Soy Dairy brings fresh taste to tofu
People who like to eat healthy will more than likely try a recipe with tofu. They know where to purchase it but have no idea of where it is made. El Cajon residents will be proud to learn that their tofu may come from San Diego Soy Dairy, a tofu factory in their own back yard.
Owner Shawn Daniels, 48, took over the plant when he bought it two years ago from the former owner. Daniels’ father-in-law read about the sale of the dairy in a Chinese newspaper and suggested that Daniels take it on.
“It was a different direction,” said Daniels, a former software programmer. But he knew that I liked to cook as a hobby.”
Daniels had cooked with tofu in the past, although he did admit that he did not particularly seek out tofu dishes. Now, however, he has developed some of his favorite recipes using Soy Dairy tofu.
“Tofu has a great way of blending in with the flavor of food. And our tofu has a great texture and consistency, similar to cheese, so the recipes turn out good,” he said.
Dana Minadeo, account manager at Soy Dairy, said she had never really tried tofu before she took on the job. Now she has her own special recipes, too.
“I made lasagna for my family recently, and used tofu, no meat. My family loved it. When I told them I used tofu, they couldn’t believe it.
“When tofu is prepared well, it tastes wonderful. One of our customers, Swami’s in La Mesa, has as terrific stir-fry with our tofu,” Minadeo said.
According to Daniels, Soy Dairy has helped make tofu an even better product mainly by its commitment to honest quality and value.
“While some other food companies continually degrade their ingredients, pack size, and value, we never have, and never will,” he said.
Tofu from Soy Dairy is made in the traditional way with nigari, an extract of sea salt. The factory never uses glucono delta lactone, which is a complicated derivative of corn, as so many of its competitors do.
“We are big fans of science, but we think we should be very cautious when it comes to the food we eat,” he said.
For as much as the health food industry has changed, the way tofu is made has remained the same for more than 30 years, aside from more modernized equipment and conforming to the best practices.
Five varieties of tofu made at the plant help lend a wider appeal to their customers all around San Diego County and beyond. The company’s customers include local grocery stores and restaurants, such as Sprouts in El Cajon.
The super firm organic is the most popular, probably because it is the most versatile, Daniels explained.
“Tofu is much more popular nowadays than it was even ten years ago,” he said. “People are starting to understand that there is a difference in the tofu they buy, and will spend a little more to get significantly greater quality.”
By far, tofu is the best source of plant-based protein currently available because it has no cholesterol or fat. It is also high in protein and other nutrients, including magnesium, a mineral essential to brain health.
Involving his company more in the greater community has also been a hallmark of Soy Dairy’s latest improvements.
“We have started to test market some new products,” Daniels said
Daniels said that El Cajon is very well positioned as a point of distribution, with a central location and easy access to all major transportation routes. More importantly, he pointed out, El Cajon has a deep and qualified labor pool, making it easy to staff up for growth.
“We are grateful to represent one of the last truly independent and free manufacturers in the state. Everyone who works for this company does an honest day’s work, and is paid a living wage. We have integrity and are widely respected for it,” Daniels said.
For more information on San Diego Soy Dairy, go to www.soydairy.net or call Minadeo at (619) 447-8638.