein for poor and hungry village and urban people around the world. Soycrafters believed they had realistic and practical answers to these problems.
Soycrafters, in short, viewed their approach as a clear and relevant alternative to the high-technology soy protein industry, and many were convinced that, in the long run, their approach would prevail both in America and around the world. Soycrafters helped to formulate the outlines of a debate between centralized high technology and decentralized middle-level technology food processing--a debate also heating up in the fields of energy, health care, agriculture, and other key fields.
The Farm. Probably the first group representing the new consciousness to get involved with soyfoods was The Farm, a large spiritual community in Tennessee, whose teacher is Stephen Gaskin. Stephen's interest in soy can be traced back to the mid-1960s. According to Jerry Sealund, a close friend of Stephen's who ran an early natural food store in San Francisco named Far-Fetched Foods (founded in 1966 in the Haight Ashbury), in about 1964 or 1965 Stephen had a great and powerful psychedelic vision of the soybean, in which he saw it as a great provider for all humankind, playing an increasingly important role of feeding people in the years ahead. That may have been the beginning of Stephen's interest in soy. Apparently a deep and strong connection was created. In early 1966 Stephen, then a teacher of ?? at San Francisco State University, began to hold Monday Night Class as part of the Experimental College. Eventually up to 1,500 people would attend each class. By the late 1960s Stephen had become a vegetarian and occasionally at the classes he would talk about the importance of a vegetarian diet as part of a peaceful lifestyle, noting that if people had to kill the animals they ate, there wold be a lot more vegetarians. A strong community began to evolve out of the classes; many of these people moved toward vegetarian diets. Increasingly the group was aware that soybeans were a good, inexpensive source of protein with great future potential, but except for The Soybean Cookbook by Jones there was a real lack of information and recipes.
In early October of 1970, Stephen and about 200 members of the community set out in 50 school buses on The Caravan, a nationwide 4-month speaking tour that continued until early February, 1971. On the trip, Stephen spoke and answered questions about spiritual awakening and practice, love, peace, truth, god, paying attention, caring for the planet, changing from a material to a spiritual life, and dietary reform. He had become a total vegetarian, using no milk or egg products. He mentioned that the community used a lot of soy; foods used included canned soymilks and meat analogs, Fearn packaged soy products, and some soybeans. By December the community had decided to buy a farm and, after returning to San Francisco, they left for Tennessee on 10 February 1971 to look for land. They arrived in Nashville in March, moved to Louis County in May, and finally on September 3, bought and moved onto a 1700-acre farm at 156 Drakes Lane, Summertown, Tennessee. Committed to a meatless diet, they tried to find accurate information on vegetarian nutrition and good recipes, but these were hard to come by. Concerned about the babies, they bought eggs from their neighbors, hardboiled them, and added the mashed yolks to baby foods. Choosing like "techno peasants" to live a simple, low-consumption lifestyle, they grew much of their own food, including soybeans, which were first planted in the spring of 1972 and eaten during the first year mostly as boiled soybeans. Later, pressure cooking was discovered.
One of the first Farm members to start serious research on soyfoods was Alexander Lyon, who had a PhD in Biochemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena). There his boss had been Henry Borsook, a biochemist, who had played a key role in starting the soy-based Meals for Millions program. Alexander had talked with him about soy and thus knew something about its great potential, but he knew nothing about individual soyfoods or about fermentation. During Christmas vacation of 1971, while visiting his family in the New York area, Alexander did a lot of library research on soyfoods. He wanted to develop a weaning food for the babies and a soy protein isolate to use as the base for it, as was done in many canned infant formulas. He soon learned that the first step would be to make soymilk. In tracking down information on soymilk production, he also came across information on tempeh, miso, and whole soybeans. He returned to The Farm and, on the ground floor of the three-level community sorghum mill, he set up a small "soy dairy" (In 1974 in Hey Beatnik, The Farm was the first group to use this term) which, in March 1972, began making soymilk that was rationed for babies and children. The soybeans were dry ground with an electric coffee grinder and cooked over a gas burner in a double-walled $15 coffee kettle. The soymilk was extracted using a top-loading washing machine, lined with a fine screen or sack, on the fast spin cycle. It was chilled in a holding tank, then distributed. The first year production climbed from one to three 20-gallon batches of soymilk a day. People loved the soymilk, served cold on special occasions with a little vanilla and sweetener. A little experimenting began with souring the soymilk by letting it stand or curding it with microbial rennet to make cheeselike and yogurtlike products. Because of an interest in using the okara (soy pulp) left over from making soymilk, Alexander and Cynthia Bates began to experiment with okara tempeh, but they did not yet realize the potential of tempeh as a vegetarian entree. During 1972 Cynthia made a tempeh incubator, ordered a culture and literature from Drs. Hesseltine and Wang at the USDA Northern Regional Research Center, and started developing tempeh. At about that time Alexander wrote a 2-page manual called "Tempeh Instructions."
