Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side

Greek yogurt has taken America and the world by storm. This growing industry provides a healthy, protein packed snack that tastes delicious and is low in calories. A while back I came across this article that explains a bit more about the manufacturing side of Greek style yogurt and it’s affects on US industry. This is interesting and enlightening. I’ll definitely think twice next time I dip my spoon into container of Fage. 

The following words and images are courtesy of Modern Farmer. See article in full here.


Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side

By Justin Elliott on May 22, 2013

Greek yogurt is a booming $2 billion a year industry — and it’s producing millions of pounds of waste that industry insiders are scrambling to figure out what to do with.

Twice a day, seven days a week, a tractor trailer carrying 8,000 gallons of watery, cloudy slop rolls past the bucolic countryside, finally arriving at Neil Rejman’s dairy farm in upstate New York. The trucks are coming from the Chobani plant two hours east of Rejman’s Sunnyside Farms, and they’re hauling a distinctive byproduct of the Greek yogurt making process—acid whey.

For every three or four ounces of milk, Chobani and other companies can produce only one ounce of creamy Greek yogurt. The rest becomes acid whey. It’s a thin, runny waste product that can’t simply be dumped. Not only would that be illegal, but whey decomposition is toxic to the natural environment, robbing oxygen from streams and rivers. That could turn a waterway into what one expert calls a “dead sea,” destroying aquatic life over potentially large areas. Spills of cheese whey, a cousin of Greek yogurt whey, have killed tens of thousands of fish around the country in recent years.

The scale of the problem—or opportunity, depending on who you ask—is daunting. The $2 billion Greek yogurt market has become one of the biggest success stories in food over the past few years and total yogurt production in New York nearly tripled between 2007 and 2013. New plants continue to open all over the country. The Northeast alone, led by New York, produced more than 150 million gallons of acid whey last year, according to one estimate.

And as the nation’s hunger grows for strained yogurt, which produces more byproduct than traditional varieties, the issue of its acid runoff becomes more pressing. Greek yogurt companies, food scientists, and state government officials are scrambling not just to figure out uses for whey, but how to make a profit off of it.

A cow munches on feed mixed with acid whey.A cow munches on feed mixed with acid whey. Chobani is so desperate to get rid of the whey, they pay farmers to take it off their hands.

Rejman, a blonde-haired 37-year-old, and third-generation dairy farmer with a Cornell animal science degree, started accepting the stuff a few years ago after a Chobani representative called him out of the blue.

Rejman’s workers take the shipments and try to find uses for the whey: mix it with silage to feed to the farm’s 3,300 cows; combine it with manure in a giant pit for fertilizer; and even convert some into biogas to make electricity.

‘How do you handle all the whey without screwing up the environment?’
But it’s not so easy to integrate acid whey into the workings of the farm. The silage Rejman feeds his cows, for example, can only soak up so much before becoming unmanageable slop — “like dropping water on your pizza,” he says. It’s also sort of like feeding your cows candy bars — they like it, but shouldn’t eat too much or it upsets their digestive system. It’s a problem that Rejman admits defies easy solutions. “How do you handle all the whey without screwing up the environment?”

The root of the whey problem is the very process that gives Greek yogurt its high protein content and lush mouth feel.

Unlike traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is strained after cultures have been added to milk. In home kitchens, this can be done with a cloth. Greek yogurt companies still throw around the term “strained,” but in reality industrial operations typically remove the whey with mechanical separators that use centrifugal force.

The resulting whey is roughly as acidic as orange juice. It’s almost entirely made up of water, but scientists studying the whey say it contains five to eight percent other materials: mostly lactose, or milk sugar; some minerals; and a very small amount of proteins.

Greek yogurt companies trying to keep up with exploding consumer demand in the last few years didn’t have a good plan to deal with the ocean of whey they were producing. Now they’re racing to find solutions, all the while keeping mum about the results, if there are any: the yogurt industry is highly secretive and competitive.

There are no industry-wide statistics on where all the whey is going, but a typical option is paying to have it hauled to farms near the yogurt factories. There, it is often mixed into feed or fertilizer. Chobani, for example, says more than 70 percent of its whey ends up as a supplement for livestock feed.


But there is another possible consumer — babies.

