Seth Tibbott founded Turtle Island Foods, dba “The Tofurky Company” In 1980 on $2,500, his life savings from his 8-year career as a teacher/naturalist in the Portland, Oregon public schools. The company’s first product, tempeh (a fermented soy bean cake from Indonesia), was made and delivered in small batches to fledgling natural food stores in Portland and the west coast.
The first 9 years in business were a financial struggle. America was not quite ready for tempeh yet and Seth’s take-home pay averaged $290 for those years. Living the dream but losing his shirt, Seth rented four trees in 1984 near the tempeh shop for $25.00 per month and built a 3-story tree house in which he lived
for the next 7 years.
In 1995, the company’s fortunes changed with the introduction of the first Tofurky roasts at Thanksgiving. 500 roasts were sold that year throughout
the Pacific Northwest but soon a larger, national market came calling.
Today, 38 years after its founding, Tofurky is still a family owned, independent enterprise and Seth is the company’s Chairman and stepson, Jaime Athos is now CEO, carrying the dream forward. Tofurky is a model of “slow growth” and is unique for never having any equity investment except for $17,000 from Seth’s brother Bob in 1989. Today, Tofurky products are sold in over 25,000 stores worldwide on 6 of 7 continents and are made in a new eco production plant built to LEED Platinum standards. Seth has been overseeing Tofurky sales in the export market for the past 4 years which has afforded him the opportunity to witness firsthand the current explosion of veganism throughout the planet.
My Treehouse Circa 1987 (still in trees!) and LEED Platinum Level/Eco Tofurky Mfg Plant, Oregon
Katie Cantrell is the founder and executive director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. She has given over 300 presentations on the ecological impacts of industrial animal agriculture to universities such as Stanford and Yale, governmental agencies such as the Multnomah County Green Team and the California Department of Public Health, and corporations such as Google and Microsoft. Her educational resources have been used by food justice advocates across the world.
ISSST is proud to have taken the Sustainable Food Pledge, also Katie’s organization. The Sustainable Food Pledge is a commitment taken by conferences, to serve 100% vegetarian food, with most of that being plant-based.
Chrissie ZaerpoorIs co-owner of Kookoolan Farms, which features 100% grassfed beef and lamb; pasture-raised 100% organic-fed chicken; sustainably-caught, minimally-processed wild seafood; organic mead and kombucha. Chrissie worked for 13 years at the Intel Corporation in a variety of equipment and process engineering roles, before becoming a full-time farmer.
Steven Ward is the Executive Chef of the DoubleTree Portland Hotel. Chef Steven Ward has been with the DoubleTree Portland for 13 years. Chef’s food philosophy is simply put: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable. This practice makes for a lively and ever-changing menu from season to season. Chef has cultivated relationships with local farmers, ranchers and producers by purchasing fresh food in large amounts, processing the product and storing to use in the off seasons. These sustainable food systems have had a tremendous impact on the hotel and our clients. These systems Chef Ward has put in place allow such a large venue to enjoy sustainable food products year round.