In the summer of 1974 Alexander left the soy dairy to work in the Motor Pool. Shortly thereafter the soy dairy moved into the larger canning and freezing building. Soymilk production expanded and tempeh started to be made with whole soybeans, using culture carried on a slice of home-grown sweet potatoes. A big change in understanding tempeh came in 1974, when Stephen made his first European trip. While visiting Farm friends in Amsterdam he was introduced to tempeh in a new way, and for the first time realized its great potential for America. He returned to the Farm and spoke of tempeh as the basis of a new industry in America. Experimental tempeh production was increased, a reach-in cooler heated by light bulbs was built to make an incubator, and dry dehulling was developed. The new tempeh was a great favorite.
In late 1974 The Farm published and printed "Yay Soybeans" (How You Can Eat Better for Less and Help Feed the World), a 14-page recipe booklet that was widely distributed for free. It mentioned that The Farm was then growing 150 acres of soybeans to feed its community of 800 folks. Recipes were given for making and using whole soybeans, soynuts, soy coffee, soymilk, soy flour, soy cheese (tofu, made by natural fermentation), and soy pulp (okara). There was no mention of tempeh. There were especially creative and original recipes for soysage (okara sausage), soybeans with tortillas, soy ice cream ("Ice Bean"), soy yogurt, soy (tofu) cheesecake, soymilk mayonnaise, and soyola (okara granola). One page each was devoted to soy nutrition, soy and world hunger, and PLENTY, the Farm's international relief and charitable organization founded in October, 1974. Also in 1974 The Farm published Hey Beatnik, a book about all aspects of the community's life. There were 2 pages on "The Soy Dairy" by Alexander Lyon and co-workers stating that they made 60 gallons of soymilk a day at a cost of $0.30 a gallon and distributed it on the farm in milk cans and gallon bottles. It was also mentioned that they made soy flour by grinding pre-dried soybeans in their mill. No mention was made of tofu or tempeh. Quite remarkably, The Farm was doing much the same type of pioneering work with growing soybeans and making them into soyfoods that had been done 50 years earlier by a similar group of spiritually minded, vegetarian young people at Madison near Nashville, only 70 miles away (see Chapter 58.3).
In early 1975 The Farm published and printed The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, which contained many soy recipes, some from "Yay Soybeans" and new ones for tempeh and for tofu curded with vinegar, plus the first tempeh recipes to be published in English. The Farm was then growing 295 acres of soybeans for its 1,100 members. Shurtleff and Aoyagi first learned of tempeh from this book in 1975, just as their Book of Tofu was going to press; they had just enough time to include a short section on tempeh in it. The Farm played a leading role in introducing vegetarian (especially total vegetarian) diets to America, and they always stressed that the soybean was the key to making such a diet tasty and nutritious. Their vegetarian cookbook went through many printings and was revised, expanded, and greatly improved in 1978. In 1977 The Farm wrote a booklet on Vegetarian Prenatal Nutrition and High Protein Recipes, containing many soyfoods recipes.
