Greek Yogurt's Dark Side
"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."
I can think of a few uses for whey, but not necessarily in such great quantities.
1. A pig ranch near my home *advertises* "whey-fed pigs" like the meat is something special. Haven't tried any, though.
2. Lactofermentation pickling (if the whey isn't TOO acidic and has live cultures).
3. Can't they make ricotta cheese from it? Not sure if it would taste good, but worth a try.
Could the acidity be balanced by adding sweetener or a "base" (like baking soda)?
Salad dressing ingredient instead of vinegar? Ranch dressing is based on buttermilk. How different is acid whey?
Meat marinade? Many Indian marinades start out with yogurt; if it works all right, I imagine whey would be MUCH cheaper and add a similar tang.
I wonder how many solids they'd have if they removed all the water? Water is nature's original recyclable resource!
I found this article fascinating. It will be interesting to see who comes up with the best solutions. You'd think the makers of Greek yogurt would want to be the heroes here...but if the farmer winds up discovering a "whey" to turn this byproduct into electricity and more.. more power to them!
Just another example of excess, success, new mess. Let's hope there are motivated, smart, eager folks out there looking for the next X project to solve a growing issue. The byproduct could be the next moneymaker.
When I enjoy Greek yogurt later today, I'll be looking at my spoon differently.
Similar topic based on an NPR story
"Whey-ty" problem: disposing of Greek yogurt whey has economic and environmental implications
This yogurt whey is more acidic, so isn't a direct substitute for cheese whey. That article focued on the Fage plant in a small town in upstate NY.