“Because the Greek yogurt production grew so rapidly, no one really had the time to step back and look at the other viable options,” says Dave Barbano, a dairy scientist at Cornell.

State and industry officials reached out to Barbano last year following the first-ever Yogurt Summit, convened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Barbano, who specializes in filtration methods for separation and recovery of protein, has his sights set on the tiny amount of protein in acid whey. He believes it might be usable as an infant formula ingredient. But first Barbano has to figure out how to extract the protein in a cost-effective way, and his research is just getting underway.

The concept is roughly modeled on the success that cheese-makers have had selling products derived from their own byproduct — sweet whey. Sweet whey is more valuable and easier to handle than acid whey, as it has a lot more protein, and is easier to dry because it isn’t as acidic as Greek yogurt whey. Cheese-makers have developed a lucrative business selling whey protein for use in body-building supplements and as a food ingredient. And Greek yogurt makers are eager to follow suit.

“There are a lot of people coming in and out of New York state looking at whether this is a good opportunity for investment,” Barbano says.


While Barbano focuses on proteins, researchers in Wisconsin are studying how to extract whey’s dominant ingredient: sugar.

Scientists at the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have been experimenting for nearly a year on how to get edible-grade lactose out of acid whey. Such lactose is valuable as an ingredient in things like icing and as a browning agent in bread. “It’s kind of like oil refining: from crude oil you get gas and diesel and other products,” says Dean Sommer, a food technologist at the center. “This is the same concept. You figure out what’s in there and how to grab it and get value out of it.”

Sommer wouldn’t describe the filtration process to extract lactose because the industry-financed research is proprietary. But he believes some third-party companies are now considering building plants to convert acid whey into lactose.

Neil Rejman, an Upstate New York dairy farmer, stands before a lagoon of manure mixed with acid whey. This slurry will be turned in to energy by a machine called an ‘anaerobic digester.’Neil Rejman, an Upstate New York dairy farmer, stands before a lagoon of manure mixed with acid whey. This slurry has passed through a system called an ‘anaerobic digester,’ which converted some of it into electricity.
Meanwhile, back at Rejman’s farm in Scipio Center, N.Y., they’re converting the lactose into methane that can generate electricity.

When the whey arrives from Chobani, some of it is mixed with the vast quantity of manure the farm produces daily. From the manure pit, the light brown soup (basically a river of shit) flows into a 16-foot-deep underground concrete tank known as an anaerobic digester. An innocent looking expanse of cement in a big, green field dotted with dandelions, there’s a lot going on inside, where a fetid mix of manure and whey percolate.

The material is heated up and kept in the tank for about 20 days, during which time bacteria break up the organic material — the lactose, in the case of whey — and release gases, including methane. The gas is fed into generators that produce electricity to power the farm and to sell to the local utility for use elsewhere.

But the setup, which Rejman and his brother had installed five years ago, required a big capital investment that would be out of reach for small farms. It cost $4.5 million, $1 million of which the Rejmans got back through a state subsidy.

Rejman’s anaerobic digester. Rejman’s anaerobic digester. They primarily built the digester for what Rejman calls “odor control” for their neighbors, as digested manure smells much less than the raw stuff (“You ever take a shit in the toilet and leave it in there?” Rejman asks, by way of explanation.) The whey is an afterthought. In any case, just 20 of New York’s the state’s 5,200 dairy farms have an operating digester, according to Curt Gooch, a waste management engineer at Cornell.

And if any of the big yogurt companies have come up with a better whey solution, they’re being cagey about it. “We are currently exploring other options for our whey, but nothing we are ready to discuss at this time,” says Chobani spokeswoman Lindsay Kos. Dannon spokesman Michael Neuwirth says the company is looking at the nutritional possibilities of whey, but “we don’t have any plans to announce at this point.”

Home Greek yogurt makers have experimented with using whey in baking and pickling. But no one expects a bread or pickle factory to be able to absorb tens of millions of gallons of it.

Meanwhile, the tidal wave of acid whey is not slowing down. As one producer said at New York’s Yogurt Summit: “If we can figure out how to handle acid whey, we’ll become a hero.”

Photos by Justin Elliott. Photo illustration by Andy Wright.

