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Local Spotlight—Artie’s Tempeh

Natural Times, October/November/December 2012

By Gretchen Hein

Imagine you are driving down the street and you spot a bicycler pulling a trailer. That’s not an uncommon site, however, sitting on this trailer is a big, white cooler. If you’re the curious sort you start to wonder and make assumptions. Would you ever consider that riding in that cooler is one of the best plant-based protein sources on its way to market? You might if you lived in Indonesia, or a little closer to home, Gainesville, Florida and you knew about Artie’s Tempeh.

It all starts with a 50-pound bag of soybeans. De-hull them, boil them, dry them and then add spores of a specific Rhizopus mold. Put this mixture into large plastic bags about three-quarters of an inch deep, and set them on a flat surface to ferment. Wait approximately 30 hours and voila—tempeh. Not only does the mold hold the tempeh cake together, but it helps to make the protein more available.

Art Guy, more commonly known as Artie, learned the tempeh trade from Joe Caraballo. He apprenticed with Joe and then the two set up shop cooperatively, supplying the Gainesville area with tempeh. Soon it became apparent that they approached business in different ways. They decided it best to go their separate ways, agreeing to share the Gainesville area. Artie branched out and now his tempeh can be found all over North Central Florida—from the Gainesville area north to Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Artie has added yet another twist to the phrase locally produced and distributed. He uses his bicycle for deliveries. He, of course, doesn’t use the bicycle to deliver to distant outposts such as ours, but around the Gainesville area it’s become his main mode of delivery. His methods of producing and delivering tempeh are close to tempeh’s Indonesian roots. Because Artie doesn’t pasteurize his product, the tempeh taste is more flavorful, buttery and clean than most other tempeh produced on a large scale. Artie’s tempeh can be found in the freezer section at New Leaf Market. I’ve been lucky to be given some tempeh cakes, hours after packaging and it ranks as the best tempeh I’ve ever eaten. Artie’s tempeh can also be found around town at the Fat Sandwich shops.

Grilled, broiled, boiled, sautéed or fried tempeh can be used in a variety of ways. Need recipe ideas? Check out Artie’s web site, http://artiestempeh.blogspot.com/ or New Leaf Market’s website. You can also check out a tempeh article I recently wrote for New Leaf Market, which gives more nutritional information and other recipe resources. Tempeh’s a great addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet, or almost any other diet.

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