Corn for a Cause

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May 28th was World Hunger Day, bringing awareness to the 805 million people worldwide that go to bed hungry every night.

For the last 20 years Didion Milling has been producing famine relief products for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This organization provides emergency food assistance and has several programs in place that help monitor food insecurity throughout the world, save lives in times of crisis, and tackle malnutrition. In fact, about 3 billion people from over 150 countries around the world have benefited from USAID’s food assistance programs!

Did you know that corn is an important ingredient in famine relief products? We produce a total of 6 different products, but our most common ones are Corn Soy Blend Plus and Super Cereal Plus. So far, these products are being delivered to parts of Southeast and West Africa, Central America, and parts of Asia.

Corn Soy Blend Plus: CSB Plus is a highly nutritious, wholesome blended food. This a precooked blend of cornmeal and soy flour enriched with a full complement of vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent choice for famine relief! This product is a finer granulation than our Corn Soy Blend and is usually used for children under two, lactating mothers or at risk AIDS patients.

Super Cereal Plus: Super Cereal Plus is another nutrient-dense corn and soy product. However this products differs form Corn Soy Blend Plus in its ingredients – this meal is made up of heat-treated corn or cornmeal, de-hulled soybeans, nonfat dry milk, refined soybean oil, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Super Cereal Plus is also designed to be ready-to-use and intended for young children under 2 years old as a complement to breastfeeding.

Chronic hunger affects more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined. Food assistance is one of the ways that we can start to lessen this problem.

To learn more about our partners on the frontline of the hunger fight, visit the following websites:

By: David Silver, Corporate Controller & USDA Program Coordinator

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Raise Your Spoon

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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

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

The Customer Service Experience

As Didion’s customer service manager, my personal goal is to make every one of our customers feel like number one. Whether they purchase one pallet of HarvestGold® corn products every three months or three loads of product in one day, each customer is important to me and Brenda Link, our customer service specialist.

The customer service team of Karyn (left) and Brenda (right)

The customer service team: Karyn (left) and Brenda (right)

I’ve been at Didion for seven years and every day is different – a phone call or email can change the flow of the entire day.

Generally, we start off every morning on a call with the sales and marketing team, followed by a production meeting with employees from maintenance, mill, quality assurance, pack, engineering and company president Dow Didion.

We’re also constantly monitoring and acknowledging orders for products, using our updated system Orders@DidionMilling.com. As the number and volume of orders increased, we updated our email system so that all orders were compiled into one place. However it still has that personal touch – our commitment to our customers is that Brenda or I will personally acknowledge every order.

Our main focus every day is our customers’ needs. We want our customers to come to us for anything they need – even if we don’t know the answer right away, we’ll do everything in our power to find out for them.

We’re proud that customer service is one of the things that set us apart. Great people, excellent products and exceptional service – that’s the Didion Difference.

By: Karyn Hickman, Customer Service Manger at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: IFT ’14 Part 2

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Jeff, Riley & I at the Didion booth

Another IFT is in the books! Though this wasn’t my first time at the show, it was my first time attending IFT as part of the Didion team. I enjoyed talking with attendees about our new yeast protein products and their potential in the food and flavor industry.

We also had some great conversations focused on the newest addition to our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products, whole grain corn flour. It was the featured product in our Big Easy Breakfast Beignet, a special corn ingredient application we created for the IFT show in New Orleans. As Jeff mentioned last week, the beignets were made fresh at the booth by renowned New Orleans chef Frank Sclafani. The beignets were so popular that we actually ran out before the show was over!

If you weren’t able to make the show or try our Big Easy Breakfast Beignet, take a look at this video of Chef Frank and Jeff as they make and sample this delicious twist on a New Orleans classic.

By: Chris Gudaitis, Business Development Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: IFT ’14 Part 1

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Day 2 of IFT is in full swing here at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans! Riley, Chris, Katie and I are at booth 4248, talking whole grain and how Didion takes a fresh look a corn.

Renowned chef Frank Sclafani is also at our booth, serving up Didion’s twist on a New Orleans classic – the Big Easy Breakfast Beignet.

