If you ever wonder about the sort of thing that goes on in Albany, I’ve got an answer for you. Yogurt summits. That’s what goes on in Albany. Now you can stop thinking about Albany.
But don’t stop thinking about yogurt! Because yogurt is big business in New York and Governor Cuomo wants to champion the rapidly growing industry and make sure that our appetite for Greek-style yogurt and Pinkberry doesn’t slow down.
The New York Times reported from Albany, where a basically giddy Governor Cuomo told the assemblage of “food industry executives, politicians, and reporters” that this was an event for posterity, “This is a historic day. You can all go home and say, ‘I was at the first Yogurt Summit ever in the history of the State of New York.’”
The yogurt industry has expanded explosively in the last decade, a fact which is evident even in the most bare-bones of bodegas which still have a wide selection of yogurts with hard to pronounce names. I mean, I’m still unsure of how to say “Fage” even though it tells you how to pronounce it right there on the package.
But despite the brand names which imply that these yogurts are being produced on some remote Greek island, many of the most recognizable brands, like Chobani, Fage, and Siggi’s are produced right here in New York state. The industry has been a tremendous boon to the dairy farm regions in upstate New York, regions that have been economically floundering in the recent past. As everyone at the yogurt summit learned, the dairy “industry has been growing because of the exploding popularity of Greek-style yogurt, which requires significantly more milk to produce than does regular yogurt.” In addition to that, the growth of the yogurt companies themselves have created hundreds of jobs. Chobani alone has grown from having 5 employees in 2005 to its current size of 1,200 employees in New York state.
Lest you think that there is no dark side to society’s new found love for yogurt, pesky environmentalists were also on hand to point out the potential problems that an unfettered supply of smooth, creamy goodness could unleash. Environmental groups pointed out that more dairy production means more cows and that can have major drawbacks because of things like an increased supply of cow farts (no, really.) Another issue that was brought up was fracking. The Times reports that the “meeting was also protested by people opposed to Mr. Cuomo’s expected plan to allow limited hydraulic fracturing in New York, which environmentalists worry could taint groundwater; demonstrators, some dressed as cows, pleaded, ‘Save our yogurt, ban fracking.'”
Hopefully, though, the environmental impacts will be considered and not ignored, and Cuomo will not ruin his legacy of positive social change by completely destroying our water supply with the introduction of fracking (because have you seen how in Pennsylvania water can now be set ON FIRE because of fracking?)
And then it will be New York-made yogurt for everyone! Except for the lactose-intolerant. Or vegans. But everyone else!
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen