© 2024 Innovation Trail
The 800 pound butter sculpture of a scene off the farm (seen here on the World Dairy Business Blog) is usually the headliner at the Dairy Building of the New York State Fair.But people wait in a long line for another hot item being used to promote New York’s dairy industry: a cup of milk that costs a quarter at the dairy bar.That includes a young James Moore, who says "It’s the best chocolate milk and white milk I’ve ever tasted in my life." "The Chocolate is more chocolaty and it’s nice and cold."The milk is all whole milk, which probably helps. Chocolate milk rules overall. The milk bar serves five cups of chocolate for every cup of plain milk.Mary Ellen Chesbro, agricultural manager for the fair says the total cups served goes up every year. This year, she's hoping the milk bar will top 400,000 cups of milk out this year.The whole operation is run by a task force of volunteers from the dairy industry, from farmers to distributors. The goal is to promote New York dairy – the state’s biggest agricultural product.Seventeen-year old Dale Durant, who serves milk to fairgoers says it can get pretty busy at the counter."Really nice days there’s a lot of people here. Weekends we get really busy."So to get a taste, go when it’s raining.And keep an eye out for the other smart entrepreneurial move in the Dairy building - the Syracuse bakery selling cookies next to the milk bar.

Wegmans takes a stance on genetically modified food

Robyn Lee
via Flickr
Wegmans says federal food regulators should better identify genetically modified foods.

Upstate New York grocery store chain Wegmans has come out and said federal food regulators should develop standards and labeling practices for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Wegmans vice president for consumer affairs, Mary Ellen Burris wrote in a blog that Wegmans has been looking into genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, for about two years. She says they're receiving an increasing number of questions from customers on the matter - a thousand in the past year.

Common GMO food crops are corn, soy, canola and sugar beets. GMO means the seeds have been scientifically altered to produce higher crop yields, or be more resistant to drought and disease.

It's a controversial practice. Some see it as the future of food sustainability and a solution to global hunger. Others worry about food safety.

"It's a complex issue," Wegmans nutritionist Jane Andrews said in an interview, and the store is trying to better educate its customers.

"Many people assume GMOs are in the produce department," she explained. "They’re not, with a couple of exceptions. GMOs are fed to animals that produce our meats, eggs, poultry, seafood. Or it’s commodity crops that go into processed foods."

Currently, she said, there's no way to tell if even minor ingredients are genetically modified.

"It all involves a paper trail of documentation, but those standards need to be written about what would count as a GMO and what wouldn’t," Andrews said.

Until the Food and Drug Administration comes up with a standard for GMO and proper labeling, Andrews said, certified organic products are where to look for non-GMO ingredients.

Andrews said Wegmans won’t start labeling their food because there’s no federal standard. And she said the company only inquires about GMO use in store name brands if there are questions from consumers.

Wegmans has placed a lengthy explanation of its position and background on its website.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail