Yogurt Is Healthy — But Which Is Safest To Eat in Beijing?

Last week I discussed the fascinating results from a large study which showed how regular use of yogurt can actually cause weight loss. Yes, this is for real, and I found the findings impressive enough to encourage all my readers to start eating yogurt daily. Sounds easy, yes? Sure, it should be — but not here in China. As many Chinese readers on my Weibo microblog pointed out, which brand of yogurt in China is safest to eat?

Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question: dairy scandals have rocked China since 2008′s horrifying infant formula scandal, when hundreds of thousands of children got sick — and some died — due to melamine contamination and kidney failures. I think, here in Beijing, it’s best to stay local and organic with dairy companies. I’m a big fan of yogurt for breakfast, and I usually use Herun yogurt, which is only 7RMB in most local expat and some local markets. (it’s in the photo below on the left). It’s not organic but it is locally made, is unsweetened and tastes very good. Plus, it’s the creamiest one I know; most Chinese yogurts are smooth and poured out of a carton. The Wondermilk company also makes yogurt from their US-owned Hua Xia dairy farm (www.wondermilk.cn). As for pure organic, the Green Yard organic dairy makes yogurt and is sold in many spots. ( My thanks to the blog Haw Berries & Kumquats for this last tip!). Ideally, if the organic farms are verified to be truly organic, I would stick with organics.

What about my readers — which do you use?

Beijing Yogurt Herun Wondermilk

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7 thoughts on “Yogurt Is Healthy — But Which Is Safest To Eat in Beijing?”

  1. I am the founder of Beijing Organic Consumers Yahoo group, and I have visited Green Yard farm. I also have information straight from Wondermilk about their operation.

    GY: has approximately 650 cows, a little over half of which are milking at any time. The cows rotate their time in “shifts” – in sunshiney pasture eating grass, in partially shaded sandlot (like a waterbed for cows, someone unaffiliated with GY but who is in the industry told me) eating, and milking. They are milked couple times a day, starting early in the morning, 4:30am, I think, and that is sent out on the next day’s milk delivery. I want to stress that, unlike other major brands which have upwards of 6,000 cows housed in biiiiig warehouse like barns, the quality of life of the GreenYard cows is truly superb (I was very skeptical, I was honestly trying to get a “scoop” or an expose, so I snuck around back through the cow pattie field even, to get a “real” look at the conditions- nothing but very content and healthy cows hanging around in the lovely surroundings)

    Green Yard cows are fed only these 4 things: Organic Certified hay shipped in from Inner Mongolia, regular sticky Corn grown on site, Organic certified carrots, and the grass there in the pasture. No feed whatsoever. To contrast, the Wondermilk representative Karen McBride wrote recently on Beijing Cafe that their cows receive 19 different types of commercial feed.

    According to a 2010 USA Today article, 85 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is (GMO) genetically modified corn: Bt corn is the most widespread of these, and it is mostly being used in the dairy industry and meat industry in cattle feeds.

    Bt corn works like this: the inserted gene produces a toxin, an insecticide, which kills a certain type of pest- a weevil I think- when it eats the corn, preventing reproduction and proliferation.

    Recent research has shown that the Bt insecticide – contrary to what the industry claimed- is not simply destroyed in the gut and removed through the feces.

    A small study recently showed that traces of the Bt toxin is detectable in 93 per cent of the pregnant mothers. It was also found in 80 per cent of the umbilical cords.

    It appears to cross the placenta to gestating babies in the womb. What actual effect this has is yet unknown.

  2. We have dairy allergies in the family, but we take probiotics- much higher bacteria count (the amounts in yogurt are negligible, unless you make it yourself and “cook” it for 24 hours or so- our brand of probiotics has 5 billion per capsule) Plus there are a range of beneficial organisms available in probiotics, not just lactobacillus. Plus probiotics are said to survive the environment of the stomach much better than yogurt- especially when they come in certain types of capsules that only dissolve in the alkaline environment of the small intestine, if I”m not mistaken. Please correct me if my understanding is incomplete or incorrect!

  3. I usually have two tubs of Herun yoghurt in the fridge – one plain, for cooking (great in Indian curries) and one flavoured, for regular eating! I love yoghurt, but dislike the watery-sugary concoctions mostly available here, and the imported yoghurts are too expensive to justify eating every day. But plain yoghurt is, well, plain. So I flavour my own yoghurt. I lightly stew finely cut fruit and mix it into a tub of Herun – it has a great creamy consistency!

    My favourite “recipe” is to put a finely chopped apple and a handful of frozen berries (I like a mix of raspberries and blackberries) in a small saucepan and simmer until the apple starts to soften and takes on the berry colour/flavour. I cool it and then stir through a tub of yoghurt. You can add a tsp each of lemon juice and sugar while stewing on the stove but I often just do it plain – there’s enough water in the apple and enough sweetness in the berries to make a nice mix.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I also like Herun for their creamy taste; I always use it each morning as a base for a fruit smoothie.

    1. Great article, Olivia! Anyone interested in making your own yogurt should definitely check out her article.

    2. I live in Chengdu and I make my own yogurt in my slow cooker. It has to cook awhile, but it takes only a total of 10-15 minutes of my time. I started making it for my first baby, who was born in 2008, because I didn’t trust Chinese brands, but now we all love it. It’s not sweet (a plus for us) and it’s thicker than what you can buy here. Here’s the site with instructions on how to make it in the slow cooker.


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