Taking the Artificial out of Yogurt

by Leighann on March 19, 2010

Betty Crocker

Here I am posing next to the original Betty Crocker painting. Image via Flickr.*

In the fall of 2009 I was invited to the General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis to cook in the Betty Crocker Kitchens. Yes, THE Betty Crocker Kitchens.

I tend to be opinionated about products and share my opinions with companies, especially where I see there is room for improvement.

Before flying to Minnesota, I formulated a list of questions and concerns to share with the General Mills folks who I would be interacting with.

Some of my concerns included:

  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in products marketed to kids (YoPlait Kids yogurt)
  • Artificial colors in products marketed to kids (Trix yogurt)
  • Artificial flavors in products marketed to kids (Trix Yogurt)
  • MSG in many of their soups (Progresso)
  • Use of pesticides to grow Green Giant vegetables
  • Inclusion of meat products like chicken or beef broth in items that could easily be made vegetarian (Old El Paso black beans, Progresso Vegetable Soup)

What I wanted to see more of:

  • Expansion of their organic brands like Muir Glen and Cascadian Farm
  • Greater use of whole grains

I try to be an advocate when I really believe in a cause. While some of the other women were busy socializing, I took an exec aside and went line by line through my written list of concerns. I liked some of what I heard, but was also dismayed that change couldn’t come quick enough in these areas.

I learned that Green Giant peas are grown without pesticides. I learned that they were having a slow roll out of Progresso soup formulations that do not contain MSG.

But I was also told that they have to use HFCS in their yogurt because it blends better than granulated sugars. How can this be true if other brands, especially organic, are using evaporated cane juice and the like?

Now I’m not saying that they actually listened to little old me, but I have seen a few of these changes implemented since the trip.

General Mills recently announced a reduction of added sugar to the single digits in all it’s cereals marketed to kids.

And lo and behold, I learned this week that Go-Gurt can now be purchased with, wait for it, wait for it:

  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No artificial colors
  • No artificial flavors

It’s being called Simply Go-Gurt. It has the same number of carbs as the Go-Gurt made with HFCS, 13 grams carbs per serving. Too bad it’s not also antibiotic- and hormone-free.

I have to say that my kids consume A LOT of tube yogurt each week. We pop it in the freezer and they eat it frozen for dessert most nights. And when my daughter packs her lunch I throw in a frozen yogurt tube and it is thawed by lunch time. I would buy the Stonyfield Farm YoKids Squeezers if it weren’t for the fact that they cost twice as much: about $5 per box! I do prefer to buy dairy products free of hormones and antibiotics.

I buy large tubs of vanilla Mountain High Yoghurt or Stonyfield Farm, depending on which grocery store I go to. Of course Stonyfield Farm is organic.

According to Mountain High, their yogurt “is made with pure crystalline fructose, a natural sweetener with a much lower glycemic index than the cane sugars and high fructose corn syrup used in other brands. Those other sweeteners can cause insulin surges even in healthy children and lead to cravings for more sweet foods. Mountain High Yoghurt also contains NO artificial sweeteners, and we use just enough crystalline fructose to make our yoghurts taste great. Our yoghurts contain absolutely NO artificial flavors, colors, or starches, and NO synthetic growth hormones.”

Not long ago my kids tried drinkable yogurt and are addicted. A friend recently told me about Kefir which comes in berry flavors. I may have to refill the Dora drinkable yogurt bottles with Kefir. I also am going to give Greek yogurt a try.

Come back Monday as I tell you how I save a little bit of money buying organic yogurt for my family.

What kinds of yogurt do you feed your family? Is it important that it is free of HFCS, artificial colors, and flavors? What about buying dairy without growth hormones and antibiotics?

Disclosure: I do participate in General Mill’s MyBlogSpark program and write about their products on a parent product review blog I author. They occasionally send me free products or coupons for products. I buy many of their products with my own money and did not receive any sort of compensation for this post. I was not asked to write this post and these opinions are my own. The company did fly me out to Minneapolis at their expense in 2009. Please read the D-Mom Blog disclosure statement.

*Image via Flickr.

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