Jessica Sele has worked the Albany farmers market this summer as the representative from Hodo Soy Beanery, the Oakland-based company that Minh Tsai founded in 2004 after being frustrated by the lack of quality soy-products in the United States.
What's it like working at the Albany Farmers Market?
It's exciting to get the folks of Albany on board with tofu products. I feel like there's a lot of people here who haven't tried tofu yet, and it's really exciting to see them get excited about it and try new things.
Do you think there's a stigma against tofu?
In a sense—I feel like a lot of folks just walk by and say 'I don't like tofu.' And I ask them if they've tried ours, because it's actually incredible. And often times they'll just give it a go, and end up enjoying it.
Do you see tofu as a meat-substitute?
I would say it's its own thing. People use tofu as a substitute for meat products, especially our tofu burgers, but I think tofu pretty much stands on its own.
What kind of tofu products do you offer?
We offer fresh, handmade, organic, local tofu. We have all these grab-and-go salads—they're just preseasoned and ready to eat. We have a really amazing new product—it's an egg-less egg-salad, and it actually just won Best of Show in VegNews Magazine.
One of our most popular and interesting products are the yuba strips, which are tofu skins. We have spicy and sesame and they go really well on salads and stirfries.
Is there anything Albany residents seem to especially enjoy?
Albany residents love the sesame yuba—can't get enough of it.
What are your prices like?
It does cost a little more to have things locally made and organic. But for what you're getting it's such a great price. The cheaper side would be to just get the plain tofu rather than the ready-to-go salads.
Where else can people find Hodo Soy products?
We're at all the Ecology Center farmers markets, and our products are used by a bunch of restaurants and all kinds of stores like Costco, Whole Foods, and Berkeley Bowl.
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