Upholding a conservation commitment across a diverse assortment of companies is not easy. On a recent cross-country tour of all facilities Jain, I was made aware Jain is not only innovating practices and products in irrigation but also in food processing and high-end PVC building materials. Each facility offered enlightenment, fascination and motivation to do the most we can with the resources we have. Perhaps not everyone is interested in where the country gets 10-15% of its onion powder, but I thought it was pretty interesting to see what happens to onions after our irrigation tape has done its job!
The first facility I visited is our Cascade Onion Processing Plant
in Boardman, OR. This facility is responsible for turning a concentrated onion into five different mediums; while 3 are different powder types, the other two are small crunchy bits like you’d see on green bean casserole during the holidays. Unfortunately, my classic casserole will not feature these bits later this year, as the onion pieces produced here are almost 30% stronger than typically fried onion pieces. To reduce the impact of excessive transport a more concentrated version of onion is grown and used in these mixes, when tasted straight it is very…oniony.
These large hoppers are the first to see the onions arrive from cold storage or straight off the trucks.
After the onions are received, inventory and demand will dictate whether the onions are put into multiple giant refrigerators or put into these hoppers that sort and move them inside the processing facility.
Moving a lot of onions around requires extensive belts and containment areas.
A multitude of quality control procedures are used to ensure a perfect product every time.
Inside, every single onion is inspected for imperfections before processing. Bruises, spots, and onions that don’t meet the ‘mustard’, are put aside and recycled into compost for surrounding farms.
Networks of conveyor belts move the approved onions around the facility and into the next staging areas.
After approval, the onions are moved into the final bin before shredding.
Shredded onion heads to the massive oven.
The onions are shredded to incredible consistency prior to baking. This is the point in the process where the waterworks start. Note to self: Don’t listen when the factory team says you don’t need a mask and it’s “not that bad”.
Large vacuum systems and containers move powder and organize depending on consistency.
The chopped onion is baked and turned into powder before a system of vacuums move the product into a final packaging location. This part of the process had our camera equipment crying as the sugar in the onion powder creates a very tacky substance.
The onions processed in this plant go in your McDonalds French Fries, Stouffer pre-mixes and an assortment of other foods we eat daily. In addition to the efficient process inside, we also use the methane produced from an adjacent landfill to heat our water reducing energy consumption by 30%!
The landfill adjacent to the facility creates underground methane, which we use to heat our facilities water.
If you found this interesting stay tuned, we will spotlight more Jain facilities over the coming weeks. If you’d like to read more about these adventures and water saving tips follow me on Twitter @MDSavesWater and on Instagram @jainsusa.