LETTERS: A salute to Sacramento Tofu

Editor’s Note: The following comment was posted on www.nichibei.org in response to the article entitled “END OF AN ERA: Sacramento Tofu Company closes after 68 years,” which was published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

So sorry to see Sacramento Tofu go. As a fellow tofu maker, I understand the hard work and diligence it takes to be really good at it, and so I salute Alvin for sticking with it all those years.

I met Alvin very shortly after his father retired and remember sitting in his office talking curds and whey watching his bewilderment at shifting from being a nuclear engineer to running the family tofu business. I believe as the oldest son it was his family duty to take over the business; maybe not his first choice then.

At that point in my tofu career, I was doing research on coagulation and had met the head of the dairy science department at UC Davis, Dr. Walter Dunkley. We needed soymilk for coagulation experiments and I found Alvin in those early transitional days. I took Dr. Dunkley over and we bought buckets of hot soymilk from Alvin and took them back to UCD to experiment with using dairy-style coagulation techniques instead of the traditional hand stirring. Without Alvin’s cooperation, we were out of luck as none of the big tofu companies would talk to me as a white guy claiming to be interested in tofu making.

That pioneering work later became a famous Bay Area soyfoods company called Wildwood Natural Foods.

So Alvin, I salute you and your wife. You will be missed and at the same time, you will have a well deserved rest.

I know the Hodo Soy guys and they make excellent products. Also, when it comes time to collect the rent you can always sit down with them and talk about the nuisances of curds and whey and smell the hot soymilk cooking.

Warm regards,
Jeremiah Ridenour
Ex-CEO, Wildwood Natural Foods.

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