Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Ricera Rice Yogurt
One-word verdict: Barf. (Trust me, it accurately describes the color and the textures of this stuff, and the taste is not far behind.)
The backstory: I noticed a new brand on the Whole Foods yogurt shelves recently--Ricera, a yogurt made from rice. Interesting! I thought. A quick look at the long ingredients list and high sugar and calorie count, however, told me that this was probably not the yogurt for me. But when it went on sale this week, I picked up a cup of the peach flavor in the name of research.
Nutrition: For a yogurt that's so low in fat, the calorie count is pretty high, thanks to a lot of carbohydrates (42 grams total carbs in a 6-ounce cup). Per 6 ounces of the peach flavor, you get 190 calories, 25 grams sugar, and 0 grams saturated fat (1 gram total fat). This also includes 3 grams fiber, which is nice, but only 3 grams protein, which is significantly less than you'll find in most dairy and soy yogurts.
The cup proudly announces that it's nondairy, and a tiny icon communicates that it's kosher, but I had to go to the company's website for confirmation that it's gluten-free (it is). That a rice-based product clearly geared toward the allergy market wouldn't make sure to put this information on the cup baffled me, but soon I realized it's the least of their problems...
Well, how is it? I needn't have worried about the calories, because I couldn't bring myself to finish it.
Upon removing the foil lid, I was accosted by a substance of a pukey brown color that smelled mildly fermented. The texture was slightly thicker than applesauce and gritty, interspersed with chunks of rice and maybe small pieces of peach (it was hard to tell).
The taste could also only be described as "fermented," with a bitter aftertaste and, at times, a hint of generic peach flavor. This, combined with the muddy color and gloppy, baby-food-like texture, made for a pretty disgusting "yogurt"-eating experience.
Where's it made? The product is "Distributed" by Ricer Foods in Middletown, California--2,907 miles from NYC.
Ingredient notes: To complement its nasty taste and uninspiring nutritional profile, Ricera has the longest ingredients list I've ever seen on a yogurt-like product. We start with "Organic Oryzalife," a patented blend of water, organic brown rice, and rice protein, followed by organic evaporated cane juice (sweetener) and organic peaches. After that starts the slew of (organic!) thickeners, flavorants, and preservatives, including tapioca starch, tapioca syrup, inulin, locust bean gum, natural flavors, agar, citric acid, pectin, and annatto. Yeesh! Also in the mix are salt, several vitamins and minerals, and four yogurt cultures.
I've said before that alternative yogurts usually need some extra ingredients to help them attain the texture of dairy yogurt, and I stand by that...but this seems excessive.
Processing/Earth-/Animal-friendliness: The container is your standard #5 plastic with a foil lid. To Ricera's credit, most of their ingredients are organic (where did they find that organic locust bean gum?), though with such a long ingredients list you have to assume that components of this yogurt are being trucked in from far and wide.
Price: I picked a 6-ounce cup up at Whole Foods on sale for $1 today, and I have to say I don't remember what the regular price is. I'll assume about $1.20. But trust me, even if it cost 20 cents you wouldn't catch me eating another cup of this dreck.
The bottom line: It tastes gross, it's high in sugar, and it doesn't exactly pass the "eat only food with a short list of ingredients you can pronounce" test. I commend the company for apparently being one of the only ones out there trying to cater to those hard-up yogurt lovers who are intolerant of both dairy and soy, but I think this product is going to need some serious rejiggering of its formula if it's going to score any repeat customers.
Ricera Rice Yogurt, Organic Peach:
taste: 0; texture: 0; sat fat: 2; naturally sweetened: 1; processing/earth-/animal-friendliness: 1
TOTAL = 4
Link: Ricera Rice Yogurt.