Well, if it's not the Illuminati, then it's the Masons, and if it's not the Masons then it's some secret bovine cabal that wants to destroy humankind by implanting chemical bacteria in our guts. How else do you explain modern day yogurt? I mean, what other product, aside from air fresheners, is as over-advertised? Certainly no other dairy product is: milk? eggs? cheese? Eat GOUDA: it's gooda for me; it's gooda for you!
You can't turn on the TV without suffering a barrage of yogurt ads. And who in sam hell is coming up with these ad pitches? Eat Activia! It'll make your bowels turn green and dance! Why wasn't the ad guy laughed right out of the room? And have you seen their latest marketing tactic? Danone actually wants you to log on to their website and tell them whether you eat Activia for the taste or for the dancing bowel effect. No! Really! They want you to let them know, in writing, if you're regular.
The yogurt wars, I tell you: that's our modern day Coke-Pepsi stand-off. It's the battle of Danone versus Sealtest versus Astro versus Yoplait. Soon, there will only be one standing and I've got my money on Danone. (Except that I don't but more on that later.) Yes, Danone: they're the best at marketing to the kids, you see.
My family eats a lot of yogurt which means I've made my way around the dairy aisle more times than I care to mention. What I know is this: yogurt is changing. The brands I used to buy are always being replaced by new contenders, new flavours and combinations intended to wow us all. You want banana with howaru*, whipped strawberry custard, or mocha deelight? Then there's a yogurt for you. You can get it high fat, low fat, no fat, all sweet, artificially sweet, just fruity, omega fatty acid enhanced AND/OR with any one of a number of bumhole satisfying bacterial cultures. You can buy it in individual servings sizes, as a drink, in a tube, or in a tub. Back in the day, a tub meant 750 ml but now you're lucky if you get 600 ml in a tub. The price, of course, hasn't changed, just the amount. If you find a brand you like, a brand that hasn't given in to the insanity, wait a couple of weeks. If it's still on the market, chances are the only flavour available will be strawberry.
Do me a favour: the next time you're at the grocery store count the number of ingredients in a tub of yogurt. I had a look at a Danino drinkable yogurt recently and the answer was 25. Yes, there were 25 ingredients listed most of which I couldn't pronounce. Number two on the package was sugar. How many ingredients should yogurt contain? Just two: milk solids and bacterial culture.
About a year ago I discovered a local farmer at my farmer's market who sells his own, glorious, 2.5% milk fat yogurt. I eat it plain. Hell, I'd eat it on a train, in the rain while in Spain, it is so darn good. And what's more, he sells the stuff in 2 litre jugs for $5.95. The price simply cannot be beat. And the packaging is about as minimal as you can get.
My daughter used to like this yogurt plain but she's recently gone off it's sour taste. So what do I do when it comes time to send her to school with some yogurty goodness? I haul her thermos out of the cupboard, put in some frozen fruit from the freezer, plop in some plain yogurt and drizzle a little bit of maple syrup on top. She loves it like crazy and it looks just like all those pretenders on the market.
This year, I got adventuresome. When peaches were in season, I blanched and stewed a bunch, then froze them in ice cube trays just like I did when she was a baby. Now if I want peach yogurt, I just reach for a cube and add it. I meant to do the same with plums but haven't got around to it yet. Frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries demand far less attention. You can also get crazy, using just maple syrup or adding nuts if you don't need to be mindful of allergies. May I suggest adding stewed prunes if your drains become plugged? Plain yogurt can also be turned into a veggie dip easy as pie. I just add a squirt of prepared mustard and a bit of dill. It's not haute cuisine but the kid loves it. Plus it thwarts the Illuminati and that can only be good, right?
*fine, thank you very much