This week Jasmin interviews Seth Tibbott, founder of the Tofurky company, about his journey from living in a treehouse to revolutionizing the use of tempeh, how a Discovery Channel star derailed his first career dream and inadvertently led him to where he is today, the history of Tofurky, and why he’s still waiting for its “sexy” break-out product.
In 1980, Seth Tibbott founded Turtle Island Foods, now “the Tofurky Company”, on $2500 savings from his 8-year career as a teacher/naturalist. The company’s first product was a tasty fermented Indonesian soy product called Tempeh. Many people, including his midwestern Aunt and fellow elementary school teachers, thought selling moldy soybeans to the meat centric American public was a very bad idea. For 15 years it appeared the naysayers were right as Seth pursued his dream while losing his shirt as a pioneer of the early plant-based foods movement. With an income of only $300/month, Seth built a 3-story treehouse that he called home for 7 years. In 1995, also against the advice of his partners, Seth introduced the first nationally marketed vegan holiday roast named “Tofurky”. The Tofurky brand now includes 35 different vegan products which are sold in 27,000 stores worldwide. Seth has chronicled his “40-year overnight success story” in a new book, In Search of the Wild Tofurky, that is now available “Wherever fine books are sold, or the shelf just below”.
In the intro to the show, Mariann and Jasmin examine how to practice gratitude during this ongoing pandemic and watch Tootsie together. We also continue our Supporting Vegan Businesses program by shouting out Kisses and Cupcakes, Coconut Whisk, Shake Shake Scramble, and No Meat May. Later in the episode, Mariann brings us Rising Anxieties!
As always, the award-winning weekly Our Hen House podcast is hosted by Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer.
This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.
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