Until 1975 most of the tofu on The Farm was still made in homes by letting soymilk from the dairy stand until it curded. Larger scale tofu production was started by Laurie Sythe Praskin; after about 1978 it became available on a steady basis.
In August 1976 The Farm started the Farm Food Company in San Rafael, California. Here America's first Soy Deli was started (described below in detail), and the first of the new breed of soyfoods producers began to make a variety of commercial soyfoods from various international cultures, all under one roof (tofu, soymilk, tempeh, etc.). America's second Caucasian-run tofu shop and second Caucasian-run tempeh shop were also started here.
The Farm was one of the earliest and most important forces helping to introduce tempeh to America. By 1977 Farm Foods had begun production of a pure-culture tempeh starter and split soybeans; these were sold either separately, or together, as a tempeh kit, along with a small pamphlet containing a few recipes and instructions for making tempeh at home. By 1979 The Farm had written a number of articles about tempeh for national magazines such as Mother Earth News (Farm 1977) and East West Journal (Farm 1978); by May of that year it was advertising tempeh starter and tempeh kits in such magazines. Prior to 1979 tempeh had been available on The Farm only on special occasions. In that year, however, a Tempeh Trailer, developed in Louisiana by John and Charlotte Gabriel, was brought to The Farm, and the tempeh incubator was moved out of the canning and freezing building and made into a walk-in incubation room in the trailer. John Pielascyzk?? became head tempeh maker, and thereafter one could go to the Farm store, open the freezer, and take home tempeh almost any time. In 1984 The Farm published Colleen Pride's Tempeh Cookery, a handsome book containing many color photos.
The Farm was also America's first major producer of soymilk ice cream, brand named Soy?? Ice Bean. Production started in San Rafael in the fall of 1976 and soon five flavors were on the market. In early 1978 the business left San Rafael and in July of that year started operations in a big warehouse at 144 King Street in San Francisco. A large ice cream machine was purchased, and they were soon making up to 500 gallons of Ice Bean a week. By 1979 this was being advertised nationwide?? Farm Foods was also making tofu and Tofu Salad. Although business was booming, the company, because of internal problems, ceased operations in mid-1980, sold most of their equipment, and moved the business back to Tennessee. However, by late 1980 they were having a new formulation of Soy Ice Bean produced in Tennessee and were advertising it with full-page color ads in many national health food, counterculture, and vegetarian magazines.
Tennessee-based Farm Foods had been started by?? 1977. Their 1978 catalog offered a full line of soy products including tempeh starter, tempeh kits, split dehulled soybeans for tempeh, natural nigari (tofu curding agent), whole soy flour, whole soybeans, Good For Ya brand textured soy protein, Yay Soybeans T-shirts, plus their cookbook and various pamphlets. From 1978 Farm Foods had a booth at many expositions and fairs, especially in California, where they sold delicious Soy Ice Bean, Tofu Cheesecakes, and Tofu Salad, introducing these foods to tens of thousands of people. In 1980 The Farm opened Everybody's Vegetarian Restaurant in Nashville; it featured some 15 soyfoods dishes, including a number of those developed at the original soy deli in San Rafael.
The Farm was also active in taking soyfoods abroad. In February 1980 workers from PLENTY and people of the village of Solala in Guatemala opened the Solala Soy Dairy (details are given later). A soyfoods apprenticeship program was also started on The Farm, allowing people from Third World countries to come and study soyfoods production and recipe preparation suited to their own countries.
During 1981 the work of The Farm, and particularly of PLENTY, received extraordinary media coverage, including major articles in The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, People magazine, New Age magazine (cover story titled "The Hippie Peace Corps" by L. Wilson), and the Philadelphia Enquirer, plus television coverage on the CBS Evening News, NBC's Today Show, and CBC Canadian National Television. Many of these mentioned the Farm's work with soyfoods in Guatemala and at home.
