Raise Your Spoon

Didion-Cereal-Logo-Spoon

Happy (belated) National Cereal Day!

At Didion, National Cereal Day is one of our favorite holidays. Why? Because many of our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products go into national cereal brands. Besides being naturally gluten-free and very cost-effective, corn brings a sweet, nutty flavor and gives cereal that crispy crunch.

Last year on national cereal day, we shared with you what certain corn products bring to the table as cereal ingredients. This year we’re going to dive a bit deeper into one specific product – corn bran.

Made from the outer layer of the corn kernel, corn bran is a low-calorie, low-fat food that offers numerous health benefits. It is a great source of protein and B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

Corn bran also allows for the addition of consistent, high-quality, total dietary fiber. This insoluble fiber is a food-grade, chemical-free, natural product that is light in color with a slightly nutty taste. It’s the perfect fiber additive: a low-fat, low-cost alternative to other grain fiber products.

So next time you’re enjoying a delicious bowl of cereal, take a peek at the ingredients. Maybe your favorite cereal has some Didion corn bran in it!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Didion Milling

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Feeding & Fueling the World Together

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Zoey Brooks, Wisconsin’s 67th Alice in Dairyland, visited Didion Milling and Ethanol on Tuesday morning to learn about how locally-grown corn is processed into food, feed and fuel products that are used in our local communities, across the country and around the world.

As Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador, Alice in Dairyland strives to educate audiences across Wisconsin about the $59 billion economic impact and importance of our state’s diverse agriculture industry in our daily lives. Corn, as Wisconsin’s second largest agricultural commodity by cash receipts, is an important part of Alice in Dairyland’s story.

Zoey took a stroll down fermentation alley in the ethanol plant, inspected samples in Didion’s labs and explored various granulations of milled corn. While touring our facilities, she learned how corn is fractionated in our dry corn mill, then sorted for its best use in food and fuel production. For more information about how we maximize the kernel of corn in our two facilities, check out the Corn Milling 101 series on our blog.

During her year as Alice in Dairyland, Zoey drives a flex-fuel vehicle wrapped in graphics promoting ethanol production. Here are some of facts she shares about ethanol as she fuels up with E85 during her travels around the state:

  1. Provides a lot of jobs. A study done by ABF Economics found that the 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2013 created 86,503 jobs and supported an additional 300,277 indirect and induced jobs.
  2. Lower cost of fuel for everyone. A report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University found that ethanol supplying about 10 percent of our fuel has reduced the price at the pump by more than $1.00 per gallon.
  3. More than fuel. One bushel of corn (56 lbs.) can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17-18 pounds of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). These are an important co-product of ethanol production and a common livestock feed.
  4. Improves the air quality of motor emissions. A study from the University of Nebraska found that ethanol reduces emissions by almost 60 percent.
  5. Decreases U.S. dependence on imported petroleum. Since 2008 net petroleum imports have fallen by one third and are continuing to decrease to the lowest level in 20 years.

Click here to learn more about Alice in Dairyland.

By: Adam Lemmenes, Plant Manager at Didion Ethanol

Let Them Eat Cake

whitecake2It’s a new year and most of us have made resolutions to eat healthier. But it seems like we’ve just survived the holiday eating frenzy when . . . here comes Valentine’s Day, full of heart-shaped goodies.

However there is a simple way to add healthy value to foods without altering the taste – corn bran. It’s a natural and nutritious way to add whole grain appeal to food products and is a great source of fiber.

Corn bran allows for the addition of consistent, high-quality, total dietary fiber. This insoluble fiber is a food-grade, chemical-free, natural product that is light in color with a slightly nutty taste. It’s the perfect fiber additive: a low-fat, low-cost alternative to other grain fiber products.

But can you get that fiber without sacrificing flavor?

The National Corn Growers Association recently posted a great article on the subject via their blog Corn Commentary, called ‘Corn Bran Takes the Cake’.

It touched on the USDA’s research that found replacing 20 percent of flour in a classic white cake recipe with highly ground corn bran provided the optimal balance of fiber and flavor.

It turns out you really can have your cake and eat it too!

By: Jeff Dillon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Didion Milling

Didion Named “Green Master”

Green-Masters-Logo-300x200Congratulations to Didion’s Green Team for being recognized as a Green Master at the 6th Annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference!

Green Masters is Wisconsin’s largest and most-notable sustainability recognition program. It is an objective, points-based program enabling Wisconsin institutions of all sizes and industries to join a group of like-minded companies on the road to sustainability. Similar to the program name, the top 20% of applicants are called Green Masters. Other levels include Green Professional and Green Apprentice.

