Soco: Join Our Tahini Revolution
Tahini — toasted sesame seeds ground into a paste — is one of those miracle products most people look for: delicious, versatile, low in calories but high in protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. Arabic for “sesame seed butter,” tahini was praised by Herodotus some 3500 years ago and was listed as an ingredient of hummus in a 13th-century Arabic cookbook. Tahini is both old and a fundamental part of Middle Eastern heritage. Yet when two young Israeli entrepreneurs, Goni Light and Dana Harary, moved to Brooklyn, they couldn’t find the creamy, rich tahini they had grown up with. What to do? Start a company and supply your own.
Headquartered on Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue, SoCo Tahini distributes a range of products overseen by their Palestinian partner at a manufacturing facility in Nablus on the West Bank. “Our partnership is in every jar,” co-founder Goni Light said. “We think that economic collaboration is the best way to build bridges between communities in conflict.” In addition, SoCo contributes to communal cooperation by donating 1 percent of its proceeds to Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow (MEET), a nonprofit based at MIT that connects young Israelis and Palestinians by “using the common language of technology and entrepreneurship.” They hire MEET alums to work at SoCo, and host a summer seminar in Jerusalem to showcase different entrepreneurs.
SoCo offers three flavors, all with 100% stone-ground, dry-roasted sesame seeds: Artisanal is classic, and nothing but sesame seeds; Tahini & Pesto combines tahini and nut-free pesto, that can be substituted as a pasta sauce; Tahini & Dates adds a bit of sweetness that converts it to a “reimagined PB&J,” perfect for Americans looking for a hip update for a favorite childhood product. All flavors are vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free.
“In Middle Eastern countries, tahini is considered a superfood,” says Goni Light, pronouncing the magic word for the contemporary zeitgeist.