Whey to go!

We recently visited Tillamook cheese factory in Oregon – hence the terrible pun (ok, ok, I’m sorry, I blame the effects of incessent pedaling). The business is a pretty big employer for the whole area as it produces 130 million lbs of cheese per year, using 150 million gallons of milk – that’s a lot of cows! They pride themselves on not using any artificial additives in their cheese – which ranges from incredibly bland to almost tasty (that’s harsh, but they certainly wouldn’t blow anyone’s taste buds away back home). However, there wasn’t much information on how the cows are treated or what they are eating as it’s entirely up to the individual farmers. As we wandered around the frankly strange visitor centre (you look down through glass onto the factory floor like it’s some kind of cheese zoo!) I got to thinking what on earth happens to all the waste products especially the whey. Whey is the liquid that remains after the milk has curdled and been strained. At Tillamook they dry it and apparently it is used as an additive in processed food, for animal feed, in nutritional supplements and even sometimes as a drink. That seems like a nice closed loop system to me, but as with everything it’s probably too good to be true. Does anyone know any different?

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3 Responses to Whey to go!

  1. Murray Hart says:

    Hi Ned, Charlotte,

    I knew of a farm in New Zealand where whey was disposed of regularly (spread to pasture), which caused numerous problems with imbalanced soil fertility – don’t know how they resolved that, except that my advice was to stop doing it! I also once visited a cheese factory in Ireland, where whey was pumped up to the top of a hill, then sprayed out down slope into a series of constructed wetlands. Top pond was pretty disgusting, but by the time the water flowed out of the bottom pond it was very clean.



  2. Joe says:

    Hey sis, got me thinking about whey. Protein derived from whey is used extensively in the supplement industry as its one of the most bioavailable types of protein for human consumption. Couldn’t find any direct figures detailing the consumption of whey related supplements, or indeed the amounts of whey required for the supplement industry per annum. Going on the basis that the supplement industry adds around $61 billion to US economy each year (google says so), whilst this includes all types of dietary supplements I conclude that whey is big business. In terms of sustainability, extracting the protein from whey is fairly energy intensive – however I did find out about this company who uses local organic farmers in Wisconsin to produce a green friendly whey product. Heres the website http://www.teraswhey.com/plant.html. So now we can all have bulging biceps and a clear conscience!!


    • Charlotte says:

      Nice one bro – thanks for the research. Seeing as we’re headed for California maybe I could get an audience with Arnie, see what he thinks about the whole thing…! I bet he’s put away a lot of whey in his time.

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