March 10, 2008
Little Buggies, Good and Bad
It got me again.
The flu, that is, some New England strain that my Southern immune system is powerless to resist. I spent the weekend in various reclining positions, in my bed and on the couch, watching such classic films as "The Princess Bride," "The Big Chill," and "Joe Vs. The Volcano." Wonderful Husband Charles assures me that "A Few Good Men" is the ultimate get-well-soon movie, so maybe I'll give that one a try this evening.
Before I lost the use of my nose, I jotted down some notes about something tasty, and today I feel well enough to write about it. The wonderful stuff in question is maple-vanilla yogurt from Hawthorne Valley Farm, a biodynamic and organic operation in the Hudson River Valley of New York.
The farm comprises a market garden and community-supported agriculture program; a dairy with a closed, sixty-cow herd; a bakery; a processing facility for lacto-fermenting vegetables; and a farm store, the highlight of which is a comprehensive organic dairy section, including the farm's own raw milk. Did I mention that their products are organic*? Everything grown on the farm, including dairy and meat products, are also biodynamic. Biodynamic farming is a holistic approach to agriculture that focuses on improving the health of the soil. There are specific practices involved in biodynamic farming, such as using homeopathic fertilizers and planting by celestial signs, that may cause skepticism amongst consumers. However, I figure that farmers are busy folks, and that they wouldn't invest time and energy a methodology unless it produced desirable results. Besides, given a choice between eating food that's been sprinkled with compost tea, or that's been sprayed with pesticides, I choose the former.
The fabulous yogurt produced by Hawthorne Valley Farm also suggests that they're doing something right. Because the unhomogenized whole milk is used to make it, you might scoop up a few globules of cream in your serving. The yogurt contains no stabilizers, so it has a loose texture, like lightly-whipped cream. Unfortunately, this makes it all the more tempting to take a second helping, and a third... my appetite grows by feeding on this yogurt!
It has a delicate, well-balanced flavor: neither the tanginess nor the sweetness comes across as aggressive. Sometimes, I find the flavor of maple syrup to be overwhelming, but this flavor proves that, in moderation, it can be a very mellow sweetener. The yogurt itself must be mild, as one cup is sweetened with only 24 grams of sugar. Further investigation: I was surprised that other organic yogurts contained 29 grams of sugar per cup in lowfat and 33 grams in nonfat versions. I expected them to contain drastically more sugar than HVF whole-milk yogurt; the explanation for HVF's superior flavor must not be that simple!
HVF products are sold at two NYC Green Markets, at the farm store, and through the CSA. Plain and maple-vanilla yogurts can be found at Whole Foods and various grocery co-ops in New England. Some products, such as cheese and lacto-fermented vegetables, can be ordered through the website.
*Due to high demand, HVF purchases some ingredients for its lacto-fermented vegetables from neighboring farms. Though all of the vegetables are grown organically, some may not be certified organic.