Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where has all the fat gone?

I went to Super Walmart this morning to pick up a few things in the grocery section. Since I am a low carber, I can actually get in and out of a Walmart fairly quickly. (It is amazing how many isles are loaded with refined, sugar-filled garbage that I can totally ignore.) I grabbed the baby clams I needed for my Tropical Clam Chowder, and right on the other side of the isle is the coconut milk that completes that recipe. I also grabbed some diet soda (yeah yeah yeah...artifical sweeteners. So sue me!) and then headed over to the dairy isle to get some yogurt.

I was in for quite a rude awakening as it dawned on me that there wasn't a single brand in that 24 foot long, 6' tall dairy case that was plain and full-fat. There were thousands of containers of Yoplait , Dannon, Brown Cow, Great Value and a few others I didn't even recognize. There was yogurt for digestive health, yogurt with cereal added, yogurt with extra calcium, and even a line of yogurt just for babies. There was plenty of plain low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free varieties, as well as a rainbow of flavored versions loaded with fruit juice, sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But I did not see a single carton of unadulterated, plain, fat intact, delicious creamy yogurt. Just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, I read several dozen labels quite carefully and all I got was a headache and eye strain for my trouble.

The fat is the most nourishing part of the yogurt. It provides essential fatty acids your body and brain need to function properly. It helps with vitamin absorption and makes you feel full. If you are eating a healthy diet, fat should be your primary source of energy. Sure, yogurt also contains beneficial bacteria, but I use yogurt as a way to make sure I am getting plenty of healthy fat and to stave off hunger. I want my fat dammit! Seriously, when is the last time you said "I'm so full! I just ate several million bacteria cultures."?

So of course I was a bit miffed that I was not be able to find any QUALITY yogurt and couldn't help but wonder where the hell all the fat went. Are they throwing it out? Shipping it overseas? Are food company executives keeping it for themselves as they take the least nutritious part of the product, load it with sugar, corn syrup and chemicals and then put it in brightly-colored packages with a premium price tag? If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would have to give that last thought some serious consideration.

Fortunately I live in an area with quite a few stores and Safeway is only 5 minutes from Walmart. I knew THEY had real yogurt. They carry Mountain High brand, which, aside from the typical sugar-poisoned flavors, includes a very thick and tasty plain, full-fat version. The store was crowded and it took a bit to work my way back to the dairy section, but there was the Mountain High ON SALE! I grabbed two large containers and headed toward the check out. It wasn't until I scanned the cartons in the self-checkout lane that I noticed that I had NOT grabbed plain, full-fat yogurt, but vanilla flavored sugar-filled yogurt! The containers were almost identical to the plain variety with the exception of a small flower on the front. The lids were the same for both, and since they were on the bottom of the case, it was the lid I used to pick the cartons. I handed them to the clerk, explaining I grabbed the wrong kind, and then just left. I was too weak to fight my way back to the dairy case and I didn't feel up to reading any more microscopically small type trying to make sure I actually got what I wanted.

As I sit here typing this blog entry, yogurtless and annoyed, I am taking back what I said earlier. Apparently there is a conspiracy and those rat bastards at the Mountain High Yogurt marketing and design department are also in on it. But I am not ready to give up yet. I will try to find yogurt again next time I go to the store, but not before I grab a magnifying glass and my tinfoil helmet.


Sew Shy said...

I too was shocked that Walmart didn't carry the Mountain High yogurt that I love. I'm sorry you had to leave without yours - yah, I've made the labeling mistake too and grabbed the "lowfat" plain yogurt by mistake in the past.
I actually stopped at Smart & Final today and got a tub - and grabbed some sugarfree syrup as well to go in it. Yumm!

Wifezilla said...

I'm not getting any younger and it is getting harder and harder to read those labels. I also screwed up a couple of weeks ago and bought a case of green tea with sugar instead of the diet version. A whole case!


Anonymous said...

I can still buy 5% (5%!) plain Jerseygold yogurt with nothing added except for the bacterial culture. It is very thick and tasty. But I pay through the old schnozz at my health food store for a pint or thereabouts.

Nina said...

I'm completely with you on the labels; I think I'm going to have to start bringing a magnifying glass.

In the Northeast anyway, Stonyfield Farms has a wonderful full-fat plain yogurt (and even cream on the top), but they also have the sneaky vanilla right next to it!

Anonymous said...

I visited Wegman's yesterday (I LOVE that place!) and saw that they have their own brand of yogurt now that includes added antibiotics. Worth a try! Oh, and they had "plain" yogurt. But I was glad that I read the label - they ADDED tons of sugar. It was "organic" cane sugar - but who cares about that?? I'll add my Splenda (or nothing) myself, thank you very much. Disappointing

amo said...

Locally, I can't find any full fat yogurt at all, but I live in a small town. The easiest one to spot when I go to Walmart is Stonyfield's plain YoBaby.

Karen said...

