Legend has it that the versatile soybean was first turned into tofu by Prince Liu An of China, more than a millennia ago. It caught on in a big way among Buddhist monks, who had committed to a vegetarian diet, and were probably grateful to have a viable meat substitute for their recipes. “Bean meat,” they called it.
As Buddhism spread throughout the rest of East Asia, so did tofu. And, as the world got smaller, tofu traveled with Asian immigrants throughout the world.
Here in the U.S., tofu was used as a cottage cheese substitute during WWII, but during the 1950s and 60s, meat and dairy were de rigueur at the American dinner table. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late 1970s that tofu started to catch on in the vegetarian and health food communities.
And, when it did, Surata Soyfoods was there. They were one of the first small tofu shops in the U.S. Formed in March of 1977, Surata Soyfoods has never strayed from their original commitment of only using the best soybeans. Their beans have always been organic, and their facilities are organic certified, as well.
Surata’s soybeans are also non-GMO, and that’s no small matter. It’s a frightening fact that some 93% of the soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but not Surata’s. They source their beans from certified growers in the U.S. and Canada.
Surata believes that the nutritional benefits of soy (high protein, few calories, zero cholesterol) are best enjoyed by humans directly, not second-hand by letting animals enjoy the stuff, and then eating them.
Their product line includes two kinds of tofu: firm and soft. Their firm variety has that sink-your-teeth texture and more protein than most of the “high-protein” tofu you see at the supermarket.
They also make three kinds of tempeh: Original, Multigrain (with rice and millet), and Italiano, which is seasoned to perfection with Italian herbs and spices. It’s the perfect substitute for meat on pizzas and in spaghetti and lasagna.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, you can probably find Surata’s fine products at your local health food store. If you’re in Eugene, stop by and pay them a visit. Word on the street is that they have some great deals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Shhh!)
And, if you happen to be in Laughing Planet Cafe’s neck of the woods, stop by and see what we’ve done with Surata’s great products. Try a Thai Bowl, featuring local cabbage, broccoli, lemongrass peanut sauce, and of course, Surata tofu. Or, have a Soylent Green Bowl (not made out of people) with house-marinated Surata organic tempeh, brown rice, broccoli, local kale, and pumpkin seed pesto.
[Photo Credit: suratasoy]