The Weird Consequence Of Your Greek Yogurt Habit

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Yes, greek yogurt is delicious, nutritious, and surprisingly cost-effective. But, we admit we'd never really thought about this consequence of making it our go-to breakfast snack.

It turns out that one of the byproducts of greek yogurt production is a little thing called acid whey. It's a runny substance that is remarkably bad for the environment: If acid whey is dumped, its decomposition can deplete ecosystems of oxygen, killing fishy inhabitants. But, with the continuously growing popularity of that delicious yogurt — it now accounts for $2 billion of the $6 billion yogurt market — finding an ecologically responsible way of getting rid of acid whey is becoming an increasingly crucial problem to solve. 

Luckily, a few researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are on it. At the Center for Dairy Research, investigators are working to find practical applications for acid whey that might actually make it useful. First, they're using fancy filters to separate out each individual component. 

One of them — lactose — could be of particular interest to food companies. So, the researchers say they may be able to find a way to isolate it in the yogurt production process itself. From there, they'll keep looking for more usable components. Whey to go, guys!

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the researchers were from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. 
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