Local Tofu?

Regular readers might remember that I like tofu, and made it one of my exceptions when it came to this month’s local eating challenge.

Every kind of tofuI have found that I like comes from California. And I really didn’t want to go without tofu for an entire month. So, I decided that, like rice, coffee, chocolate and Asian ingredients like soy sauce and fish sauce, I would make an exception for tofu.

Except, I discovered today, that I don’t have to do that.

I found tofu that is made seventy-five miles away from where I live in Athens, Ohio out of organically grown soybeans from Mt. Vernon, Ohio.

Spring Creek Natural Foods Tofu has been made in the little town of Spencer, West Virginia for the past twenty-five years. It started as a worker-owned business back in the 1970′s when some hippies who came from some unspecified “big cities” to live off the rich farmland of Roane County, West Virginia. They found that they couldn’t make a living farming, so decided to take up selling the really good tofu they made by hand in thier kitchen.

And then the business grew, and they have a facility that has employed up to seventeen people, all of them locals. They supply tofu to the socially conscious students in the dining halls of Oberlin College, and just last year, they won the Green Entrepeneur Award presented by the West Virginia Environmental Council. Apparently, they have fans as far aways at the tofu-loving California, who swear that they cannot find finer soy products than those produced by Spring Creek.

Apparently, late last year, the company suffered some setbacks in the form of equipment failure and damage, and had to close down operations and lay off workers while repairs were made. After months of work, the facility just started production again this week, apparently, in enough time to send a shipment out to the local Kroger’s store here in Athens.

I have to say, I agree with the fan in California who swears it is the best tofu he’s ever eaten. I tasted a cube of it raw while I was cutting it up, and I was pleased with the texture, which is firm, with a definate chew, but not mealy or gummy. When tasted alone, it had a bit of a tang, almost as if it was slightly fermented, but mostly, it had the clean, somewhat sweet flavor of soybeans.

Needless to say, I will be buying this product again; not only am I supporting a local food manufacterer; I am also supporting a local organic soybean grower.

And, on top of it all–it tastes better than any other tofu I have eaten.

You can’t beat that.

15 Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. awesome! I had been thinking about what you said a lot … about the soybeans that are grown in Ohio being taking to lands far away to be processed. Glad to see someone is bucking the trend.

    Comment by life begins @ 30 — August 16, 2005 #

  2. Barbara–Good to know that I can get yummy, local tofu at Kroger, no less. Thanks for being such a good food sleuth!

    Comment by Court — August 16, 2005 #

  3. Yeah, Jen–I am excited to see that there is such a thing as local tofu–and to have it turn out to be really good is an extra special bonus.

    Hey, Courtney! Let me know what y’all think of it after you try it! It is really, really tasty.

    Our local Kroger is pretty cool–they have an entire section of local foods, in with the natural and organic foods department.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — August 16, 2005 #

  4. Casey and I just finished delicious sandwiches made from Spring Creek Hickory Smoked Tofu and lettuce, tomato, and whole wheat bread from the farmer’s market. The tofu is really, really tasty!

    Also, Kroger was already sold out of the Savory Baked flavor and we bought the last package of Hickory Smoked, so hopefully this means their products are proving very popular.

    We also got the BBQ and Teriyaki Baked flavors, so I’ll let you know how it is.

    Comment by Court — August 17, 2005 #

  5. I have a package of the smoked tofu, but haven’t eaten it yet. The leftover Ma Po made with their extra firm tofu is phenominal.

    I want to try deep frying the tofu into tofu puffs for use in Chinese dishes like Bean Curd and Black Mushroom. That was Morganna’s favorite dish when she was about two years old.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — August 17, 2005 #

  6. I love that that was Morganna’s favorite dish when she was two. She is her mother’s daughter! :)

    Comment by Court — August 17, 2005 #

  7. LOL!

    She was eating and loving Chinese food when she was tiny. When she was around two was when I worked at the China Garden, and she used to run into the restaurant when I’d bring her for dinner, her arms up in the air like a wee blonde Hotei and yell, “Mei, Mei! Mordanna want dofu!”

    Mei loved that, and would scoop her up and carry her to the table, with Morganna kicking and laughing.

    Huy made the dish sometimes with fried tofu puffs and sometimes with extra firm tofu that he would pan fry. Black mushrooms, soaked in rice wine, were cut in half, and the tofu was cut in triangles. The rest of the dish was snow peas–it was a beautiful color contrast. The sauce was mostly chicken broth, a bit of rice wine, and some thin soy sauce, with some ginger and garlic.

    It was delicious, and Morganna could eat enormous amounts of it for such a little girl. And she loved rice.

    Huy would come out to watch her eat, but she was scared of him, so, he’d hide from her so he could watch, and he would just smile to see her eat so well.

    They were so good to her–they loved her like she was their own niece.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — August 17, 2005 #

  8. i found it interesting that all the tofu you found comes from california! though i live in california, it seems that all the soybeans come from somewhere else, so for the eat local challenge, i’ve had to make tofu one of my exceptions. this sounds like a great company and i’d love to see if any of the stores around here stock their tofu. since i’m currently in the bay area on a visit, i did buy tofu from this local vendor, who, unfortunately, secures their soybeans from arkansas: http://www.basicsoy.com/ . ah well. at least it’s locally made anyway. (and it’s pretty darned good, too!)

    Comment by mipmup — August 21, 2005 #

  9. Mipmup–welcome!

    Soybeans are one of the number one crops in the Midwestern and Southern states–I don’t know if they are grown in California or not. Most of the soy grown in our country goes to the making of oil or animal fodder, or it is processed and used in various food products.

    However, more and more of it is being used in the making of soy milk and tofu and the consumption of these products has risen sharply in the past few years, so maybe we will be seeing more smaller, local companies making “artisan tofu” that is as tasty as the Spring Creek Natural Foods stuff.

    I’d like to see Wild Oats start carrying it nation-wide–or Trader Joe’s. That would be very, very cool–I’d very much like to see this small company succeed. For one thing, they are making a fine product, but for another thing, they are bringing jobs to a very economically depressed area of my home state. While I no longer live in West Virginia, I do have compassion for the plight of her people.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — August 22, 2005 #

  10. I was in Morgantown,Wv this past Saturday. We went to a little out of the way eatery ” The Black Bear” The special of the day was a sandwich of the day”The Rope Swing “. And on it you could get tofu, not a tofu fan. But then it said tofu from Springcreek , Spencer, Wv. So I was like ok lets do it. ONE FANTASTIC SANDWICH!!!!! Now I’m gonna have to find this local tofu, just so I can have it at home. February4,2007

    Comment by Val Carnell — February 4, 2007 #

  11. Val–you can get it at some Kroger stores–ask for it by name. Here in Athens, we can get it at Kroger’s a local bakery and at a local natural food store.

    Good luck in finding it–it is great, isn’t it?

    Comment by Barbara — February 5, 2007 #

  12. Spring Creek soy sausage is bloody, bloody awful, and while I appreciate their attempt, I feel that this (mock meat) product is so bad, that will furnish selfish assholes an excuse to eat meat.

    Comment by kl — February 20, 2010 #

  13. Spring Creek’s soysage is not all that palatable, I agree. Their eggless salad, however, is the bombdiggitydankest!!!

    Comment by Mountain Momma — June 21, 2011 #

  14. Their tofu “meatballs” aren’t so good, either, Mountain Momma (love the screen name, btw), but the tofu itself makes up for the sausage and meatball failures. I might have to try the eggless salad, though……

    Comment by Barbara — June 22, 2011 #

  15. Love their product cant find it. Krogers NO Please tell me where to get it
    Deaonna

    Comment by Deaonna — December 18, 2011 #

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress. Graphics by Zak Kramer.
Design update by Daniel Trout.
Entries and comments feeds.