Archive for November, 2013

The Greek Yogurt Whey

In early October, Chobani partnered with Cornell’s Food Science Department, donating $1.5 million to the school to help with food quality and safety, as well as training programs for those planning to work with yogurt. Part of the department’s research deals with managing acid whey, or the liquid found at the top of traditional yogurt.

Even before this partnership, Cornell already had a number of projects underway related to Greek yogurt and acid whey, including efforts to develop new products that use acid whey as an ingredient,” Dr. Martin Wiedmann, food science professor at Cornell, said.

The by-product from creating this high protein yogurt has been seen as detrimental to the environment. When released into the environment, acid whey can exhaust the oxygen from water, which fish need to survive. This is why dumping the waste is illegal. Instead, Greek yogurt companies have partnered with farmers to recycle the whey, as it is as acidic as orange juice, according to Justin Elliott of Modern Farmer.

However, Tristan Zuber, yogurt and cultured dairy products specialist at Cornell University’s Food Science Department, says acid whey is not toxic, unless it is mishandled.

“Right now, [farmers are] feeding it to cows, and cows like it because there’s a lot of energy content and lactose in it,” said Zuber. “Some of that whey is going into anaerobic digesters to create energy, in some cases it’s dried and used as a food ingredient.”

According to a Chobani spokesperson, other farmers use it as a fertilizer, but only at farms with nutrient management plans in place.

No longer a niche product, Greek yogurt is now mainstream, with several companies competing to have the highest selling yogurt product in the United States, according to Euromonitor’s 2012 report. In only five years since their opening in New Berlin, New York, Chobani rose to the challenge and became the No. 1 selling Greek yogurt in America.

Because of its higher protein content, Greek yogurt is healthier than traditional yogurt, or yogurt that has not been strained. The straining process eliminates the excess acid whey, which helps to concentrate the proteins in Greek yogurt.

“High protein is definitely a trend right now among consumers,” said Zuber.

After Chobani’s rise in the industry, the company began to face intense competition. According to Business Insider, Chobani used to dominate half of the market, but as other brands, such as Danone, starting producing their own Greek yogurt, Chobani’s share has fallen to 39 percent.

While Chobani faces competition, other similar businesses are taking advantage of the popular treat.

“We use Chobani for a number of reasons, the main reason why we use it is because it’s local and because the quality,” Matt Poole, owner of Smart Yogurt, said. “They have such a high standard for their yogurt.”

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Alexandra Leslie and Kristen Tomkowid are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and itskristom@gmail.com.

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Beer industry booms in New York state

Ithaca Beer Company’s expansion plan for a new fermentation room with tanks was approved on Nov. 5 by the Town of Ithaca Planning Board.

The company has grown 30 percent annually over the past two years, increasing from 12 to 55 employees said Allison Graffin, marketing director for Ithaca Beer Company.

In 2012, the nation’s craft beer industry saw a 17 percent increase in dollar growth. According to the Brewer’s Association, New York’s breweries ranked among the top for beer sales also in 2012, which meant a higher demand for hops, the flavoring and stability agent in beer .

Hops harvesting begins in late August and lasts through early October, according to the Hops Growers Association of America. Much like the hops plant — which can grow up to a foot in size a day — demand for hops is growing fast as well, which means jobs in the hops farming and beer industries are too.

“When we planted the hops four years ago there was 23 or 24 acres, I think, planted in New York State, and now there’s over 140 acres planted,” said Chris Hansen, co-owner of Climbing Bines Hops Farm in Penn Yan, New York.

This October, Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed 14 licensed farm breweries to the state. In order to receive a Farm Brewery license in New York State, the beer must be made primarily from locally grown farm products, according to the Farm Brewery Law. Cuomo said he wanted New Yorkers and visitors “to ‘buy local’ and keep coming back for more.”

“The fact that we can make a beer with all the ingredients grown in a three mile radius is pretty cool, because there’s not a whole lot of people in the country right now that are doing that,” said Hansen.

Because the business is booming, jobs in the beer industry are needed more than ever. According to data from The Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, jobs in brewing, wholesale and retail have increased by 127,770 from 2001 to 2012.

Hansen said people don’t realize how much labor really goes into hops farming, but if you have a lot of friends who just want to give you a hand and hang out, it doesn’t seem like work.

“Between farming hops and crafting beer,” Hansen said, “We are really enjoying ourselves and have found a very fun industry to be involved in.”

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Alexandra Leslie and Allie Healy are senior Journalism students at Ithaca College. You can contact them at adleslie13@gmail.com and alliemariefarrell@gmail.com.

Members of sustainable community preach gospel of nonviolence in Ithaca

Brayton and Suzanne Shanley, founders of the Agape Sustainable Community in Massachusetts, visited the Ithaca Society of Friends last Wednesday to promote their new book, The Many Sides of Peace.

Started in 1982, Agape promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle. They grow 60 percent of the community’s organic food, and they use solar electricity, a compost toilet and a car that runs on vegetable oil. It also provides an interfaith worship community that accepts people of all denominations, including atheists.

After the couple got married, they decided they wanted to live alternatively. They also started practicing what they called the “gospel of nonviolence.”

This gospel is a system that extends the concept of nonviolence from just between individuals to a person’s relationship to the Earth. Members of Agape live in harmony with nature rather than seeing it as a resource to be destroyed and plundered for profit.

“That lead us to create a place based on the desire to lead a simple life and continuing the teaching of nonviolence to others,” Suzanne said.

Dan Finlay, a member of the Ithaca Catholic Worker, said his group sometimes collaborates with the Society of Friends for occasions like this and that many members of both groups attend the other’s meetings. He has known the Shanley’s for many years ever since living with them at Agape.

“They meditate and pray daily as a basis for changing themselves, and then they go out into the world and do works of justice and mercy, which combines the contemplative and activist aspects,” he said.

Ecovillage at Ithaca, which has two 30-home cohousing neighborhoods, is similar in many ways to Agape. With some land set aside for community gardens and living quarters, 80 percent of the 175-acre site remains green space.

Ithaca is a community with the potential to embody the Shanley’s message, said Kartik Sribarra, a member of Danby’s new White Hawk Ecovillage.

“We’re both primed for it and still have a long way to go,” he said. “Ithaca is home to a lot of people who want to see things done right, but mindfulness is often absent; so I’m doing what I can to improve myself and my family.”

The Shanley’s hope their example will inspire others to take up the causes of pacifism and sustainability. This is especially in an era where, they say, human violence toward each other and the Earth-as evidenced by oil spill disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and long-standing conflicts in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria-seems to be out of control.

“We’re not going to make it the way things are going,” Brayton said. “You have to ask people, ‘Are you happy with this?’ And that’s where the work begins.”

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Alexandra Leslie and Kyle Robertson are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at adleslie13@gmail.com and krobertson1392@gmail.com.

Bed and Breakfasts Map of Ithaca

Click this picture for an flash animated map of bed and breakfasts in ithaca!

Click this picture for an flash animated map of bed and breakfasts in ithaca!