Tofurky could have easily basked in the environmental glow that is producing alternative meat products. Almost by default these products are more environmentally friendly than their meat counter parts, which leaves a lot of room for environmental applause without a whole lot of ‘actual’ action. However, Tofurky has stepped in numerous sectors to ensure that they are giving back to the planet, to people, and making the change to a plant based diet ever easier. Their efforts towards fighting the climate crisis, work place homogeneity, and to provide quality made food to consumers is inspirational and should be championed and encouraged as Tofurky continues to grow. So this summer, be sure to check out their beer brats and other products, even the most meat driven of guests will be in for a pleasant surprise!
Water, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed canola oil, tofu (water, soybeans, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride), onions, soy flour and/or concentrate, amber ale (water, malted barley, hops, yeast), contains less than 2% of sea salt, cane sugar, spices, dehydrated onion, granulated garlic, garlic puree, carrageenan, dextrose, konjac, potassium chloride. With organic soybeans sourced from North America, Tofurky manages to dodge the main problem among plant based meats: intensive soy production that results in deforestation and/or dangerous pesticide use. Most of the deforestation occurs primarily in India and Brazil, threatening the Amazon rainforest. By this commitment to sustainably sourcing, Tofurky’s Beer Brats go beyond the ‘better than meat’ baseline. While plant based products are inherently going to be better for the environment because of resource usage and energy conservation, it is important to make sure that the plant based products are sustainable in their own light, not just when competing with meat competitors. While the Brats themselves are not certified organic, the Tofurky manufacturing plant in Hood River OR is Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, and the companies avoids GMOs at all costs. The Brats come in packing that uses low VOC ink and designs that minimize material usage; using recyclable ones where possible. In the near future, Tofurky will be rolling out climate fighting packaging. From motivational climate messages to scannable QR codes, Tofurky is calling for climate action through its packaging. My only suggestions for improvement would be to eliminate plastic from the packaging entirely. While this is a tricky problem to avoid due to food safety, as plant based meat alternatives become more popular, Tofurky has the opportunity to supply their products in bulk to deli counters and the like which could reduce single use plastic usage.
All of Tofurky’s products are made in house at their LEED Platinum Certified manufacturing plant in Hood River, Oregon. The third of its kind in the US, this plant serves an environmental feat that boasts a roof top garden with mini golf for employees and smart water usage that is 40% above Oregon building codes due to a solar hot water system. The building also is outfitted with solar panels which provide 8% of the plants energy needs and large windows are used to maximize natural lighting. 90% of all construction waste was either recycled or repurposed to be kept out of landfills.
Tofurky is still an independent and family run business as it was in the 1990s. They are B-corp certified, meaning that they have met or exceeded certain environmental and working condition standards and they continue to be highly rated by third party environmental evaluators across the board. The Cornucopia Institute gave them a 850/1000, with a special notice that they scored 100/100 for the disclosure of information for verification category. Green Stars Project gave them a 5/5, and their mission continues to invest in people, animals and the planet. They value work places diversity and support holistic worker benefits, they donate blemished products to homeless shelters and food banks, support animal sanctuaries, and are committed to keeping food out of landfills. They do so by partnering with the compost company Dirt Hugger to divert non salvageable products into compost to rebuild soils right in their backyard in Oregon. This effort alone keeps 142,956 lbs of food waste out of landfills each year. Tofurky also tries to work alongside organic and fair trade certified partners when possible. In every step of their supply chain Tofurky sets high standards and makes good on their promises. We absolutely need to applaud these leaps in sustainability and continue to push Tofurky towards environmental excellence.