Corn Bran Takes the Cake

In Food by Cindy

cakeYou can have your cake with more fiber and less fat and eat it too – with corn bran.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service reports that white layer cakes can be made healthier by replacing some of the flour with finely ground corn bran without significantly undermining many of the qualities of this favorite treat.

Experiments done by USDA food technologist Mukti Singh determined that purified, finely ground corn bran can be used as a substitute for up to 20 percent of the flour called for in the American Association of Cereal Chemists’ “gold standard” test recipe for white cake.

The experiments found that using 20 percent corn bran fiber had no significant impact on qualities such as color or springiness and volunteer taste-tasters who sampled cake made with that amount of the fiber rated it as “acceptable” – which is good.

One slice of an 8-inch, 6-slice, two-layer white cake made with 20 percent corn bran fiber would provide about 5 grams of fiber, compared to about 1 gram from a conventional white layer cake. The USDA researcher say the corn bran recipe can be added to cakes that are prepared at commercial bakeries or to the boxed mixes sold for home bakers.

Cheerios Changes Just the Label

In Biotechnology by Cindy

General Mills made headlines last week with the announcement that that they will begin marketing original Cheerios “not made with genetically modified ingredients.”

cheeriosIn a post about the change, General Mills VP of global communications Tom Forsythe noted that it really is not a big change. “Original Cheerios has always been made with whole grain oats, and there are no GMO oats. We do use a small amount of corn starch in cooking, and just one gram of sugar per serving for taste. And now that corn starch comes only from non-GM corn, and our sugar is only non-GM pure cane sugar.”

But it’s even less of a change than that, according to Margaret Smith, Cornell University professor of plant breeding and genetics, who says Cheerios are just the same as ever.

“Corn starch and sugar are highly refined products, so they contain no DNA, which is what is introduced into a genetically engineered organism, and no protein – which is what the new DNA would produce in a genetically engineered organism,” she explains. “Because of that, corn starch and sugar from a genetically engineered corn variety are nutritionally and chemically identical to corn starch or sugar from a non-genetically engineered variety.”

Forsythe notes that General Mills’ support of GMOs remains the same, which is well-articulated in an on-line company position statement that links to a separate website on Facts about GMOS.

The reason General Mills made the “change” and announced it as they did is really simple – money. “We did it because we think consumers may embrace it,” said Forsythe. Chances are the “new” Cheerios will actually be more expensive, as another company spokesman quoted in the Wall Street Journal said it “required significant investment” to make the changes to the original cereal and that it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to make other varieties without GMOs.

Time will tell if the cereal will be more expensive and if GMO-fearful consumers will pay the price. The bigger question is what message this will send to the general public if all they hear is that one of the nation’s largest food companies is going GMO-free.

New Years Resolution: Protect the RFS

In Ethanol by Cindy

mocornAs you are making your list of 2014 New Year’s Resolutions, one of them should be to do your part to help protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Unless your voice is heard, the Environmental Protection Agency will approve its proposal made on November 15 to cap corn-based ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply this year at 13 billion gallons, cutting 1.4 billion gallons from what it was supposed to be under the law.

The comment period on the proposal is open until January 28. If you believe the RFS is working as intended, if it has helped you personally and/or your rural community, if you think it is good for America that we have more renewable fuels, not less – let the EPA know.

The National Corn Growers Association has information on how to submit comments and drafts of possible comments that you can personalize – your story is what matters. You can also write your own letter, if you prefer, and send it to:

Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T
Air and Radiation Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Watch this great video by the Missouri Corn Growers that tells “the greatest story never told” – Quiet Revolution: The Ethanol Story.

Share Your Stories with the Smithsonian

In agribusiness, Education by Cindy

si-archivesA new exhibit is being developed for the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History that presents the history of agriculture in our nation from a business perspective. Part of the development process is a website that is collecting and archiving stories and photos about the progress of American agriculture through the years.

Curator Peter Liebhold says they created the Agriculture Innovation Heritage Archive to preserve, document and make available the story of American agriculture. “It’s a real easy-to-use site where you can browse what other people have said or you can contribute your own stories,” he said. “What we want people to do is tell us their experiences – maybe a story about walking the beans or a story about the rise of GPS – anything they think is important.” He also encourages farmers and ranchers to submit photos to accompany their stories.

One of the stories
I found on the site was “Obery Farms: A family farm in Central Illinois, 1874-Present” which relates the family farm history of Paul and Catherine Obery who immigrated to the United States from France in 1874 and purchased 127 acres of land for $45 an acre. Two sixth generation Obery sons still maintain the centennial farm.

It will be interesting to see the finished physical exhibition, which is scheduled to open in 2015, but this “virtual” version is a great resource for everyone to learn about the great American Enterprise of agriculture.

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In General by Cindy

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let’s take a look at the sales drivers

In General by Cindy

Now, let’s take a look at the sales drivers of the third quarter. Bridal, which is a strategic focus of ours, grew faster than Signet’s overall rate of sales. The bridal business is a stable grower and insulates us from some of the volatility that traditional retailers face.

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Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken

In General by Cindy

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In General by Cindy

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In General by Cindy

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In General by Cindy

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