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Howling Cow: from pasture to cone

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Howling Cow: from pasture to cone
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Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 12:44 am
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Howling Cow: from pasture to cone
Kaitlin Montgomery, Staff Writer

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Gracing the face of cones, cups and cartons, N.C. State’s Howling Cow products go through an intense process to turn milk into breakfast staples and after-dinner delights.the north face outlet online sale
Gary Cartwright, director of the Dairy Enterprise System, said it’s difficult to get consumers to understand that Howling Cow has much more to offer than just ice cream.the north face outlet online
“We have people who have been working on campus for 30 years and they walk in here and never knew there was anything like this on campus,” Cartwright said.the north face sale
Located in Schaub Hall, the Howling Cow processing plant buzzes throughout the week with students, professors and other employees each playing a necessary role in the pasteurization and production of Howling Cow products. the north face outlet online
Tuesday, Friday and sometimes Thursday mornings, the plant produces fluid milk, while Wednesdays are set aside for ice cream. Tanker trucks pull into the plant at 2 a.m. every day, bringing milk from N.C. State’s dairy farm on Lake Wheeler. 
“We start off early,” Cartwright said. “It’s about as local as it gets.”
Pumped in directly from the tanker trucks, the milk goes through a machine that separates the milk into types such as skim and whole. Each type of milk is still raw at the point of pumping and requires pasteurization to eliminate the pathogenic bacteria that might be in it.
“It goes from the pumping system and is completely on the raw side of pasteurization,” Cartwright said. “This way if there is any bacteria the sugar and its ingredients [for chocolate milk] are pasteurized right along with the milk.”
Cartwright said that the half pints produced at the plant are shipped to state institutions such as mental health hospitals and prisons. The bags and boxes of chocolate, 1 percent, skim and whole milk are shipped to the various dining halls across campus. 
According to Cartwright, the plant is relatively modern, but many of the machines are slated for renovation.
“A lot of things are going to be rearranged in here with more things being up-to-date,” Cartwright said. “With new machinery we can do things like Howling Cow yogurt, which we can’t do now. With the new tanks we get, we can have the capability to do things like that — things that the dining hall would like us to have.”
Updated machinery would allow the plant to take Howling Cow ice cream to a premium level. With an 80 percent overrun — one gallon of milk makes 1.84 gallons of ice cream — the plant runs a very high quality of 14 percent butterfat.
“The higher percent of butterfat, the better character the flavor is,” Cartwright said. “Two reasons why you have high-quality ice cream: one is keeping the ice as small as possible and the other is injecting air into it.”
According to Cartwright, the production process is very hands-on, so the plant relies on heavy student involvement.
“[Students] help us a lot, all the while getting some practical experience while they’re here,” Cartwright said. “We’re very pleased with how things work even if it is a very unusual operation.”
The Dairy Enterprise System is a revenue generating operation, which means it uses profits to pay all bills, salaries and retirements without any assistance from taxpayers. 
“We’ve created jobs in North Carolina by being here,” Cartwright said. “It is an industrial operation with no draw off of state taxes, yet it adds capability to food science and provides Howling Cow milk and ice cream to campus.”
With new projects on the horizon, Cartwright said the enterprise system is starting to all fall under one umbrella.
“We’re trying to communicate and open some portals to the public, not just about Howling Cow but education on food systems, local foods and food quality,” Cartwright said. “All these components we provide essentially demonstrate that anybody with any interest all along the way can plug in. We also see it as an outlet for education not just for the students at N.C. State, but also for the population in general.”
Cartwright said the process of building an educational museum out at the farm on Lake Wheeler is already in the works. The museum will be established in a two-room building with one side exhibiting Howling Cow history and the other showcasing interactive displays for children. Cartwright said the museum will be a way for the public to see the interworking of a dairy farm.
“It’s the flagship for the other things we hope to create out there on the farm,” Cartwright said. “The final capstone piece we’re planning to build right here by Schaub.”
Straddling the crossover of the parking lot in between Schaub Hall and Resident West parking, the Dairy Enterprise System plans to build a two-story building that will house an ice cream bar, a training center and faculty offices.
“There’s no real destination for students living over in Wolf Village or those who live [in Sullivan and Lee Residence Halls] here,” Cartwright said. “They have to go to Central Campus because all they have other here are a few C-Stores and Fountain Dining Hall. This is going to be, we think, a more interactive destination for kids over on this side of campus.”
According to Cartwright, the Dairy Enterprise System will raise half of the amount necessary to start building the project and are one donor away from getting started.
“We expect that people from outside the University will come to get ice cream,” Cartwright said. “Now we’ve got a new population we can test new products on. We have a way to integrate all the different areas that are supposed to be here. Everything fits together in some culminating center.”
Cartwright said that if plans stay on schedule, the project would begin construction in late 2013 or early to mid 2014.
“People are excited about what we’re doing and we are too,” Cartwright said. “Every time we turn a corner there’s something new for us to consider. It’s so much more than just ice cream.”
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