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Hummus, Whey, LEGOs and Wine

Posted by | February 4, 2011

From Field to Table: WSU, SBDC help Local Company Take on Growing Hummus Market

Heath Barnes
Heath Barnes

Watching Washington-grown chickpeas make a round trip to the Midwest or the East Coast and back to the local grocery shelf as hummus inspired WSU alum Heath Barnes (Agriculture Econ ’00) to explore producing hummus locally.

Barnes and his business partner Tish Ghigleri developed several hummus recipes that were well-received by family and friends, but with limited resources and no manufacturing experience, they were uncertain how to turn their idea into a viable business.

Barnes developed a vision and business plan, and entered the 2009 Business Plan Competition held by WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, aiming for the Port of Whitman’s $10,000 first prize.

Impressed by their presentation and concept, the judges awarded first place to Barnes and Ghigleri. Their dream took flight, and the Bronzestone Corporation was born.

The next stop was the office of Professor Richard Dougherty in WSU’s School of Food Science, where issues of manufacturing, packaging, labeling and food safety were addressed and resolved.

With a delicious, locally supplied product in hand, a manufacturing process perfected, and an expanding market waiting for them, all that was left was to find investment and financing. Enter the Small Business Development Center to assist with cash-flow models, financial projections and investor proposals.

These efforts paid off: private investors provided more than $500,000 in venture and equity capital, and a bank operating line of credit is being secured. A Port of Whitman County facility was available for lease, and the Bronzestone processing plant started production in May 2010.

Barnes and Ghigleri credit WSU and particularly the SBDC for helping them realize their dream. “The (efforts of the) SBDC were an integral part of getting our business of the ground. I think it is a great resource.”

By Matt Haugen, WSU News

Check out the video version of this story at For more information on WSU’s partnerships with economic development, please visit the EDGE Web site at and

Whey Supplemented Beverages Lower Blood Pressure

Susan Fluegel
Susan Fluegel

Beverages supplemented by whey-based protein can significantly reduce elevated blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease, a WSU study has found.

Research led by nutritional biochemist Susan Fluegel and published in “International Dairy Journal” found that daily doses of commonly available whey brought a more than six-point reduction in the average blood pressure of men and women with elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressures. While the study was confined to 71 student subjects between the ages of 18 and 26, Fluegel says older people with blood pressure issues would likely get similar results.

“One of the things I like about this is it is low cost,” says Fluegel, a nutritional biochemistry instructor interested in treating disease through changes in nutrition and exercise. “Not only that, whey protein has not been shown to be harmful in any way.”

Terry Shultz, co-author and an emeritus professor in the former Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, said the findings have practical implications for personal health as well as the dairy industry.

Whey supplments, a new study finds, can reduce blood pressure -- and add value to a cheese byproduct.
Whey supplments, a new study finds, can reduce blood pressure -- and add value to a cheese byproduct.

“These are very intriguing findings, very interesting,” he said. “To my knowledge, this hasn’t been shown before.”

The supplements, delivered in fruit-flavored drinks developed at the WSU Creamery, did not lower the blood pressure of subjects who did not have elevated pressure to begin with. That’s good, said Fluegel, as low blood pressure can also be a problem.

Other studies have found that blood-pressure reductions like those seen by Fluegel can reduce cardiovascular disease and bring a 35 to 40 percent reduction in fatal strokes.

Health benefits aside, researchers are excited about the prospect of improving the market for whey, a cheese byproduct that often has to be disposed of at some expense. Its potential economic impact is unclear, says Shannon Neibergs, a WSU extension economist, “but any positive use of that product is going to be beneficial.”

Several supplement makers contributed product to the study, which was funded in part by the Washington Dairy Products Commission. None of the contributors had a role in analyzing the data or writing the report.

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

A Taste of History and The LEGO Kid

Warren Seeley is The LEGO Kid
Warren Seeley is The LEGO Kid

Future Coug Warren Seely grew up on a mint farm where he designs and builds models of farm equipment, but his projects aren’t kid stuff. Warren makes working scale models of potato diggers, tractors, and much more. Check out this short video to learn why Warren’s “toys” are used in classrooms at WSU and elsewhere:

And for a taste of the history of Washington wine — and a look into the future — check out this short video on the history of Washington wine featuring Dick Boushey, Ted Baseler, Kay Simon, Wade Wolfe and Bill Powers: