Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Blueberry Chronicles

As you may have ascertained, I love yogurt. Tangy, creamy and light – it is a wonderful and nutritious food. All too often however manufacturers manhandle yogurt in an attempt to inject flavor into my beloved dairy product. The outcomes of these alterations leave yogurt loaded with sugars and artificial flavors, often devoid of any real nutritional value. While chocolate and caramel flavored yogurt does exists – I’m looking at you Stonyfield Oikos – most often these manipulations are done in the name of fruit. Fruit, a food item so inherently associated with health and well being, more often than not translates into excess sugar and artificial dyes in my yogurt cup. 

In this analysis I have examined blueberry yogurts, as these plump, bulbous berries are rank high on my list of favorite fruits and are the perfect yogurt addition, as they are already small and sweet enough to add to a yogurt bowl without manipulation. Unfortunately most yogurt manufactures do share my outlook.

Let us compare some ingredient information in eight popular blueberry yogurts:

Brand and Product Name
Serving Size
Ingredients contributing to flavor
Dannon Oikos Blueberry
Blueberries, sugar, fructose, natural flavor, carmine (for color)
Stonyfield Oikos Blueberry
Organic sugar, organic blueberries, natural flavor, organic elderberry juice (for color)
Dannon Activia Blueberry
Blueberry puree, sugar, fructose, natural flavor, carmine (for color)
Dannon Fruit on the Bottom Blueberry
Blueberries, sugar, fructose syrup, high fructose corn syrup, natural flavors
Dannon Light&Fit Blueberry
Fructose, blueberry puree, fructose, natural flavor, blue #1, red #40, aspartame, sucralose (splenda)
Stonyfield Lowfat Blueberry
Organic sugar, organic blueberries, natural flavor, organic elderberry juice (for color)
Yoplait Lite Blueberry Patch
High fructose corn syrup, sucralose (splenda), natural and artificial flavor, red #40, blue #1
Chobani Blueberry
Blueberries, evaporated cane juice, natural flavors

Half of these yogurt products contain more sugar than blueberries, as denoted by the order of ingredients. In the “light” varieties that appear lower in sugar, the primary sweeteners are zero-calorie splenda and aspartame.

Compare the flavored yogurt stats to a cup of plain yogurt with ¼ of a cup of fresh, sweet blueberries:

Brand of Plain Yogurt
Serving Size, Yogurt
Sugar, Includes Berries and Yogurt
Dannon Oikos
Stonyfield Oikos
Stonyfield Lowfat

Bottom Line: Add your own blueberries, ya dope!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oikos: Dannon

The Dannon brand came to America by way of Europe in 1942 and is now the top selling yogurt brand worldwide. Groupe Danone was founded in Spain in 1919 and when the company expanded to America in 1942 it was marketed under than name Dannon. Stonyfield began manufacturing Greek yogurt under the Oikos brand in 2007, Dannon joined the partnership and began manufacturing non-organic Oikos in 2011.
The Facts:
  • Large processing plants for Dannon yogurt products, including Oikos, are located in Ohio, Texas and Utah
    •   In these plants Dannon produces six million cups of yogurt a day 
  • Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) supplies raw milk to both the Ohio and Utah Dannon locations
    • DFA is owned by DMS, which controls most of the transport from farm to plant 
    • DMS also aids in the transport of yogurt to wholesale and retail stores, moving approximately 4.6 million pounds of yogurt per day in the United States 
  •   DFA has dairy farms in 48 states 
    • I was unable to determine which of these farms or regions of farms supply milk to the Ohio and Utah Dannon plants though Dannon notes that their fresh milk “comes mostly from local plants"
  • Beginning in 2012, McCarty Dairy, a 7,100 cow family-run farm in Kansas, began supplying all of the raw milk for Dannon’s Texas facility 
  • All milk used to produce Dannon Oikos is hormone free and the cows are fed a typical dairy cow diet
    • This includes corn, soybean, cottonseed, barley, oat, wheat, sunflower, sorghum, rice, alfalfa, maize silage and/or alfalfa silage  
  • Dannon Oikos single serving cups typically cost about $1.00 in supermarkets
McCarty Dairy
The Taste:
Dannon Oikos is thicker than its Stonyfield counterpart. However, the yogurt does not contain the same level of thickness as Chobani's plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and it must be stirred vigorously to even the texture. Dannon Oikos is less tangy than Stonyfield's and has no detectable notes of cheese. This makes for a milder overall yogurt. I feel the brand lacks the unique tang of Greek yogurt and more closely resembles conventional plain yogurt in taste. Oikos has a slightly sweet finish which is very pleasant.                                                                                                                                                                   
The Bottom Line:
Dannon is undoubtedly a more industrialized manufacturer than Chobani or Stonyfield. The company sources milk from all over the United States and produces a staggering amount of yogurt daily with little regard for environmental issues and small-scale farmers. While the Greek yogurt is tasty, the flavor is meek and unassertive. Neither the company principles nor the taste make Dannon Oikos standout among the sea of yogurts on the market, making it the last Greek yogurt I would pick off a supermarket shelf.                                                                                                                                                               
Although, looking at John Stamos isn't too bad.