Editors note: As a service to our readers, we provide news about the work of others in the ag utilization arena. Often, research done elsewhere complements AURI’s work. Please note that ARS is the USDA’s research arm.

Desert milk

Moooove over cows, there’s some new competition in the dairy-product aisle. Camel’s milk, cheese, ice cream — even camel chocolate — could soon hit the market.

Already sipped widely across the Arab world, the United Nations says camel’s milk has untapped potential. Herders and camel dairy operators are beginning to expand, producing fermented milk called Shubat, camel’s milk cheese, and an Austrian chocolatier is launching camel milk chocolate. Slightly more salty than cow’s milk, camel’s milk contains three times the vitamin C and up to 10 times the iron content.

A camel typically produces five liters of milk a day, but experts say that with improved feed, husbandry and veterinary care, daily yields could increase dramatically. Improved production could also provide economic opportunity for nomadic camel herders.

From: BBC News, April 28, 2006

Ethanol big in China

The Chinese like ethanol. According to the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission, 20 percent of the nation’s total gasoline consumption comes from ethanol. The State Council has chosen nine provinces to burn ethanol gasoline in a pilot clean-fuel consumption project. Plants in those provinces can produce 10.2 million tons of ethanol a year. From: SinoCast, March 3, 2006

Feeling blue

When it comes to heart health, it may pay to think blue. Researchers at the University of Maine have discovered that blueberries help strengthen blood vessels against factors that lead to heart disease. Already touted as one of nature’s super foods, blueberries have been shown to lower cholesterol, protect against cancer and help with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

From: Food Navigator.com, April 27, 2006

Toast and soybeans

Toast may have a new topper. Purdue University students won first prize in the 2006 Soybean Utilization Contest for their soy-pectin jam. Soy Spreads All-Natural Jams uses soy-hull pectin developed for the Purdue and Indiana Soybean Board contest. Soybean hulls’ advantage in pectin production is they are easy to transport and store. Traditional pectin sources — citrus peels and apple pomace — must be dried before they are transported. Soy Spreads come in three flavors.

From: Soyatech.com, March 28, 2006

Cancer chasing legumes

Alfalfa, peas, soybeans and other legumes may host compounds that fight cancer. Australian researchers at the ARC Center of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research have identified compounds in legumes that potentially prevent blood supplies to tumors. Without blood, the tumors stop growing and may regress. The compounds are derived from legume interaction with soil bacteria.

From: Soyatech.com, April 10, 2006

Skinny spuds

Nine years of research by British scientists has yielded a ‘slimming’ potato. Known as the Vivaldi, the potato contains half the calories of traditional potatoes and about one-third less carbohydrates, but still has normal levels of vitamin C and other nutrients. The Vivaldi should be popular with low-carbohydrate dieters when it starts showing up in supermarkets. February 7, 2006, From: BBC News

Fuel in the frig

Save those orange peels. With escalating gas prices, they may help fill up the tank on the cheap.

Researchers at the USDA-ARS Citrus and Subtropical Products Laboratory in Florida have found citrus peels may be a petroleum substitute. Citrus waste is high in pectin and cellulose that can be hydrolyzed into sugars and fermented into alcohol. Florida alone produces 1.2 million tons of dried peel residues each year. Most is used as cattle feed. Thanks to a modified process, the citrus waste may be economically processed into fruit-based ethanol.

Not to be outdone, veggies are also vying for the gas tank. ARS researchers have produced ethanol from pea starch. The legumes can be fermented to produce alcohol, although at a lower rate than corn. As with corn, the leftovers can be used as livestock feed.

From USDA-ARS, March 28, 2006

Farming for sturgeon

Fish farmers may finally be cashing in on years of research perfecting techniques for raising sturgeon, which produce eggs sold as caviar.

A University of California Davis marine scientist has tested a technique, which originated in the former Soviet Union, to culture and breed sturgeon under controlled conditions.

A California farm that is using the technique raises tens of thousands of sturgeon in circular tanks. Workers wash, grade, weigh and salt the precious eggs that sell worldwide for up to $70 an ounce.

Wild sturgeon can live 100 years and don’t even begin producing eggs until they are 15-20 years old. Special feeding and other methods have reduced that to 8-10 years. Farmed caviar struggles to compete with wild eggs because, among the world’s elite, the rarer the caviar, the better.

From: BBC News, April 28, 2006