Let’s talk Tofurky!


GreenAcres has lots of vegetarian and vegan customers, so naturally we stock soy and non-dairy products for them, and we prepare RAW desserts and, in our stores that have delis, we offer house-made soups and menu items customers with food sensitivities can eat.

Just as we aim to please our gluten-free customers, we embrace tofu and experiment using it in all kinds of menus.  Case in point: our eggless tofu “egg salad” flies out of our delis regularly in salad or sandwich form. It’s one of our biggest sellers.

Since we’re big on grass-fed beef, and only buy free-range, organic chicken and turkey, and sustainable fish, we’re careful about the meatless products we carry in our store, and look for products that are produced by family-owned companies similar to ours.

Tofurky is a relatively-new product that has only been “invented” since 1995.  Vegetarians swear by it and can order it all year long at GreenAcres, but especially during November and December. As one of our vegan customers opines, “I used to hate the holidays. No one in my family is vegan but me and wouldn’t even consider my taste in food during Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

That very same customer now buys Tofurky, jazzes it up with her own experimental herbs, spices and glazes, and takes it with her to grandmother’s house. “I haven’t converted anyone yet,” she says chuckling, “but you’d be surprised how many put some of my side dish on their plates, actually enjoy it, and never know it’s not turkey.”

Statistics show that about 6% of the world population is vegetarian—about 400 million people. People decide to become vegetarian or vegan for countless reasons, but mostly it has to do with health, the environment or ethical and political reasons.  “In my case,” says our customer, “a college roommate from India introduced me to the world of vegan, and I could never go back to eating the way I did.  In fact, just the smell of meat makes me queasy.”

When the idea of creating Tofurky came up, the Tibbott family of Forest Grove, OR, jumped at the chance to make it the best tasting and textured product on the market.  Right off the bat, the family decided to use real wood chips in an actual smokehouse (rather than just adding liquid smoke) when preparing its Tofurky jerky and deli slices; and of course, only the best, organic soy and tofu for its rolled Tofurky roasts.

An article in the Washington Times in 2007 had this to say about the Tofurky founder, Seth Tibbott:

“Tibbott was just an ordinary hippie living in a tree house when inspiration struck.  The year was 1986, and Tibbott had spent the past six years hoping that his small business selling vegetarian meat alternatives in rural Washington state would catch on. Success proved elusive — the treehouse was the only place he could afford to live — until he developed a soy-based version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. He called it Tofurky.

“‘It’s a name that resonates with consumers,’ said Tibbott, who grew up in Chevy Chase, Md. ‘We’re fine with the fact they think it’s funny or they get a smile out of it. You remember jokes.’

“Tofurky hit store shelves in 1995, and the meatless bird has become a cultural phenomenon, showing up on TV shows such as ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘The O.C.’ Tibbott’s company, Turtle Island Foods of Hood River, Ore., has annual revenues in the millions. Tofurky sales have grown 37 percent this year, compared with 2006. Tibbott expects to sell 270,000 Tofurkys by the end of the holiday season, which translates to 438,000 pounds of tofu, wheat protein, canola oil and spices.”

Today the company produces about 10 million pounds of Tofurky each year.

“Tofuky,” says Tibbott’s website, “is a pre-cooked vegetarian feast designed to be the delicious centerpiece of your holiday or everyday meal. Made from a revolutionary tofu-wheat protein blend, our famous Tofurky® Roast is known for its incredible, turkey-like texture and flavor. Stuffed with wild rice and whole wheat bread crumb stuffing, this roast carves and cuts just like turkey but without the bones.”

By the time Christmas week is here, the GreenAcres refrigerated Tofurky roasts will be all but gone, but don’t despair, GreenAcres stocks Tofurky pizzas, sausage and frozen entrees all year long.

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