Homemade Natural Deodorant

After my last post about Natural Deodorants, whether they work and the testing of a few brands, I decided to look into a homemade option as even the ones I tested contained a few ingredients I was unsure of. For full comfort and control over what is going on my body, I went with a simple recipe whose competence is assured by many bloggers and naturalists.

After scouring the internet, blogs and write-ups, I discovered that one recipe monopolized the internet. I decided to try it out for myself and see if it was something practical and efficient.


  • 1/3 cup organic cold-pressed coconut oil (solid state)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (aluminum-free)
  • 1/4 cup starch (arrowroot powder, cornstarch)
  • essential oils (optional)
Mix together the arrowroot powder and baking soda in a bowl before adding the coconut oil. Warmed the oil a little bit on the stove in a water bath to soften it. Add the coconut oil and any desired essential oils. Place the mixture in a flexible container and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to harden. Silicon ice pop trays work well.

Coconut oil solidifies at roughly 76°F so it is best to keep this deodorant in the fridge, especially during the summer and to take great care when traveling with it. One of the bloggers who used this recipe loaded it into a cleaned out deodorant stick before being placed in the fridge to harden and form a deodorant “stone.”

All of these ingredients are inexpensive and the concoction works! Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is deemed to have antibacterial qualities. The starch assists in keeping you feeling dry while the baking soda removes any and all odors. As the coconut oil is cold pressed and organic, it is as unrefined as possible and only has a slight coconut smell that will not last long. I decided to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil and lavender essential oil for a fresh and fragrant scent. Be careful when dressing as it does contain oil and can stain your clothes (will come out in the wash). It helps to let it soak in for a bit before dressing. I still found applying twice a day to have the best results.

Tough Mudder New England 2014

This experience was by far the hardest physical endeavor I have ever attempted and accomplished. Last July, my little brother and I rolled up to Mount Snow and seriously questioned our judgement and sanity. We were decked out in our best workout gear and covered in war paint.


The race began with a pump-up speech on camaraderie, teamwork, and our veterans. Then BANG, it all began. Up and down, and up and down the ski slopes of Mount Snow till we felt as though our legs would collapse beneath us. The obstacles were challenging and truly required help from each other as well as the teams around us. Complete strangers were more than happy to help any and everyone that needed it.





The entire time I was saying “never again.” Now, I can’t wait to do another!





For the past few months I have been severely shirking my duties as the sole writer and Editor in Chief of this blog. I apologize to any loyal followers out there who have eagerly been waiting for the next post. I doubt there are any left after 7 months of no activity, but I hope you return!

Today, I return. Revitalized, full of energy and ambition, eager to get this blog back in the public eye. Many adventures occurred in the past 7 months that I desperately look forward to sharing with you. So much has transpired, so much has changed. And yet, so much remains the same. While I am hopeful and excited about the future, I also feel indecisive and trapped in a world that cannot make me happy.

Over the course of the next year, I wish to change this. Find my niche in the world and break free of the invisible bonds that hold me back from the joy I seek. I look forward to sharing this adventure with you.

Welcome back to myself and to my followers. Thanks for sticking around!

Rockport, MA

ROCKPORT – A scenic, coastal town in Northern Massachusetts with sailboats in the harbor, delicious lobster rolls, and many local arts and crafts. The town is a vibrant summer tourist destination. The streets become packed with families headed to the beach and couples looking for a romantic bed and breakfast escape.

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Political Cartoons on Climate Change

The environment is in serious trouble. Human beings have taken the world’s natural resources for granted. We have stripped, exploited, brutalized, and ravaged the world for generations. Now it’s time to pay the consequences and take action in order to minimize the damage and heal the world. The following political cartoons draw attention to some of the worlds major environmental issues.

Andrei Popov (Russia)

Felipe Galindo (USA)

Shahram Rezaei (Iran)

Markus Grolik (Germany)

Pawel Kuczynski (Poland)

Alexandru Bartfeld (Israel)

Jesper Sørensen (Denmark)

Bruce Mackinnon (Canada)

Bob Eckstein (USA)

Why do we refrigerate our eggs?

