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There are many kinds of yogurt, but by far the most enjoyable and satisfying are those made from non-homogenized, whole milk. Homogenized milk has an unnaturally even consistency that prevents the cream from separating. The result is an artificially even texture that compromises the delicate rich flavor of the milk fat-- The same idea applies to yogurt-- non-homogenized yogurts have a layer of cream on top, you can blend in it... or enjoy it on it's own-- it's rich, smooth and, frankly, one of the finest tastes known to mankind ...in the history of everything.

Normally, I'd be forced to make an arduous trip to a specialty fru-fru "organic" grocery on some tony neighborhood far from my South Bronx home to get this wonderful food, but, a few months ago, when my local grocer started carrying "cream top" from Stonyfield I was in a kind of yogurt-lover's HEAVEN! I introduced this wonderful treat to a few of my neighbors and, since our grocer never stocked enough, we'd end up cleaning the shelves within a day of the shipment... only to wait a long two weeks for the yogurt truck to return... I always wished that my grocer would stock more... but, even this small joy was not to last. About a month ago Stonyfield switched their yogurt from "cream top" to homogenized, and gone forever was that fine sweet layer of cream-- the yogurt now had the texture of the many boring "fat free" brands that cluttered the shelf.

I'm not the only one who's annoyed by this. Witness this blog.

Nor will I take this lying down! Witness, also... the Sternly Worded Letter (tm)!!!

Dear Stonyfield Dairy,

My local grocer here in the South Bronx used to carry "cream top" yougurt, it was very very popular and it would sell out within a day or two of being on the self, (I'd time my trips to the store just so I could get some) but now he says it is no longer available. It seems only Brown Cow makes "cream top", and that means I must take a $4 subway ride to the wholefoods on the Upper-west Side to buy good yogurt. Not very reasonable.

I recently discovered that you have aquired Brown Cow... does this mean that my local grocer will be able to get Brown Cow brand "cream top" yogurts with ease from the same distributor?

Or should I buy a bulk yogurt maker and start making yogurt for me and all of my neighbors who have stopped buying your yogurts since the "cream top" was taken off of the shelf?

Respectfully, and hoping for a good response,

Susan D.

HA!!! HA HA!!

That'll shown 'em!!

Ah-hem. ... None of these things are of major importance I realize, but I do think it is indicative of a larger trend, when small companies are taken over by larger ones, much like the milk, they become homogenized. It's just easier to produce products with less character, most consumers don't notice, so, while one might save a few pennies as they trim the kinks and curves from their production lines, we end up losing all of the quirks and details that make life a little more interesting, a little bit richer, a little less... homogenized.

Homogenized milk became popular in the 1950s since you didn't need to shake it (less work) and becuase it is easier to tell visually if the milk is fresh. In homogenized milk separation is a sign of spoilage. In non-homogenized milk you must use smell. Since refrigerators on the 50s were not yet ubiquitous or as reliable as they are today, homogenization along with pasteurization (the process of heating milk to kill organisms that can hasten spoilage) were probably both positive for people who had far too many unpleasant experiences with milk going bad in the ere of the ice box and un-refrigerated milk truck. It mush have seemed like a wonderful miracle to have milk of uniform consistency that didn't spoil as quickly.

But today, refrigeration is superior, and milk is shipped cold from the dairy to your fridge. The relative cost of milk compared to income has fallen and better packaging has made spoilage less of an issue. Hence, non-homogenized milk products, with their superior taste and texture should be more readily available. Unpasteurized milks should be there, for those who want it, as well-- but a market built on companies always merging in to larger and larger entities does not often lead to diversity on the grocery shelf.

I expect as more people experience the difference this may change, but this small shift in yogurts that I have described, has nothing to do with consumer satisfaction and everything to do with Stonyfield being able to use cheaper homogenized milk to make their product. Their bet is that no one will care.

My bet is that my homemade yogurt will be even better that what I used to get in those little plastic cups.