“Among those who still have enough wisdom not to think fairy-stories are pernicious, the common opinion seems to be that there is a natural connection between the minds of children and fairy-stories, of the same order as the connection between children’s bodies and milk.― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Tolkien Reader
Milk can be made into so many lovely things, but one of my favorite is a simple yogurt. It’s a quick nutritious meal or snack that I eat often and love to serve to my child’s growing body. I used to buy one of several brands (whichever was the best deal that week) and would at times stack them on a fridge shelf and other times toss them all in a fridge drawer. Either way, there would always be a few that would somehow sit long enough to go past their prime. The major brands frequently had preservatives and additives that I really wanted to skip and more sugar than I would have added on my own. The organic brands were always much more expensive! When I lived in a house with recycling pickup I could throw some of the brand’s little plastic cups in the bin, but some weren’t recycling friendly. One fall, when the gym I was going to had a deposit box, I saved the little pink lids for a breast cancer charity. The next year, though, the box wasn’t there and in fact there was no drop-off box near to me, and when I investigated the idea of mailing the lids in, I quickly figured out that I would be better served writing a check directly to charity of my choice, because the cost of postage was well over the amount that would have been donated by redeeming my lids! For all these reasons, yogurt seemed to be one of my buying habits where making a small change could likely lead to big results both in improving the quality of my diet and reducing its impact on the environment.
Now, I’m taking a whole new approach to yogurt. Through the Oklahoma Food Co-op, I’ve found a local dairy that sells fresh organic yogurt monthly. Wagon Creek Creamery is a family owned dairy in Helena, OK that raise their own entirely-grass-fed cattle, avoid all hormones, and list all their practices used to make their products here. The first month I ordered 2 quart containers (32 oz each). The following months I have ordered a half gallon (64 oz) refill bag, which is a sealed airtight bag that when opened can be easily used to fill both of my previous containers. They make several types of yogurt which I have sampled, but the low-fat Greek yogurt is my favorite.
As of today, the cheapest cost of a non-organic Greek yogurt cup in the several stores which I frequent was $0.79 each (for a total of 2 cups, IF you had the proper coupon). If you didn’t than the cheapest price I could find was $1.29 per cup (sale price this week). Each cup at this price was 6 oz and the package listed 10 ingredients. That would mean that realistically the price you would pay for enough individual cups to equal 64 oz would be $14.19. The only way to get that amount of yogurt cups for the coupon price would involve trips to at least 5 different stores, which I personally think means the price of gas and time would have to somehow be added into the total. Since I know I just don’t have the time and energy to drive to 5 different stores to get yogurt every month, I’m not bothering to try to calculate it.
I am now choosing to order one half gallon Lowfat Greek yogurt refill bag a month at a price of $14.95. There is only one ingredient, cultured milk, and I know that it traveled only a couple hours on the day of delivery to arrive to me as fresh, local, and as naturally-Oklahoman as possible. I reuse the two plastic tubs I already have, so the only waste is the small plastic bag it’s delivered in. I’m using this fabulous tasting creamy yogurt in recipes to substitute for sour cream with great results. I haven’t had a drop not get used, which means that by my calculations of the amount of cups I would occasionally waste, I’m actually saving money to get a much higher quality product!