Co-Founders Kelly Coughlin and Greg Woodworth pictured above.
With a dream – and 60 tons of butternut squash seed – what started as a cookie company in Boston grew into Stony Brook Wholehearted Foods. Nowadays, Stony Brook makes artisanal seed oils, seed snacks, and protein powder all based out of the Finger Lakes. We spoke with co-founder Greg Woodworth to talk about local food, the process of oil pressing, and what it means to be a trailblazer in both the culinary and sustainability world.
When Greg set out to start Stony Brook, there wasn’t really anything like it. With the help of Cornell University’s food science department, Greg and his team designed a method to turn local seeds to oil without chemicals or outsourcing any part of the process.
For Stony Brook, it starts and ends with a waste stream. They source their seeds (currently Hemp, Pumpkin, and Butternut Squash for their oils) from farms in Central New York. The seeds arrive already dried and cleaned by the farmer. Then it’s into steel roasters – think small batch coffee roasters – to bring out the flavor of the seeds. Greg and his team use the “expeller press” method, which is chemical-free and results in an oil that maintains its natural taste and nutrients. Finally, it’s bottled. That’s it. Stony Brook oils go from seed to oil to bottle in about a week, all in house.
However, the oil that comes out of this process only makes up about 20% of the total weight of the seeds. The other 80% could have been considered waste, but not for Greg. After having it analyzed, they found out that the press cake, which is a byproduct of the expeller press process, contains around 50% protein. “We really should find out what to do with that, too,” he chuckled, recalling these findings. This discovery led Greg and his team to start producing flours and protein powders. In this way, even the “waste” of their process has a purpose.
Ever growing, Stony Brook recently entered the world of the superfood, hemp. In the case of hemp seed (and flax), there’s no need to roast the seeds. They arrive in a dry form from the farm and simply enter the expeller press. Presently, Field Goods is the only distributor of Stony Brook’s hemp seed oil.
All this said, “when you hear the phrase “Butternut Squash Seed Oil” or “Hemp Seed Oil” for some, and it’s totally understandable, you don’t immediately have an idea of how to use it.” What should you use these oils for? What makes these oils so special? There’s a nuttiness to the flavor that makes them the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of greens or a pan of roasted vegetables. However, the oils shine over muesli, fresh fruit, or – and you’re going to have to trust Greg here – chocolate ice cream, with a little sea salt.
Greg summed it up himself: “Not only are we sourcing locally, not only are we doing it with minimal processing, without the use of chemicals or excessive heat, but we also bottle weekly. The concept of fresh oil itself is kind of odd and new, but that is what we make. Other oils sold in your friendly neighborhood grocery store certainly weren’t pressed within weeks or months.”
From seeds to oil to flour and powder, to a growing small business making a real difference for your health and the health of the planet.
“This innovative company is the only producer in the U.S. turning seed waste into sustainable culinary oils.”
This innovative company is the only producer in the U.S. turning seed waste into sustainable culinary oils. Discover how our Cornell Food Venture Center is helping this New York business grow: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/09/chance-meeting-leads-sustainable-seed-oil-and-snack-company
Posted by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University on Thursday, September 27, 2018