Crispy, savory and healthy, it features andouille sausage, onion, celery and red bell pepper and is served with a creamy mustard sauce or remoulade. This savory whole grain breakfast beignet features Didion’s HarvestGold® whole grain corn flour and corn bran, while the mustard sauce contains our corn bran and pregelatinized corn flour and the remoulade includes corn bran.

If you’re at IFT this week be sure to stop by and see us for an authentic New Orleans breakfast.

Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for live updates from the show.

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

A Tribute to Dads Who Make a Difference

Father’s Day is a time to recognize and celebrate our dads and other male leaders in our families. A family-owned business provides the opportunity to recognize and celebrate these family role models in our lives every day.

John & Dow Didion

Brothers Dow and John Didion

More than 40 years ago my dad and my uncle started Didion Milling. The company today looks completely different than the company they started in the early 1970s. From grain elevators and corn milling to biofuels and beyond the company has gone through significant growth and changes. They have seen good times and challenging times, 8 different presidents and administrations and 4 major recessions.

Through all of the change that has taken place in the company and the country, the founding core values of John and Dow have remained steadfast. From the beginning they were never satisfied with status quo, continuously improving the process and the way industry could view grain merchandising. They were the first to load rail and barge in the state of Wisconsin and assisted in creating an export market for Wisconsin farmers. That same passion has continued today through the combination of our mill and biofuels plant. Their passion for the industry, the farmers and the team at Didion has been a constant and contagious presence that has allowed for a company in South Central Wisconsin to impact lives throughout the world.

As a son and nephew, an employee and a team member, I am most proud of their integrity in how they have led the company.  Life and business will continually present opportunities and challenges and it is the way that we respond to those challenges that matters most. Having the integrity to do the right thing can be difficult, but it’s essential for creating an atmosphere of trust, respect and growth.

To my dad, uncle and all of the other men out there who make are making a difference, Happy Fathers Day!!

By: Riley DidionSales Manager at Didion Milling

A Corny Kickoff to Grilling Season

Memorial Day weekend is the big kick off to grill-out season; a time filled with barbecues, family get-togethers, burgers and Didion’s favorite thing – corn!Charcoal-Grill-embers

There are many ways that you and your family can enjoy corn this summer: corn on the cob, cornbread, hushpuppies and . . . charcoal?

Yes it’s true! When you get the charcoal out to grill you’re using corn, usually in the form of pregelatinized (precooked) yellow corn flour. Corn is commonly used in charcoal as a binding agent to help the briquettes retain their shape so they’re easy to use.

Next time you’re grilling a burger or steak ’til it’s just right, remember the crucial part that corn played in your grilled perfection.

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!

By: Katie Dogs, Public Relations Manager at Didion Milling

Tales From the Road: Great Lakes IFT

logoGreetings from Battle Creek, Michigan!

Trade show season has officially begun and Jeff and I are at the Great Lakes IFT Suppliers’ Exhibit, talking about our HarvestGold Family of Corn Products. We’d love to show you a sample of our products, including the newest product line addition – whole grain corn flour.

If you’re in town for the show, stop by and see us! We’ll be at booth #18.

To learn more about Great Lakes IFT, visit their website.

By: Riley DidionSales Manager at Didion Milling

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Corn Milling 101 Part 5: Corn Properties in Baking

Corn flour is an important ingredient in many foods found on the shelves of your local grocery store. Why is it so great?

Three types of corn are commonly used as a bakery ingredient: yellow corn, white corn and alkali-processed corn. We’ll focus on the type that Didion processes – yellow dent corn.CornBreadMuffins_DT

Yellow corn flour’s short-texture proteins give baked goods a crumblier feel than traditional wheat flour. Corn also adds a sweet, nutty flavor to recipes – perfect for breads, muffins or adding in to other recipes.

In addition to taste and texture properties, yellow corn flour has a number of health benefits for those who require a gluten-free diet. Corn is naturally gluten-free – because it does not contain gliaden or glutenin, the two specific wheat proteins that have been shown to cause sensitivity to gluten. Yellow corn flour brings protein and starch to recipes without causing sensitivity, making them perfect for gluten-free baking.

It has great taste, texture and nutritional benefits. It is a simple, recognizable ingredient on nutrition labels. No wonder yellow corn flour is found in many products on your grocery store shelves. It’s naturally good, made great!

By: Todd Giesfeldt, Mill R&D Senior Manager