Probiota Champions: In conversation with Nancy Hamren

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Probiota Champions: In conversation with Nancy Hamren

Related tags Probiotics Probiota americas Yogurt

Talking to Nancy Hamren is a delight. In the space of 23 minutes she mentioned One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, being the first yogurt sold in the US to contain live probiotics, Huey Lewis, and the International Probiotics Association…

Nancy’s Yogurt was the first yogurt sold in the US to contain live probiotics when Lactobacillus acidophilus​ was added to the yogurt being produced at Springfield Creamery in Oregon in 1970.

In a wide-ranging interview with NutraIngredients-USA for its recent Probiota Americas Probiota Champions​ video series​, Hamren explained how a Bay Area native arrived in the Pacific Northwest and how they started making a probiotic yogurt at that “hopeful, exciting, idealistic time”​.

“I had befriended Ken Kesey, who had written One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and he went to England to meet The Beatles and asked Gordon and I if we move up to the farm and take care of it while he was gone for six months.

“Ken’s brother Chuck Kesey and his wife Sue had a little creamery in Springfield and they were looking for a person to run the office. I had been working on some yogurt [at home], improving it, trying different batches, different butter fats, different solids, different culture strains, and Chuck got me a strain of ​acidophilus, which was the only thing available at that time… [Chuck had learned about it at Oregon State University.]

“Chuck said, ‘let’s try making this yogurt here at the creamery’. I was their first yogurt maker. We worked on it together.”

“After just a few years, ​bifidum became available so we jumped on it. In the meantime, ​casei and ​rhamnosus and LGG, BB12, La-5… we added different strains as we read the research on them and realize how valuable they are,” ​said Hamren.

The future

Looking ahead, Hamren said she is always curious about new strains with conditions like IBS something that nothing really seems to work on.

“Maybe the hope can be that people with IBS, that it can be alleviated by something that hasn’t been discovered yet or hasn’t been completely sussed out,” ​she said.

To watch the full interview, please click below.

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