Skip to content

Elsewhere in ag utilization

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.

Bond, bacteria, bond

The tiny, gut-dwelling bacteria that break down fiber in cows and other herbivores’ diets could one day find their way into furniture and other wood products.

An ARS scientist has discovered that the sticky outer coating these microbes secrete is an ideal base for a wood “glue.”

Through fermentation, the adhesive residue becomes strong enough to bind wood products such as plywood and particleboard. The biologically-based glue can withstand moisture and may replace up to 45 percent of traditional adhesives in some wood products.

One source of the bacterial residues is ethanol production.

Source: USDA-ARS, July 20, 2004

Soy wipes up

Cleaning up graffiti just got a whole lot easier with a new soybean-based wipe. Soy Technologies has developed SoyGreen¨ Graffiti Wipes, a towelette that removes everything from lipstick to paint.

The one-sided wipes have an abrasive texture and are saturated with methyl soyate. The moderately-strong solvent is environmentally safe and the wipes are non-toxic, biodegradable and non-flammable. They may replace petroleum-based mineral spirits that are widely used in graffiti clean-up.

Source: Biobased Solutions, July 2004

Video veggies

Some elementary school students are eating more fruits and veggies because of a new computer game.

Behavioral nutrition scientists at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas designed the “Squire’s Quest.” The game features “Kingdom of 5a lot,” which is invaded by snakes and moles attempting to destroy fruit and vegetable crops. The king and queen enlist the help of student “squires” who face challenges related to drinking more juices and eating more fruits and vegetables. The squires gain points by preparing recipes in a virtual kitchen using healthy foods.

Tested on more than 1,500 fourth-graders in Houston, the computer game resulted in a one-serving-per-day increase in fruit and vegetable consumption in only five weeks.

Source: USDA-ARS, August 6, 2004

A meaty alternative

Flavor- and texture-challenged vegetarian-protein entrees have not been favored by many fine-restaurant chefs. However, a Canadian company has developed a meat alternative that it claims feels and tastes like meat.

The high-moisture, vegetable-protein “Gardein” is being received enthusiastically by several restaurants, including Rubina Grill and Tamarind in Vancouver, Canada. The veggie protein is not billed as a meat substitute on the menu, but presented on its own merits. Chef Shaffeen Jamal of Rubina says the new protein is a “giant leap” for vegetarian cuisine.

Source: Soyatech, July 1, 2004

Saved by the wild spud

The wild Mexican cousins of U.S. domestic potatoes may save America’s favorite veggie from its worst enemy – late blight.

ARS scientists have found a gene from the wild spud helps shrug off attacks by microbes that cause late-blight disease. Through breeding, researchers were able to identify the gene that resists the blight. The resistance gene can be hybridized with the domesticated tubers to produce potatoes less likely to be affected by the disease.

Source: USDA-ARS, August 9,2004

Biodegradable telly

It wraps around your wrist, is waterproof, lets you make phone calls and access the internet. Best of all, it’s biodegradable. Called the Tag, this flexible phone is almost market ready after years of research by NEC Designs of Tokyo. Tag is made with a biodegradable polymer that breaks down to organic matter once the phone is discarded.

Source: Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, July 27, 2004

Hola biodiesel

Renewable-fuel production is not just a Midwestern pursuit. Two biodiesel plants are being planned in Puerto Rico that would use recycled cooking oil and grease as feedstocks. One facility is designed to produce 15 million gallons per year; the other will generate 4 to 6 million gallons.

The engineering firms designing the two plants say the island nation doesn’t produce enough cooking oil to support the biodiesel capacity, so the companies will likely need to purchase raw commodities from mainland U.S. sources.

Source:, August 17, 2004

Double scoop of antioxidants

Ice cream connoisseurs “down under” can eat to their health, thanks to grape extracts. An Australian company is marketing polyphenol extracts, derived from the seeds and fruit of grapes left over from winemaking.

The nutraceutical ingredient is being added to a low-fat ice cream called Chocollo, sold at nearly 300 Wendy’s Ice Cream franchises in Australia.

Polyphenols have antioxidant characteristics that have been shown to aid in heart health, cancer prevention and act as anti-inflammatory agents.

Source:, July 26, 2004

Low-carb soy

Two snack food makers have developed products to help their companies rebound from losses because of consumers’ growing appetites for low-carbohydrate foods. UTZ Quality Foods and Snyder’s of Hanover have created soy-based products such as Soy-Teins and Carb-Fix Pretzel Sticks that meet Aktins and South Beach diet requirements.

Both companies felt a sales bite when consumers started shunning carbo-laden snacks such as potato chips and pretzels. Both UTZ and Snyder’s plan to keep their traditional snack line in addition to the soy-based, low-carb line.

Source: York Daily Record, August 10, 2004