Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pear-off!


The backstory: I love pears, and I think that whoever decided to put them in yogurt is a freakin’ genius. I discovered Liberté Six Grains Pear Yogourt from Canada a couple of years ago at my local Garden of Eden and was highly impressed. Then, at some point, they either changed their formula or corrected their labeling, and the calorie and sugar counts went up a bit, and I laid off for a while.

I thought that Liberté was the only company producing a pear yogurt, but recently I spied some new flavors from Wallaby Australian Style Yogurt on the shelf at Whole Foods, including Organic Nonfat Bartlett Pear! Immediately I resolved to buy a cup of each and engage Liberté and Wallaby in a bloody, peary duel for my affections. Who wins? Read on to find out.

Nutrition: A six-ounce cup of Liberté has 160 calories, 2 grams saturated fat, and 20 grams sugar. Wallaby weighs in at six ounces with 140 calories, 0 grams sat fat (in fact, no fat at all), and 22 grams sugar. So Wallaby wins on fat and Liberté wins on sugar…if we use calories as a tie-breaker, the first round goes to Wallaby (albeit not by very much).

Well, how is it?

Texture: The Liberté yogurt has a lovely, light and silky, European-style consistency. If you tip it, it will spill (I tested this on my shirt). It also contains distinct chunks of pear and is dotted through with six varieties of chewy grain (which, honestly, I could take or leave, but they don’t bother me). The color is a bright white.

The Wallaby yogurt is also pretty white and fairly spillable, though the texture is visibly grainier. Most notably, though, no pear chunks—this yogurt’s pear qualifications come only from pear juice concentrate.

(Interestingly, Wallaby claims to have styled its yogurts after the “deliciously distinctive” yogurts of Australia, citing their “creamy texture” and “delicate flavor.” Now, I have eaten yogurt in Australia, and while it was fine, it also wasn’t very distinct from the light, creamy stuff you’ll find in Europe, or Latin America, or Canada, or pretty much anywhere that isn’t the U.S. So unless I’m much mistaken, “Australian style” is really “European style with a cute marsupial on the cup.” Hey, it got me to look twice…)

Round two to Liberté.

Taste: When I took the lid off the Liberté yogurt, a distinctive pear smell hit me immediately and whetted my appetite. The product did not disappoint: It manages to maintain the sweet-but-a-little-sour nature of a pear throughout the gently tangy yogurt. In short, it tasted like real pear in there, and the yogurt tasted like the fermented milk product it is.

I had to lean in to get a whiff of Wallaby’s pear scent, and even with my nose right over the cup it was mild. As for the taste, it was sweet first, followed by a hint of peariness…followed by more sweet. The yogurty tang was almost nonexistent.

Round three to Liberté.

Where’s it made? Liberté yogurt is made in Brossard, Quebec, Canada (368 miles from NYC); Wallaby is made in American County, CA (2,872 miles from NYC).

Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: Both brands come in #5 plastic cups with foil lids.

Liberté is “Made with Vermont milk” (as they are all too happy to advertise on the containter, kind of like the Woodstock folks). The milk comes from the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery in Vermont, a collective of mostly small, family farms that does not allow the use of rbGH; however, it also doesn’t seem to have rules about antibiotics or feed, or guarantee its animals access to pasture. (St. Albans also supplies milk to Ben & Jerry's and to Stonyfield Farms for their nonorganic yogurts. You can learn more about them on Stonyfield’s Humane Animal Treatment Policy page here.)

Wallaby sources organic milk from Sonoma and Marin counties, which is by definition free of hormones and antibiotics and entails pasture access and organic feed for the cows. Wallaby has a rating of “four cows” (excellent) from the Cornucopia Dairy Survey, which measures elements such as pasture time and cow health and longevity.

Round four to Wallaby.

Ingredient notes: Liberté contains milk, pear base and grain preparation (natural apple extract, pears, water, barley, oat, rye, wheat, rice, buckwheat, native rice starch, natural flavour, pectin, citric acid), and four bacterial cultures. It gets points for being sweetened only with fruit, but points off for the multiple thickeners/stabilizers/flavorants.

Wallaby contains organic cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, organic evaporated cane juice, organic pear juice concentrate, natural flavor, pectin, locust bean gum. It also contains four bacterial cultures. Points off for having more sugar than fruit (which also, as I mentioned above, totally overpowers the yogurt’s flavor), though it has one less thickener/stabilizer/flavorant than Liberté.

This round’s a draw.

Price: Purchasing them at Whole Foods in NYC, the Liberté cost 99 cents and the Wallaby cost $1.09.

Round six to Liberté.

The bottom line: It looks like Liberté just edges out Wallaby, but if you’re going on taste and texture alone, it actually wins by a mile. I want to like Wallaby more than I do—their (organic) heart seems to be in the right place, they’ve just launched some interesting new flavors, and that marsupial on the yogurt cup is darned cute. But they’re going to have to up the fruit content and cut down on the sugar (I’d like to see a teaspoon less per cup) if they want my vote.

Until then, the Canadians have beaten the faux-Australians to a bloody, peary pulp.

Liberté Six Grains Pear, Stirred Yogourt, Pears and Grains
taste: 5; texture: 3; sugar: 1; sat fat: 1; price: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; animal friendliness: 0.5

TOTAL: 13.5/20

Wallaby Organic Bartlett Pear, Creamy Australian Style, Nonfat
taste: 3; texture: 2; sat fat: 2; price: 1; naturally sweetened: 1; animal friendliness: 1

TOTAL: 10/20

Links: Liberté Natural Foods.
Wallaby Yogurt.

3 comments:

NYHH said...

My favorite part? "If you tip it, it will spill (I tested this on my shirt)."

You are too, too cute. I really like reading this blog, hon. Keep it up!

sfxmaven said...

I also love this blog. It's so profesh looking, and fun. :)

TD said...

Y'all are too sweet! (Kind of like a Wallaby yogurt.)