"Most people probably don’t know what makes their jeans blue, but indigo plants and dyes have been producing our favorite color for thousands of years. In the early 20th century, chemists began making synthetic indigo dye from petroleum, which helped fuel the runaway success of denim and the blue jeans industry. But natural indigo is back in a big way, thanks to Stony Creek Colors and our friend, Sarah Bellos."
"For millennia, civilizations have extracted indigo dye from plants, creating a product that by the 18th century had become a driver of global economics. But, as the 20th century began, global output of natural indigo fell by over 90% as synthetic indigo took its place. With recent trends toward naturally derived alternatives for synthetic materials in processed foods, consumer goods, and other markets, the $427-million global market for indigo dye — whose synthetic building blocks include benzene, formaldehyde, and cyanide — represents an opportunity. Natural indigo dye and its parent agricultural crops could benefit from more than 100 years of advances in chemistry, chemical engineering, and agricultural science."
"Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are trying to make the process of making blue jeans greener, by engineering bacteria to produce the indigo dye responsible for jeans’ characteristic hue. “Indigo dying for denim is, unfortunately, a pretty dirty process,” says John Dueber, a professor of bioengineering who co-led the research, recently published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology."
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced grants to help bring agricultural business ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace. Funding is made through NIFA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program.“For small agricultural businesses, the federal government is a key, initial investor to help them get great ideas into the marketplace,” said NIFA Director, Sonny Ramaswamy. “The feasibility and scalability of these business concepts are evaluated through our peer review process, and businesses get to keep their intellectual property rights as they commercialize their ventures.”"