I’ve recently started purchasing fresh farms eggs from a farm in Warwick, NY right down the road from my horses stable. They sell these eggs washed or unwashed. When she first asked me this I wondered why on earth I would want to buy dirty, unwashed eggs. After coming across this article, I no longer by washed, but simply wash before using. I’m still in process of mentally preparing myself to switch to no refrigeration. This article is very interesting and will change your perspective on eggs and American standards. Click the link below to be taken to the original article. All text and images below are courtesy of io9. 

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

The U.S. is one of the only countries on Earth that keeps chicken eggs in cold storage. But why?

One of the most common health risks, when it comes to eggs, is posed by Salmonella bacteria. There are really only two ways Salmonella can get at an egg: the first is to contaminate the egg externally, on the surface of its outer shell. The second is to spread from the inside. The former occurs after the egg has been laid, most commonly by coming into contact with feces containing Salmonella bacteria. The latter can occur if the egg develops in the reproductive tract of a Salmonella-infected hen.

Research has shown that Salmonella-infected eggs stored at room temperature for periods longer than three weeks tend to become overrun by bacteria in numbers far greater than those stored at colder temperatures. Given this insight, you might assume that Americans store their eggs in the fridge to extend their shelf life, or to lower the risk of bacterial contamination, and you’d be right on both counts.

But then, maybe the question should really be posed the other way around: Given the sanitary benefits of refrigeration, why don’t other countries ship, package, and store their eggs at cold temperatures, like we do in the U.S.? Well, because, unlike America, they may not actually needto. Why? Because here in America, we wash our eggs – and while it may sound counterintuitive, the cleaning process may actually make eggs more susceptible to contamination.

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?SEXPAND

We mentioned above that eggs run the risk of getting feces on them. Whether that feces contains traces of Salmonella or not, it stands to reason that if an egg gets poop on it, you should wash it off. And, in America, that’s exactly what we do. In an elaborate automated process involving in-line conveyor belts, massive egg-scrubbing machinery, high-volume air-filtration systems and – last but not least – chlorine misters, American eggs are washed, rinsed, dried, and sanitized in an effort to remove as much dirt, poop and bacteria as possible, all while leaving the shells intact. (Read the details in the USDA’s Egg-Grading Manual.)

Or rather, almost intact. When a hen lays an egg, she coats it in a layer of liquid called the cuticle. It dries in just a few minutes, and is incredibly effective at protecting the egg from contamination, providing what European egg marketing regulations describe as “an effective barrier to bacterial ingress with an array of antimicrobial properties.” America’s egg-washing systems strip eggs of this natural protection. “Such damage,” the EU guidelines note, “may favour trans-shell contamination with bacteria and moisture loss and thereby increase the risk to consumers, particularly if subsequent drying and storage conditions are not optimal.”

Washing eggs is therefore illegal throughout much of Europe. In an interview with Forbes,Chief Executive of Britain’s Egg Industry Council Mark Williams gives another reason for the ban on industrial egg-cleaning facilities:

In Europe, the understanding is that [prohibiting the washing and cleaning of eggs] actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmers’ best interests then to produce the cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.

Okay, fine – but then why not just refrigerate the eggs, anyway? Wouldn’t this just give unwashed eggs an extra line of defense? Perhaps, but the European Union laws again note that – like washing – refrigeration could actually wind up posing a risk to consumers. Again according to European egg marketing regulations, eggs that are stored cold and later left out at room temperatures could become covered in condensation, “facilitating the growth of bacteria on the shell and probably their ingression into the egg.” EU guidelines therefore stipulate that eggs should be transported and stored at as constant a temperature as possible – a temperature between 66.2 °F and 69.8°F in the winter and between 69.8°F and 73.4°F in the summer.

The other reason Americans tend to refrigerate their eggs: our risk of Salmonella poisoning is often significantly higher than it is overseas, because our chickens are more likely to carry it. In the UK, for instance, it is required by law that all hens be immunized against Salmonella. This protection measure, enacted in the late 1990s, has seen Salmonella cases in Britain drop from 14,771 reported cases in 1997 to just 581 cases in 2009.

There is no such law in the United States, and while more farmers are electing to immunize their hens in the wake of a massive Salmonella-related recall in 2010Salmonella infection remains a serious public health issue. Even in spite of our egg-washing and our refrigeration habits, FDA data indicates there are close to 150,000 illnesses reported every year due to eggs contaminated by Salmonella.