Monday, February 28, 2005

The Gospel of Yogurt

Many agree, yogurt is one of nature's most wondrous foods. Busily tended to by bacteria eager to get at its milk sugars, yogurt is easily digestible and subtly sour at its prime. And yogurt is a survivor -- don't try this at home kids, but if left out for a few hours in mild temperatures or left for a month or two in your refrigerator, yogurt will probably still taste just great with granola. Call me crazy but I usually let it sit past the date on the lid just to squeeze out every last bit of sourness. Don't overlook its dynamic food genre scalability, either. Good mornings are made great with a mix of cereals, raisins, ground flax seed, and tea masala spices over a yogurt base. Later in the day yogurt is perfect for warming a winter evening: hand-mash a baked hubbard squash (you know, the one you've been keeping in cold storage) into your yogurt for a creamy delightful soup.

Which yogurt matters, too. Admittedly, my fridge currently sports 4 different brands of organic yogurt, though Seven Stars Farm yogurt is currently my heart and soul. It wins for its creamy yet not overly consistent texture, its simple ingredients list (milk + cultures), its eastern PA spunk, and its biodynamic organic farming practices. The biodynamic approach to farming integrates dairy and growing operations with composting, biodiversity, and soil/climate knowledge to maximize agricultural sustainability. (In other words, it's so "crunchy" already that you might not even have to add any granola). Milk-making is a year-round sport, but interestingly:
They've discovered that demand for 32-ounce yogurt is seasonal, with slow periods around Christmas and the summer holidays; a schedule that doesn't mesh particularly well with peak milk production, in May and June.
But don't knock yourself out looking for Seven Stars... there are wonderful local producers of milk and yogurt wherever you are in the country. If you're curious about biodynamic dairy, another brand in the Northeast is Hawthorne Valley (upstate NY). And a quick word of caution, avoid fat-free yogurts or you'll be left wondering what all the hoopla is about.

PS- Stonyfield blogs. Interestingly, their most popular blog is about a life on a family farm.

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