The Book of Tofu and The Soyinfo Center. William Shurtleff first became interested in soyfoods in 1968, while practicing for 21/2 years under Suzuki roshi at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center near Big Sur, California. Working as a cook he regularly served tofu, miso, and whole soybeans for the community's vegetarian meals and once each year helped in the preparation of a 50-gallon batch of homemade red miso. In January 1971 he went to Japan and while living in Kyoto as a typically impoverished student, found that tofu and miso became basic parts of his daily diet. In December 1971 in Tokyo he met Akiko Aoyagi, who introduced him to many of Japan's favorite tofu and miso recipes. In October 1972 Shurtleff and Aoyagi first visited their neighborhood tofu shop in Tokyo to watch how tofu was made, then decided to write a book on tofu. A contract was signed with Autumn Press in January 1973. The Book of Tofu was written with a "beginner's mind." Shurtleff, who had graduated from Stanford University with degrees in Engineering and Honors Humanities, did not realize what he might have learned in any introductory course on food science, food processing, home economics, or nutrition, that trying to introduce "bean curd" to America simply never could succeed. Supporting themselves by living very simply and working 10 days each year as interpreters for representatives of Shurtleff's father's company who visited Japan on business, the two amateurs learned as they went, doing extensive original field research on tofu production and Japanese cookery, reading widely in Japanese and English, testing recipes in a tiny Japanese kitchen, and getting back manuscripts heartbreakingly covered with red editing marks to be rewritten and re-edited again. The detailed story of how this book (and each of their subsequent books) was written is given in the Preface of each book.
When the Book of Tofu went to the printers, Shurtleff and Aoyagi returned to California to begin the work of introducing tofu and soyfoods to America. In October 1975 they did their first "Tofu Class" at Westbrae Natural Foods in Berkeley, California, and were delighted when a larger than expected "crowd" of nine people showed up. They demonstrated how to make tofu on a home scale, used the fresh tofu to prepare a number of their favorite recipes, and talked about soyfoods and world hunger. Soon 25 to 30 people were attending the weekly classes, packing the small room and kitchen. That autumn they conducted 30 such classes throughout California; a number of these brought extensive media coverage. In October they filmed a 30-minute special entitled "Tofu" with KQED-TV in San Francisco.
Eagerly they awaited The Book of Tofu, which was published in December 1975. The first printing was a cautious 5,000 copies. Was America ready for tofu? Against all odds, both the authors and the publisher answered a resounding "Yes!" Autumn Press, a newly-established, small publisher, put all of its resources and talent behind the book, doing an outstanding job of marketing and publicity. The first printing sold out in one month. A second printing of 10,000 copies was done in February 1976 and a third printing of 15,000 copies in July. By early 1979 sales of the Autumn Press edition passed 100,000 copies. In January 1979 Ballantine Books published an extensively updated and Americanized mass-market edition of the book. By 1980 over 250,000 copies of the two editions had been sold. The book was widely excerpted and reviewed. It has often been said that this book gave birth to what later became known as the soyfoods industry. Many young Americans used the book to start their own tofu shops, and the book helped generate a strong demand for the tofu they produced and for tofu already widely available from Asian-American producers.
Delighted by the response to their first book and to the apparently strong interest in soyfoods, Shurtleff and Aoyagi continued their work. From February to July of 1976 they were back in Japan, finishing the research and writing on The Book of Miso. In August they established The Soyinfo Center (called New-Age Foods Study Center until September 1980), with offices in Lafayette, California, and Tokyo, Japan, and published their first catalog of books, pamphlets, and materials. The main purpose of the Center was to serve as a source of high-quality information about soyfoods and their production. In September 1976 their Book of Miso was published by Autumn Press. From 29 September 1976 to 3 February 1977 they did a "Tofu & Miso America Tour." Traveling in a large Dodge van, which they loaded with several thousand copies of their books and many tofu kits (made by Larry Needleman), they covered 15,000 miles and did some 70 public programs and many media interviews from coast to coast. Typical programs were hosted by groups from colleges and universities, natural foods stores, Macrobiotic centers, food co-ops, and the like, with attendance of 50-300 people. The Shurtleffs showed several hundred color slides, talked about soyfoods, world hunger, and healthful low-cost diets, then served samples of favorite recipes (Creamy Tofu Dips and Apple Slices Topped with Peanut Miso). They also spent 7 days at The Farm in Tennessee. Within 18 months after the tour, tofu shops or soy dairies had started in more than half of the cities where programs had been held.
In March 1977 William and Akiko were married. That same month they started research for The Book of Tempeh and in May spent a month studying tempeh in Indonesia. They worked with Takai Tofu & Soymilk Equipment Company to publish (in August) a catalog of small and medium scale tofu and soymilk equipment, which was then used by many of the new shops starting in America. In August the first book that they self-published appeared: Miso Production: The Book of Miso, Volume II, a craft and technical manual. In October they helped to establish Bean Machines, Inc., a California-based company, with Larry Needleman as president, which became a main supplier of tofu and soymilk equipment to the growing industry. In November Shurtleff gave three talks in Bangkok on fermented soyfoods and world hunger at the United Nations-sponsored Symposium on Indigenous Food Fermentations.
In June 1978, after 7 years in Japan, the Shurtleffs moved the base of their operations from Tokyo to Lafayette, California. Only two Westerners before them had lived in East Asia primarily to study soyfoods: Dr. A.A. Horvath from 1920-1935 and William Morse from 1929-1931. Factors affecting the Shurtelff's ongoing contribution were that Akiko was Japanese, William spoke fluent Japanese, Akiko cooked and both enjoyed the local food daily, and they traveled extensively throughout Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. Their new home in the San Francisco Bay area, one of the most active centers of soyfoods innovation in America, gave them a good vantage point from which to follow and assist new developments. In December the extensively revised, updated, and Americanized Ballantine Books edition of their Book of Tofu was published.
In July 1979 both their Book of Tempeh (Harper & Row) and their Tofu and Soymilk Production (The Soyinfo Center) were published, just in time for the second annual Soycrafters Conference. In March 1980 their Tempeh Production was self-published. From May 5 to August 3 the Shurtleffs again packed their van full of books and did their 1980 Soyfoods America Tour, which included 27 public programs, 30 media engagements, 9,000 miles of driving, and attendance at the University of Illinois' 2-month INTSOY Short Course in Soyfoods Processing. Shurtleff was the first Westerner to attend this course, ordinarily reserved for Third World students. In September they changed the name of their Center to The Soyinfo Center, and in October they began work on this soy history book. In July 1980 Ahorn Verlag in Germany published a handsome German edition of The Book of Miso, the first foreign translation of their books on soyfoods. In the fall The Soyinfo Center published four pamphlets on soyfoods in Spanish: Que es el Tofu?, Que es el Tempeh?, Que es el Miso?, and Soya: Fuente de Proteinas del Futura. In cooperation with the Soycrafters Association, the Center combined and computerized their two soyfoods mailing lists, which contained a total of 7,700 names in 50 categories, including roughly 1,500 names outside the US. By the end of 1981 the list contained the names of roughly 11,000 people interested in soyfoods. Over the years the Center had developed a Soyfoods Color Slide Library, which by late 1980 contained about 2,500 slides, including 11 color slide shows with narration for each slide, available for purchase or rent.
During 1981 The Soyinfo Center began a concerted effort to build a large and complete library on soyfoods and soybeans, including many early documents of historical interest. By mid-1984 this Soyfoods Library contained catalog cards for 6,300 original or photocopied journal articles and 650 books, making it the largest such collection in the world. Each card contained one or more of 180 keywords and these were in the process of being computerized. The Center also began development of an International Soyinfo Center Network; in January the first branch was opened in Sweden by Ted Nordquist of Aros Sojaprodukter. In March the updated Ballantine edition of The Book of Miso was published and in August the German edition of The Book of Tofu.
