Peak Yogurt has triple the fat of most yogurts currently on the market. (courtesy of Peak Yogurt)
An avid climber, Evan Sims found that a diet high in animal fats worked best to give him the energy he needed. In fact, it wasn’t unheard of for Sims to drink a pint of heavy cream for dinner, and eat half a stick of butter before scaling a peak. (He tried to eat a whole one, but couldn’t).
He did this before scaling a granite monolith called the Incredible Hulk in the Sierras, “and it was the first time I really showed myself you can fuel these activities with fat.”
Sims, who lives in San Francisco and worked as a chemical engineer – specifically in fermentation – for about five years, is starting a new venture, with a product unlike anything on the market. He’s calling it “triple cream yogurt.”
“I was ready for something different, and I’ve gotten really interested in nutrition and health food in a serious way,” he said.
While “Peak Yogurt” (the brand name) isn’t available yet, Sims has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help bring it to market.
And savvy marketer that he is, he already has the endorsement of San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market, whose owner Sam Mogannam has given the yogurt his highest endorsement, saying “The Greek yogurt is the best I’ve ever tasted.”
A self-described “former sugar junkie,” Sims has now become an evangelist for animal fat. He’s cut out all sugar from his diet, as well as gluten, and while he pretty much believes in the Paleo diet, he doesn’t want his yogurt to be limited to Paleo followers, as “it’s hard to put the stuff in your mouth and not fall for the explosion of creamy smoothness that it has,” he said.
While he hopes the pro-animal fat Paleo crowd will buy his product, there is a whole other segment of people who “just like good food and taste it and love it and don’t have strong views about nutrition or any particular diet trends. Just tasting it and liking it is enough to get them excited about it,” said Sims.
Peak Yogurt is unique, he said, because the yogurts with the highest fat content on the market tend to be marketed as dessert.
Furthermore, he said, many yogurt brands have numerous chemicals in them, as well as lots of added sugar. “Most of what’s out there is nonfat or lowfat and really sugary,” he said. “It’s like a hidden junk food.”
As a chemical engineer Sims worked on the cultures that the major manufacturers use to make yogurt. He then began by making his own yogurt, adding heavy cream to a base of whole milk in a three to one ratio.
Making your own yogurt, Sims said, is “easy to learn and really fun as you just heat up some milk, put the culture in, let it set in an incubator and taste it the morning.”
Whole milk yogurt at the supermarket is usually 3.5 percent milk fat, while Peak Yogurt is 12 percent; whole milk Greek yogurt at the supermarket is usually around five or six percent, while Peak Greek Yogurt is 18 percent.
The crowdfunding campaign is to bring only the Greek yogurt to market, as Peak Yogurt's first product.
“I call these triple cream yogurts because the ratio from fat to protein is three to one. Triple cream brie is similar,” he said.
Sims already has made significant headway in bringing his product to market. He will source all of his dairy products – organic, of course – from Clover Stornetta in Petaluma, and Pavel’s Yogurt in San Leandro will be the co-packer, meaning the company will make it separately as per Sims’ instructions and package it for him in its preexisting facility.
The question of how much animal fat one should consume remains highly controversial.
Sims believes that conventional wisdom about too much animal fat being bad for you “never had a strong scientific basis, it was an idea that was driven by politics and special interests in the food industry rather than any kind of scientific consensus.”
However, such major medical centers such as the Mayo Clinic continue to advise people to eat a diet low in saturated fat, noting that it can cause a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.
By launching Peak Yogurt, Sims said he is inventing a new category of yogurt. While he’s thinking of adding flavors in the future, he’s adamant there won’t be any sugar in them, because “every food in the supermarket probably has added sugar in it.” He recommends eating his with a bit of honey if desired, as you can control how much you use.
“One fact that startled me was that most popular nonfat yogurts, which historically sell the best, their added sugar makes up 35 to 55 percent of the calories," said Sims. "People think of fruit-flavored yogurt as a healthy alternative but it’s not accurate.”
As someone who loves the natural tang of plain yogurt, I missed it here. And I can’t say I’m actively seeking ways to get more animal fat into my diet. Yet Peak Yogurt tastes as Sims said – the creamy mouth feel gets you upon first spoonful.