I like the FAGE Greek yogurt I get at TJ's. They used to carry only the one regular, plain, full fat version, now they have an entire section of cartons with varying amounts of fat, honey, etc. In fact, TJ's now has their own Greek-style yogurt product with the exact same versions (mutations?) :-). I used to be able to go in, grab it and leave. Now it takes me 10 minutes to find the right one and I find that I don't go to get it very often any more.

HunBun said...

I live in the Twin Cities area of MN and am getting so frustrated at the stuff I want/need and cannot get...I occassionally use yogurt in cooking and it's all fat free - gag. I also would like to find full-fat buttermilk for ranch dressing but even the rare Super Walmart doesn't have it. You can make your own yogurt if you are feeling particularly industrious but for all the oftener I use it it's not worth the effort.

Wifezilla said...

Thanks for commenting everyone. Nice to know I am not the only one having issues (I feel less like a weirdo now :D ).

Hunbun, there is a Trader Joe's in your area somewhere. I have inlaws in Mankato and my SIL works there.

Anonymous said...

Several months ago one of the people stocking the yogurt shelves at the one store asked if she could help me find anything, and I felt the need to point out to her that there wasn't a single full fat, sugarless yogurt anywhere in the store, along with a little grumbling about "What do they think we are, expecting us to eat all this low fat garbage? That's like saying God was stupid to put so much fat in the milk."

Well, what do you know, a few weeks later they started carrying Dannon plain full fat. So complaining actually does work, you just have to complain to someone who is willing to do something about it.

(Eh... I can't seem to sign in... this is Madam de Leon, aka Mad4Plaid)

oakdryad said...

HunBun, there's a TJ's in Maple Grove, one in St. Louis Park, and I have heard rumors of one in Woodbury. I was SO excited when TJ's came to the Twin Cities...I had missed it so when I moved in.

And I've picked up the low fat crap there by mistake too. Although last time I looked, they were sort of color coding. :)

Anonymous said...

Even before I was lowcarbing, I knew that full-fat yogurt - even with sugar in it - was better and more satisfying, and was very dismayed when I realized I could no longer find the full-fat Breyers cherry yogurt I loved so much. It's ALL fat-free or lowfat now.


Anonymous said...

What're they doing with all the fat?

Well, when it comes to the cream they skim off all the milk (including milk made into yogurt), they're packaging it in little cartons of cream, that sell for about 4 or 6 times the price of milk or yogurt. So even those of us who know that the cream is the good part and aren't being taken in by the low fat propaganda are paying through the nose for it.

As an aside, I can't find any full fat fage here, no organic cream (although they do have 1/2 & 1/2), no pasteurized eggs (except that nasty Egg Beaters - garbage filled, egg white slop) so that you can make your own mayo or salad dressings with a good oil... Sometimes I really do think it's a conspiracy to make sure there's nothing at all healthy in the stores. Ok, I don't really believe that, it's just getting ridiculous how ingrained the fat phobia has become.

What I really want to know though, is what happens to all the chicken skins from those boneless, skinless pieces of chicken they sell? Chicken skin, cooked up crispy is a lovely treat all by itself.. yummo! They're probably using it in dog and cat food, as part of the meat and chicken "byproducts" though. But can you just imagine how wonderful a snack product called chicken skins (Think pork rinds, only chickeny) would be? Oooooh, double yummo!!!

Vesna VK said...

I just published an article in a local magazine about a local artisan yogurt producer. A very small, idealistic operation. They're the good guys, you know what I mean. Here's a link to the article.

It just drives me crazy and breaks my heart that I can't get whole-milk yogurt from these guys. Not yet, anyway -- in the interview they said it was just a matter of time. But they get their milk exclusively from two nearby farms, so fresh and local and wonderful -- and then skim the cream off before making it into yogurt! Aghhhh!

Read down into the article, you'll see that I asked them about this.

Also you'll find the answer to the question, what happens to the fat? At least in this case, it gets made into -- yum! -- butter.

Wifezilla said...

Ohhhhh BUTTER!

That I can forgive :D

Great article Vesna!

Vesna VK said...

Thanks! :)

Stephen said...

For full fat, FAGE and Greek God Yogurt. The first is like yogurt, the second is like cheesecake.

I eat both, a lot (we bought a case of the large Greek God full fat, no sugar last week). Sprouts, Central Market, Whole Food are good outlets.

Keri-Ann said...

I just want to say I LOVE your blog and I'm SO happy that I'm not the only one to longingly look at all the yogurts and leave usually angry that I can't find any full fat versions...I am very lucky to have a trader joe's as well as a whole foods here (indianapolis) but those are out of my way if I'm going to wally world for my weekly shopping trip...

also saw a comment where you said you want NO sugar in your tea - I won't even begin on this one...seriously, when I'm out I have to CAREFULLY say UN-sweetened. WHY in the world do people RUIN tea anymore by making it so darn sweet!!!???

thanks for letting me get that out. again, i LOVE your blog! :)