There's No Science in Yogurt, Says Chobani

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 5 2014 11:27 AM

There's No Science in Yogurt, Says Chobani

chobani
Seen here in the wild, a naturally occurring pyramid of individually packaged yogurts.

Photo from Chobani.

If you've been loving the Greek yogurt trend in the past few years, Chobani wants you to know something: There's no science in that perfect plastic cup. Look, credit where credit is due, right? And all credit should go to nature. Not science. Nature. Got it?

Actually, a number of people disagree with that message. And when they saw it on Chobani lids, it left a bad taste in their mouths. Understandably, people, including all different types of scientists, are frustrated with the characterization of science being at odds with nature. Especially since, as Popular Science explains, there is a ton of science in Chobani's yogurt. There's pectin and locust bean gum (two polysaccharides that thicken the yogurt), live and active cultures that are carefully monitored for gut health, and pasteurization. Now there's a process discovered by science that's not a big deal and didn't radically improve food safety around the world during the 19th century or anything.

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Chobani has reacted to the outcry and announced via its frenetic Twitter feed that it has discontinued use of the lids.

But the company still seems to think that the whole thing is just a joke gone awry, not the revelation of a fundamental misunderstanding. The "not scientists" lid positions "natural" ingredients at odds with chemical ingredients that might be produced by science. But as Michelle M. Francl pointed out in a Slate piece last year:

We are a chemophobic culture. Chemical has become a synonym for something artificial, adulterated, hazardous, or toxic. Chemicals are bad—for you, for your children, for the environment. But whatever chemophobics would like to think, there is no avoiding chemicals, no way to create chemical-free zones. Absolutely everything is made of atoms and molecules; it’s all chemistry.

The worst part may actually be Chobani's interpretation of the situation. The company (or at least whoever is tweeting for the company) seems to think that the issue here is that the lid was too clever and witty so people didn't get it.

Oh and by the way, author Dov Seidman recently sued Chobani for allegedly taking the use of "how" in the "How Matters" campaign from his book, HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything. Go home, Chobani, you're drunk on yogurt.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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