|For A Healthy Planet
Article By Amy L.
Web Site By Thomas W.
What does yogurt
have to do with the environment? That depends on whom you ask. On February
24, 2000 we, three students from Sanborn Regional High School, accompanied
by our journalism teacher, traveled to Stonyfield Farm, a yogurt factory
located in Londonderry, NH. Our goal was to discover what the people at Stonyfield
were doing for the environment.
Stonyfield Farm started
from very modest beginnings. They began making yogurt in 1983 as a
project of the Samuel Rural Education Center in Wilton, NH; their goal was
to bring new life into the New England dairy industry and to help small farming
families. Their growth was revolutionary.
From the start they
thought they could make a positive environmental impact. After only
five years, they grew too large for a farmhouse, which had only eleven Jersey
cows. They then moved to a new location where they’ve spent ten years.
They are still growing. In 1997 they added 18,000 square feet,
and then in 2000, they cut the ribbon for 15,000 new square feet. They
finally bought the whole office building that they were previously renting.
They have a visitor’s center that has been running for eight years, which
is where we began our tour.
We had a lot of questions
about yogurt, so we decided to start off getting some answers early on in
the trip with our guide Carol Chatman. Our first question had to do
with what makes the yogurt so thick? Chatman said, "That as the milk
sits, the bacteria in the milk multiply and eat the milk sugar. That
is what makes it so thick. One cup of yogurt has 68% milk sugar.
When the yogurt comes through and is all boxed, it still isn't ready to be
shipped out, because it isn't thick enough. It must first sit in cold
refrigerators until it gets thick. Then it is shipped off, ready to be eaten."
The most important
question that we all want to know is how much yogurt is actually made by
the machines? "The machines run twelve to sixteen hours a day, and
make 240 eight-ounce cups a minute. That is between 172,800 and 230,400
cups a day! That is a lot of yogurt!" Chatman told us.
How much money does
Stonyfield make every year? If it isn't enough that they made $40,000,000
last year, that number is growing rapidly and expected to skyrocket this
While at Stonyfield
we took a tour to find out a little more about how the yogurt was made.
We saw the quality control area, where we watched the enthusiastic workers
taste testing a new flavor, which will soon be reaching the markets.
We saw where the milk truck pulls in with fresh milk each morning. Chatman
explained, "Before the milk is pumped out of the truck, it is taken into
the laboratory and tested for various things, including the pH level.
They also taste the milk to make sure it tastes okay. After about twenty
minutes of testing, the milk is approved, and pumped into the large tanks
waiting to start the yogurt making process. Milk usually is not rejected
from the factory; almost all the shipments are approved. They always check
to make sure that they can make the best quality yogurt." Quality control
is an important part in the yogurt making process.
Chatman, "They only use milk from cows that have not been injected with the
Bovine growth hormone. Most of their milk comes from St. Albens, Vermont.
The Bovine growth hormone is a FDA approved hormone, which is injected into
some cows to make them produce more milk. The problem with the hormone
is that it is not widely tested. Stonyfield Farm wants to only use
the purest, most natural milk in their yogurt, so they have taken a stand
against the using the hormone."
There are a number
of things that Stonyfield Farm is doing to help the environment. They
produce several organic products. The ingredients are grown in such
a way as to simulate the way Mother Nature grows them, by recycling nutrients,
and not using toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Stonyfield Farm has
also been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency's Waste Wise
Program. They achieve this by recycling about 70% of their waste, including
cardboard, metal, paper, plastic, and wood (used in pallets). Chatman
said, "One very unique way that Stonyfield Farm gets rid of ‘waste’, and
helps local farmers is by giving fruit waste, which drips off machines that
hold up to 2,000 pounds of fruit, to local farmers for free, to feed their
If this isn't enough,
Stonyfield Farms also invests money into projects that absorb carbon monoxide.
Stonyfield Farm also has installed a number of energy efficient devices to
cut down on energy use. Some examples are energy efficient lighting
and special hot water heating recovery systems that reuse the heat.
They have also decreased resource use in their packaging and air emissions.
Stonyfield Farm may be a growing business, but they are sure cutting back
have a unique advertising campaign to help the planet. They use the
covers of their yogurt as "billboards" to promote a healthy environment.
They have a commitment to give 10% of their profits to organizations that
help the environment. They have started and maintain the "have
a cow" program in which people adopt a cow in order to expose people to life
on a modern day farm.
have started a program in which consumers send back their yogurt cups to
the factory to be recycled into ordinary household objects. They have
published a book titled Reversing Global Warming: Offsetting Carbon Dioxide
Emissions, which is aimed towards helping businesses, decrease the negative
impact they have on the environment.
Last but not
least, Stonyfield Farm maintains a statement of rigorous goals to protect
the environment, including a deadline to "convert to renewable energy sources
50% of our facility energy use by 2002." Stonyfield Farm concludes
their impressive environmental statement saying, "If a healthy planet isn't
our business, whose business is it?"
Not only does
Stonyfield Farm make great tasting yogurt; they make healthy yogurt, happy
employees, happy consumers, and a happy environment. That is a big
accomplishment for such a little cup of yogurt!