Yogurt - Not As Healthy As You'd Think

I’ve been tapping my computer desk, not quite sure which approach to take with this. I was doing some research on Inulin, an additive touted by Stonyfield, and other yogurt manufacturers as being “healthy”. Of course, my findings don’t necessarily support their claims, but more on that later…

In my Inulin quest, I ran across fascinating information regarding how yogurt is produced. For quite a few years, we’ve avoided homogenized products as if they were the black plague. Granted, they are almost as deadly given the process by which fat molecules in milk are forced under high pressure through a very fine screen which blasts each fat molecule into 500 little itty bitty pieces, guaranteeing they are just the right size to be absorbed through your intestinal wall, ending up in your liver, in your blood stream….. So? Heart disease. Liver disease. Weakening of the body to fight off other disease. Nasty business that homogenization. Guess I’ll have to do an article on it. In the meantime, back to yogurt…

Guess what is homogenized? Yes! Yogurt!

But, but, but, you may sputter like I did. You may even run to your refrigerator peering as I did at the fine print on the carton. Make note to self – check into new glasses. If you have a 9-year-old handy, get them into the act. “Here, read this honey and do you see the word h-o-m-o-g-e-n-i-z-e-d anywhere on the carton??”

“Nope”, she replies. So you run BACK to your computer, reading the information again:

Manufacturing Method

The milk is clarified and separated into cream and skim milk, then standardized to acheive the desired fat content. The various ingredients are then blended together in a mix tank equipped with a powder funnel and an agitation system. The mixture is then pasteurized using a continuous plate heat exchanger for 30 min at 85° C or 10 min at 95° C. These heat treatments, which are much more severe than fluid milk pasteurization, are necessary to achieve the following:
1. produce a relatively sterile and conducive environment for the starter culture
2. denature and coagulate whey proteins to enhance the viscosity and texture

The mix is then homogenized using high pressures of 2000-2500 psi. Besides thoroughly mixing the stabilizers and other ingredients, homogenization also prevents creaming and wheying off during incubation and storage. Stability, consistency and body are enhanced by homogenization. Once the homogenized mix has cooled to an optimum growth temperature, the yogurt starter culture is added.

Entire source – Yogurt: Dairy Science and Technolgoy

Surely this was a fluke! A strange regional occurance which had nothing whatsoever to do with any product I would buy for my family in my part of the country. Denial is a difficult condition to overcome.

I clackety-clacked my way over to the Stonyfield Farms website, looked in their FAQ, and sure enough, some other paranoid suspicious person asked:

Is all milk used to make Stonyfield Farm yogurt homogenized?”.

C’mon. This is Stonyfield Farm! The same Stonyfield with the OBNOXIOUS anti-SUV radio campaign I’d bristle at while driving my LandCuiser!!! (For the record, I’ve put on 3,300 miles in 3 years in that vehicle.) The same Stonyfield who I had come to rely on for organic yogurt, I mean, c’mon! I smiled knowing their answer would be…..

WHAT??” I screamed at my monitor. “What??“.

I gripped my desk, reading their reply for the 3rd time:

Yes, with the exception of our whole milk yogurts with cream on top. When milk is not homogenized, the cream rises to the top, just as it used to in old-fashioned milk bottles.

AND WHAT?”, I argued with a web page. “People might be put out by a little separation of their yogurt, and have to exert energy STIRRING IT BACK IN? So instead, you opt to KILL all of us through homogenization which hardens arteries and has a direct connection to heart disease????”.

After I calmed down, I had a nice little talk with myself. WHY did I feel so….lied to? Deceived! Conned!!!!

Because I am ADDICTED to reading labels. Because I automatically assumed that ALL dairy products had to print “HOMOGENIZED” on the label or package. After all, milk had it! And whipping cream! And half-and-half! But not yogurt that I had trustingly fed to my children for all these years?

Now, to be honest, I’ve very seldom bought any yogurt OTHER than the full milk version. We laid off low-fat versions several years ago, recognizing that simple carbs are the culprit in ill health and weight gain and that full fat is NOT the issue.

The issue behind my anger, my feeling lied to simply comes down to truth in labeling. Not disclosing the homogenization process used in creating all yogurts OTHER than whole milk yogurts with the cream on the top, is deceitful in my black and white view.

Back to hunting down recipes for making my own yogurt….

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