The fat-free, taste-free yogurt rant

I’ve been thinking a lot about a huge number of things recently, including but not limited to: what I want to do with my life; career-building vs. relationships; location vs. family; ideals vs. money; pointless wedding traditions; the role of religion in my life; the coverage of Trayvon Martin protests; the prevalence of understated sexism; working mothers. That’s just a smattering of Things That Bounce Around in Emily’s Brain (TTBAEB).

But most of those things are too personal and will have to wait for private conversations. Thus, I will resort to an old stand-by among TTBAEB for my blog this week. And that, my friends, is my yogurt rant.

Trader Joe's French Vanilla.

Because creamy yogurt is happy yogurt.

Here’s the sad truth: There are thousands — nay, hundreds of thousands — of Americans out there who eat yogurt regularly yet never realize its full potential. The main magical ingredient that’s missing from the vast majority of American yogurt? Fat.

The reason for that magic* is umami — the fifth and oft-forgotten taste, after sweet, salty, sour and bitter. It’s the taste of all things savory. Chicken stock. A rich cut of beef. Parmesan cheese. Mushrooms. Ketchup. Cream. It makes you smack your lips after each bite. And according to the linked article, it’s the reason why foods with artificial MSG taste better — MSG is pure umami.

*I can say this with reasonable unscientific certainty.

So, good news — there’s no reason to eat fake MSG when you can smack your lips on real yogurt. The fat-free variety, whether Greek or plain, pales in comparison to the real thing. It’s the difference between decaf and caffeinated coffee, between the Venetian casino in Vegas and … actual Venice. In the words of Fabulous, “often imitated, never duplicated.” (He was not referring to yogurt, however.)

It just seems like a mind-boggling cognitive disconnect, that we as Americans are so committed to eating fat-free yogurt, yet more than one in three adults are still obese. Obesity is a huge problem, but it doesn’t come from consuming whole-fat yogurt. Obesity comes from Burger King, frozen dinners, Paula Deen recipes, Oreos and lack of exercise.

A philosophy I learned in France — a country where the white parts of cold cut meats are a delicacy and it’s weird when American students try to eat around them — is that eating fat does not necessarily make you fat. And only one in ten French people are obese, so clearly they are doing something right. So please, dear readers, don’t put delicious, creamy, probiotic-filled yogurt on the chopping block. Eating whole-fat yogurt in excess won’t make you healthier, but in moderation, it will make you happier.

1 thought on “The fat-free, taste-free yogurt rant”

  1. Actually, I would love to hear all about Emily’s “what I want to do with my life; career-building vs. relationships; location vs. family; ideals vs. money; pointless wedding traditions; the role of religion in my life; the coverage of Trayvon Martin protests; the prevalence of understated sexism; working mothers.” But I’m her Dad. Yoni.

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