The province of Quebec has long been known for its award- winning food and drink and the many artisanal businesses and peaceful dairy farms that dot a rich and colorful landscape.
Superb climactic conditions and soil produce the ideal pasture forage for dairy cows often seen grazing freely on farms.
In a world where we are accustomed to processed everything and the biological genetic mutations that underlie these products, the sight of family farms free of pesticides and herbicides is not only welcoming but a sign of the increasing movement towards sustainable development in a province where over 10,000 dairy farm operators market up to 3,5 billion litres of milk annually with a farm gate value of over $3.35 billion.
And only the purest sheep, cow and goats milk is used by many of Qubec’s family- run businesses in the cheese ripening rooms across the province. Traditional methods have been carefully cultivated over a long history dating back to the early years of New France.
Think of soft cheeses like Camembert or semi-soft world famous Oka or the flavour of Roquefort and the many blue cheeses on the market.
And the wonderful firm ripeness of Cheddar, Gouda, or Gruyere, that range from milky to sharp in texture and taste. Or the distinctive, uniquely refined hard cheeses like Parmesan.
In fact, the over 500 specialty cheeses from the province compare with the best in the world.
But did you know there is a whole ecosystem in that wholesome wedge of cheddar you are about to savour with your favourite glass of wine?
In fact, cheese is one of the few foods that contain billions of living, metabolizing microbes and hundreds of varieties of yeast, bacteria, and filamentous fungi.
Now you don’t have to remember the old nursery rhymes to realize that when milk is coagulated to make cheese, it separates into curds and whey.
The curds go on to become cheese, and the remaining liquid, the whey, has to be disposed of – often in large quantities. Along with the billions of microbes that thrive in this ocean of organic matter.
Only 10 percent of milk (the protein known as casein) turns into curds. And, yes, an astonishing 90 percent is left as whey.
Which presents serious environmental concerns if it’s simply dumped on the ground or into the water system, killing fish and destroying aquamarine life of all kinds.
Canada produces over 535 millions of tons of cheese per year. And that translates into billions of litres of whey. A disposal problem of enormous magnitude for cheese-makers, large and small.
Large companies can afford to process whey into whey protein concentrates and whey powder to be used in sports drinks and bars.
But for most family run or mid- sized cheese makers, such investments are out of the question.
And the challenges can become enormous as one of our local cheesemakers found when a whitish-brown foam with a billowing sticky mass began to tower out of their wastewater reservoir, and, depending on the winds, would coat the nearby parking lots and pavement causing considerable embarrassment to the owners.
Desperate to dispose of the whey problem they hired trucks to haul it from their reservoir. Needless to say, this was expensive at a time of rising costs for everything from labour costs to raw milk.
The cheese-makers did their research, having made up their minds that the anti-foaming products they were using just weren’t doing the job. They needed a bioengineering company that provided solutions first.
Probiosphere is an award-winning business with a respect for all forms of life. With a mission to help companies and businesses create sustainable management of toxic waste in wastewater, it applies its expertise to seemingly insoluble problems with purely natural solutions.
Probiosphere was hired to analyze the environmental problems causing the foam – and to do it all with the power of what the ancient Greeks called synthropy. The idea was to ally the power of bacteria -mankind’s friends from the beginning of time- to collaborate in finding sustainable solutions.
The cheese makers were first advised that, in fact, the foaming itself was not a problem. It was the imbalance of the internal microbiological elements in the wastewater which led to the production of the sticky very unattractive foam coating the property.
Time to do a series of microscopic and analytic tests that would determine the quantity of organic matter in the wastewater. As well, testing was required to determine the nature of the bacterial colony in the foam and, critically, the amount of oxygen in the reservoir.
Why? The presence of filamentous bacteria, known to live in low oxygen concentrations, is normally an important signal to researchers that the causes of stable foaming have been found. These hydrophobic bacterial colonies have water resistant cell walls. As well, they thrive on low organic matter, craving fat and grease.
The results of the careful testing indicated that, indeed, the excess of filamentous bacteria due to the presence of fat and low oxygen levels in the wastewater, was the major problem.
The urgency of getting the solutions right and nature back into balance have driven the Probiosphere team to suggest sustainable solutions, rather than the procurement of expensive antifoaming agents upon which the cheese producer would always be dependent.
In the autumn issue of Business Worldwide Magazine, 2020, Probiosphere was celebrated for its innovative solutions-based sustainable treatment of wastewater challenges around the world.
For cheese producers, large and small, this was great news.
Getting that amazing ecosystem-evolving in cheese-ripening rooms around the world- back to harmonious living.
With all the organisms living in peaceful alliance, and not in deadly wars with one another.
In fact, peaceful alliance between bacteria, creating synthropy, is what Probiosphere is all about.
Leading the way for cheese-makers around the world, sustainably, and with nature as the guide.
When Dubai World Expo opened in October 2021, this magnificent city was already planning a global gathering of nations that would exceed expectations as 192 countries set up pavilions dedicated to finding solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time.
When Dubai World Expo opened in October 2021, this magnificent city was already planning a global gathering of nations...