The Journal's "Table Talk" column in the last issue (Jan. 6) caught my attention. The article, titled "Un-Natural Foods," made some important points about the quality of certified organic food and also the questionable use of the claim "natural" for some food products potentially exposed to hexane, a processing solvent used during oilseed extraction. The article spotlighted Silk, one brand of "natural," non-organic soymilk.
First, I would like to assure customers of locally made and certified organic Tofu Shop brand soymilk, veggie burgers and other tofu products that our products are free from any potential hexane tainting. We process our own certified organic soybeans in-house in small batches, using traditional methods of grinding and open-kettle cooking.
While there is good information in the article, it passed over the equally important underlying story of the saga of White Wave, the company that first developed Silk soymilk, and what can happen to a product's quality when small companies are bought out by larger ones.
Much like Humboldt's own Tofu Shop Specialty Foods, White Wave was born in the mid-1970s. Riding a wave of demand for vegetarian, ethnic and soy food products, White Wave tofu became a national brand. In the 1990s it introduced Silk, an organic soymilk. At the same time, major research on soy suggested protective health benefits for heart disease, some cancers and other ailments.
Soymilk sales soared. White Wave approached Dean Foods, perhaps the largest dairy distributor in North America, as an investor. Dean Foods eventually bought out White Wave and over time has changed most of the Silk line from "organic" to "natural." Here at Tofu Shop Specialty Foods, we remain a local/regional company and are committed to the well-being of our local community.
Regarding the last paragraph of the Journal's article, which attacks soy in general, it is largely held by reputable health experts, that soy -- when consumed as traditionally processed, whole foods like tofu and soymilk (as opposed to soy protein isolates or concentrates) -- is a very healthy addition to most diets.
I encourage folks to visit our website and go to the page on "Soy and Health" for more information. We also have an informative page about how we make our tofu.
Matthew Schmit, Tofu Shop, Arcata