University of Wisconsin students will soon be able to bring their passions for beer, wine and cheese to the classroom, with a new certificate program in food sciences.
The certificate aims to teach students the processes of making beer, wine, yogurt, cheese and many other foods and beverages that involve fermentation, according to a UW statement.
The program will allow both degree-seeking students and members of the general public to pursue training and take courses in a field that has been gaining speed in the last ten years, Barry Cameron, a geology professor at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee who has helped bring the program to the UW system, said.
“[This program] means a great deal to craft brewers in Wisconsin because it’s a very vibrant and growing industry right now and the need for well-trained and knowledgeable employees is very essential to continuing that growth,” Mark Garthwaite, the Wisconsin Brewers Guild Executive Director, said.
The program also includes classes in wine-making, an industry which has been growing in the Midwest over these past few years. According to a 2011 report from the University of Minnesota, Wisconsin wine and grape growing industries have greater than $119 million impact on the state economy.
Keeping this recent winery boom in mind, Cameron said that wine would be a major focus of the certificate program.
“I think there are positive things going on and huge growths in the wine industry that we want to focus on, and I think it is true in a lot of wine regions that there’s often been a strong connection between growing wine and the region’s university,” Cameron said.
Tom Bryan, a graduate student who got his undergraduate degree from UW in microbiology, taught a fermentation seminar for two spring semesters for residents of the Aldo Leopold dormitory’s Greenhouse Learning Community.
Bryan said the fermentation program at UW would be an especially good fit because of the fermented food industry in Wisconsin. As a state that is known for its beer and cheese, Byran said, not having a fermented food system is almost embarrassing. The program is long overdue, he said.
Bryan said he took a fermentation course offered through the Food Science department, taught by Professor James Steele, who played a big role in bringing the fermentation program to UW.
Bryan said the class was 120 people from all different disciplines, a sign of how many students are interested in fermentation.
“Jim Steele gave the best example of a fermented food that people eat all the time but no one knows its fermented,” Bryan said. “Pizza. The bread has yeast, the cheese is fermented, the pepperoni is a fermented sausage. Shit, we’re all eating fermented products all the damn time.”
Future fermentation students are advised to keep their eyes peeled in the coming months, as the program is expected to be approved this fall, Cameron said. Both UW and UW – Milwaukee hope to offer courses being beginning in the 2015 spring semester.