Supporting two cotton sustainability projects currently implemented at New Mexico State University (NMSU), Tom Wede-gaertner, Director of Cottonseed Research and Marketing for Cotton Incorporated, has worked with the Oregon State University Food Inno-vation Center to create six flavor-infused culinary cottonseed oils.
“I wanted a food product made from the cotton plant that would not only strengthen the tie between cotton and sustainability but that would also showcase cotton as a viable food source,” he says.
Wedegaertner worked with Botham Brands to create the Acala Farms brand and produce the product.
“Botham Brands is a Wisconsin winery, so it has in-depth experience dealing with the insuring, labeling and shipping of these types of products,” he says.
The official launch for the first six of the flavored cooking oils, which includes Fresh Cilantro, Smokey Chipotle and Fresh Roasted Garlic among others, was held at last month’s Leyendecker Plant Science Center Centennial Field Day on the campus of NMSU during the official New Mexico Centennial Celebration.
As a national network of retail outlets is being built, sales continue at www.acala-farms.com.
Positioning Cotton As A Food Source
“Since the development of Ultra Low Gossypol Cottonseed, Cotton Incorporated has worked to position cotton as more than just a source for one of the world’s most natural fibers,” says Wedegaertner.
Cotton Incorporated has funded research to reduce gossypol levels in the plant’s seed while allowing it to remain at normal levels in the plant itself since 1993. The goal was reached after researchers at Texas A&M University successfully utilized a “gene-suppression technology” (used in the medical field) to accomplish the goal.
“Traditional cottonseed oil is actually flavor-neutral, so it doesn’t overpower the flavors of foods cooked in it,” says Wedegaertner. Cottonseed oil has a high smoke point, zero cholesterol and trans-fat and is also rich in antioxidants.
The Acala Farms-flavored cottonseed oils lend a burst of flavor to salad dressings and aioli, pasta dishes, grilled foods and as a finishing ingredient for soups and sauces. The advertising message for the oils is “Drizzle, sizzle, sample and eat.”
A History Of Research & Promotion
Since 1993, Wedegaertner has maintained a coordinated and strategic effort to increase demand for and the value of whole cottonseed and cotton gin by-products.
He has directed funding toward cooperative research that led to the development of EasiFlo cottonseed, the Power Roll Gin Stand, Hydro-Mulch Erosion Control Products and various other innovations.
“Through his creativeness, Tom’s work with cottonseed and cotton gin by-products continues to pay important dividends for cotton farmers and ginners across the Cotton Belt,” says Dr. Kater Hake, Vice President of Agricultural and Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated.
The Cotton Board, which administers Cotton Incorporated’s Research and Promotion Program, contributed information for this article. For more updates on promotional activities, go to www.cottonboard.org.