At Didion, we focus on constant improvement in energy efficiency and sustainability in operations. Didion Ethanol, a zero liquid discharge facility, recycles process water, using approximately 20 percent less water than the industry average with no direct discharge water into local waterways. Natural gas consumption is 5.8% lower than the industry average per unit of ethanol produced. Didion Milling reengineered its processes to reduce energy and steam usage by eliminating the need for some equipment.

Tom Eggert (left), executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council presents Green Masters Award to Tonya Umbarger (right), program manager at Didion Milling

Tom Eggert (left), executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council presents Green Masters Award to Tonya Umbarger (right), program manager at Didion Milling

In 2010, we pledged to the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over 10 years. Our sustainability team carefully monitors energy usage, streamlining processes and reducing energy demands while maintaining high quality and production standards.

It’s an honor to be recognized among the impressive group of companies in the program. We’re working towards an even more sustainable 2014!

By: Tonya Umbarger, Program Manager at Didion Milling

Gluten-Free, Naturally!

Corn is naturally gluten-free right off the stalk. That makes it the perfect ingredient in a wide variety of gluten-free applications. Corn can help increase protein levels and replace wheat protein functionality. Various grains and starches can be used to get gluten-free products closer to the desired functionality and taste profile of gluten-containing foods, but few are as cost effective and label friendly as corn.

Corn’s naturally gluten-free properties don’t guarantee that all corn products on the market are gluten free. Some are processed in a facility that handles gluten materials. Grains can become mixed to some degree in the distribution channel. It’s difficult for multi-grain manufacturers to make sure their products are wheat free. Corn, because of its distribution channel, has minimal risk of cross contamination; especially when manufactured in a gluten-free facility. Our quality assurance team tests products to make sure they’re within gluten-free guidelines as well as customer specifications.

Corn flours are a great candidate for gluten-free recipes, bringing protein and starch to the recipe. That makes it a great ingredient for pasta applications. Viscosity-controlled corn flour provides a more uniform product in kneading machines and automated dough processing equipment. Our pregels – corn flour that’s been heat and moisture treated to give it specific properties – have great binding properties and provides stabilizing functionality. It all depends on the formula you’re putting together.

Corn bran brings fiber to the label and aids in moisture retention with its high water-binding capacity. It binds water more efficiently compared to carbohydrates. It also keeps starch from leaching out during boiling.

What about corn gluten? It contains different proteins than wheat gluten. Wheat, like other cereal grains, contains more than 100 different proteins.  Two specific wheat proteins, gliaden and glutenin, have been shown to cause sensitivity. These two proteins are not found in corn. While there is a corn gluten protein, it has not been associated with the health issues caused by wheat gluten.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Going Whole Grain

Consumers are increasingly seeking healthy food products and food manufacturers are continuing to invest in research and development to meet this need. Why? Many people consume too calories and too much sugar, fat and sodium.

Among these changing product formulations is the use of whole grains. The USDA recommends that half of all grains consumed be whole grains but most Americans are barely eating one serving of whole grain per day and nine out of ten Americans aren’t getting enough whole grain.

Research shows that eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet can improve heart health, weight management and diabetes management, while reducing risks of some cancers. Additional studies have shown that children and adolescents that eat cereal for breakfast have a lower Body Mass Index and waist circumference than those who don’t eat cereal at breakfast or who skip breakfast.

Many cereal companies are trying to include whole grain more than any other ingredient at a minimum level of 10 grams per serving up to 16 grams per serving.

Another area American diets fall short is in fiber consumption. Dietary fiber is important to digestive health and can help curb hunger. Some research suggests that people who have a higher intake of fiber also tend to have a healthier body weight.

The FDA and USDA are creating new goals to improve health and nutrition claim criteria for food products. Food reformulations are also changing because food processors are responding to USDA standards for K-12 school meals, which include meeting whole grain requirements.

Consumers are reading food labels more than ever, so food manufacturers are asking for more recognizable, label-friendly ingredients, like corn.

In response to this, Didion Milling has added whole grain to their family of corn products, specifically made for the cereal market.

Another emerging whole grain need is adding fiber from whole grain ingredients into foods that people are already eating, rather than creating new whole-grain-based foods. This is especially prevalent in cereals and snack foods, both popular applications for Didion’s dry milled corn.

Whole grain corn is an economical, label-friendly way to add whole grain to products. To learn more about Didion’s whole grain corn flour visit our website.

By: Riley Didion, Sales Manager at Didion Milling