Since 1972 William and Akiko have devoted their full time and energies to work with soyfoods. His research, writing, and consulting, her daily recipe testing and artwork, and their mutual running of their very active Center kept them busy 11 to 13 hours a day, 7 days a week year-round. Throughout this time they helped others to start many soyfoods businesses, wrote numerous articles on soyfoods for national publications, published pamphlets on tofu, tempeh, and miso, and received extensive media coverage. Their dream was to introduce soyfoods to the Western world as part of a new way of life, which included healthier (ideally meatless) diets, a simpler and more spiritual lifestyle, and a commitment to put an end to world hunger. Their books, which had sold over 535,000 copies by early 1984, were somewhat unique in two ways. First, they attempted to take a holistic approach to individual foods by discussing their history, nutritional value, importance in terms of world food supplies and world hunger, cultural context, recipes, commercial production, biochemistry, and microbiology, and to give extensive bibliographies and listings of people interested in each food. Second, they attempted to present this information in a language and style that made it relevant and interesting to both the professional scientist, researcher, or manufacturer, and to the lay reader.
During the 1980s the Shurtleffs focused on researching, writing and editing books for professionals worldwide. These included their annual work Soyfoods Industry and Market: Directory & Databook (from 1982 on), Soyfoods Labels, Posters, and Other Graphics (1982), Soymilk Industry and Market: Worldwide and Country by Country Analysis (1984), and History of Tempeh (1984). Since 1980 they have been at work on their largest projects to date: History of Soybeans and Soyfoods: 1100 BC to 1980s and the computerization of the 6,500 bibliographic records in their library using 180 keywords. They hope to make this computerized database available worldwide as part of the Food Science and Technology Abstracts database, the world's largest, oldest, and most widely used food-related database. Yet their primary interests and basic goals have remained unchanged since the beginning: to do something about world hunger and the ravages caused by the standard American meat-centered diet.
The work of William and Akiko Shurtleff since the early 1970s has introduced traditional low-tech soyfoods to millions of people throughout the world, inspired more than 45 books on tofu and tempeh, led to the establishment of more than 300 soyfoods companies in the Western World and the Third World, and created booming new soyfoods industries in these areas. The Shurtleffs have demonstrated how two people who care and are willing to work hard can make a difference in making a better world for all.
Early Soyfoods Producers. The first of the new Caucasian soyfoods producers to open in America was The Indonesian Tempeh Co., started in late 1975 by Gale Randall in Unadilla, Nebraska. (For details, see Chapter 35). The second new tempeh shop was started by Farm Foods (Aug. 1976).
The first of the new non-Oriental tofu companies was the Welcome Home Bakery and Tofu Shop, started by Alec Evans in Corvallis, Oregon, in March 1975. The No Moo Dairy, started by Peter and Judy Beane in Portland, Maine, opened in April 1976. A list of other early tofu shops and their starting dates is given in Chapter 28. There were at least 7 small commercial Caucasian-run tofu shops by the end of 1976, and at least 13 by the end of 1977. (15 by Feb. 1977??)
The more famous and successful of the early soyfoods producers were Island Spring in Vashon, Washington (which opened in December 1976), Laughing Grasshopper in Millers Falls, Massachusetts (Jan. 1977; it later became the New England Soy Dairy, the largest of the new breed of tofu shops and by 1981 the third largest of all tofu makers in the US), Surata Soyfoods in Eugene, Oregon (March 1977), The Rochester Tofu Shop in Rochester, New York (May 1977; it later came Northern Soy), The Soy Plant in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Sept. 1977), Swan Foods in Miami, Florida (Sept. 1977), and White Wave in Boulder, Colorado (Oct. 1977). Niels Bohr, the great physicist, once said: "An expert is a person who, through his own painful experience, has found out all the mistakes which can be committed in his field." Most of the people who founded and ran the first shops gradually developed expertise in this way. But not all succeeded; some struggled then went under from lack of experience, capital, or a sufficient demand for their products. The first two tofu shops, Welcome Home and No Moo Dairy, were both out of business within 2 years. The industry's first major casualty was Swan Foods in Miami, which plunged from nationwide fame to oblivion in December 1978; in one intense year of business they lost $140,000. But the great majority persevered and succeeded, slowly but nobly.