Friday, June 26, 2015

Socrates Would NOT Approve

A trend that I've seen cropping up in my meanderings (and one I think will definitely stay) is that of online grocery shopping and delivery.  Particularly popular and more feasible in big cities, people can fill electronic grocery carts, pay online, and have those foodstuffs etc delivered the next day or the next hour.


There are rare days when, yes, I would LURVE groceries delivered to my door.  Yes, even I tire of looking at and selecting food sometimes.  Endless aisles of food or food-looking products.  Waiting in line to pay, bag, before lugging them home and Tetrising them into the various spaces in my refrigerator and pantry (Lord help me when all my kids finally leave the house and can no longer do this task) is a low-grade fatiguing activity. But exhausting nonetheless.


Most of the time, though, I revel in going to the supermarket.  To me, grocery stores are rife with endless possibilities.  Not only in what I might conjure up for that night's dinner, but what I might be able to learn about our consumer culture in general. After all, knowledge is power.  Most of the time, though, what I learn about American food consumer habits just leaves me shaking my head.  But still...

Here's the latest.

Yogurt.  A popular breakfast and snack food introduced by those damned healthy hippies in the 60s and 70s and mega-endorsed these days by celebrities such as Jamie Lee Curtis.  The wild Greek-style trend has only been with us nearly ten years.  Greek yogurt in its natural state, is thicker, tarter, creamier, and much better for our bodies.  Probably the reason Achilles was nearly invincible and why the city of Troy fell to the Greeks in the Trojan War.

And it turns out, today, we want too much of this good Greek yogurt thing...but only if it tastes like stuff we're used to.  If it's weird and tart and thick, then forget you, Hector!

Personally, I love Greek yogurt.  PLAIN, that is.  I like adding my own fresh fruit and sweetener (usually agave or honey, in small amounts) for my breakfast.  So, it irritates me a little that what started as a good, healthy product (like the container on the right, above) has morphed into the marketing monster on the left.  What's more attractive to sort-of-picky yogurt eaters?  The straight-up Plain-Jane blue container on the right, or the one on the left...with its picture of a stylized vanilla bean and the prominent words SIMPLY 100?

Here's what I really want to know.  What does each product contain?  What are the ingredients of each?  Is the Vanilla Beany-Simply 100 all it's cracked up to be?  Certainly, a look at the Chobani website would render these simple nutritional facts.

However, when I clicked on the link above, I discovered I had a very hard time finding (read: never) nutritional facts for the straight-up plain yogurt.  Instead, I was bombarded by dozens of types and flavors of yogurt Chobani is pushing out these days.  Don't even get me started on the Flip, Oats, and Indulgent Lines.

Good thing I have my own container of plain Greek yogurt to reference in this case.  It's quite interesting, really.

Both yogurts' serving sizes are one cup.  Ready?

                  Plain             Simply 100 - Vanilla
Calories     130               150
Total Fat    0g                 same
Cholest      10g               same
Sodium      105mg          95mg
Fiber          0g                 7g
Sugars       6g                 11g
Protein      22g                19g

At first glance, these two products are about even, really.  And perhaps, the Simply 100 seems even better for you:  less sodium, more fiber, and slightly less protein. A little more sugar, but not enough to call the police.

But then...upon closer inspection: both yogurts have milk and the same good live cultures as the primary ingredients.  After that, the plain yogurt is done.  That's it.  Two ingredients.  Le fin.  The Simply 100 goes on a bit further with: Water, Chicory Root Fiber, Evaporated Cane Juice, Natural Vanilla Extract, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Pectin, Monk Fruit Extract, Stevia Leaf Extract.

True, the Chobani claim of "non-GMO ingredients" and "no artificial sweeteners" is true...but what are "Natural Flavors" exactly?  And pectin?  Really? A gelling, filling, and stabilizing agent in the yogurt?  Chobani's Simply 100 is beginning to look like a lot of the other not-so-great-for you yogurts on the shelves.

And here's the most important thing: the product is called Simply 100...leading you to believe each serving is 100 calories.  So, why is an 8oz cup of the above product 150 calories?  You got to read the fine print, I guess.  It's only the individual 5.3 oz packages that are 100 calories!  Details, details, details.

It's where the devil is.

Here's where I stand: give me my larger portioned, plainly-flavored Greek yogurt.  I'll add a sliced banana, which makes up for the lack of fiber, and a drizzle of agave, which gives me the natural, non-Evaporated Cane Juice sweetness I'm looking for.

And the Greeks and I feel much better about ourselves. 

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