Greek yogurt’s spike in popularity is no mystery. It’s pure, tangy, rich and delicious. According to industry figures, its sales rose dramatically over the past 10 years, slowing last year to an increase of 5 percent nationwide, making it one of the most popular items in the dairy sector.

This is great news for small regional yogurt producers such as Kalona SuperNatural of Kalona, Iowa. Its über thick, satisfying Greek yogurt has a permanent spot in my refrigerator. It’s so buttery smooth that scooping it from the carton is like spooning avocado right from its skin.

What makes this yogurt different? The cows. They graze on fields of timothy, clover and orchard grasses, and are tended by Amish and Mennonite farmers, whose farms have been in their families for nearly 150 years. The average herd size is a mere 35 cows compared with commercial operations that tend at least 1,000 head.

The milk is trucked to the co-packer, Westby Creamery of Westby, Wis., where it’s pasteurized and cultures are added. Then, using authentic Greek methods, the whey is strained off so the yogurt thickens slowly and naturally without the addition of artificial stabilizers. The Honey and Lavender, Vanilla and Lavender, Pomegranate and Orange flavors are lush and not overly sweet, but I find that the complex taste of the plain is the most intriguing and versatile. It’s rich enough to stand in for sour cream on tacos, gives body to cold summer soups, and is lovely spooned over fruit or on its own, drizzled with honey.

Kalona Organics, the company that handles Kalona SuperNatural sales and marketing, is one of a family of eight businesses in the Open Gates Group. Founded by Bill Evans in 2003, the group provides logistics, warehouse, trucking, provisioning and related services to Kalona SuperNatural, as well as other small companies.

Kalona SuperNatural products can be found in more than 60 stores throughout Minnesota and across the greater Midwest in many supermarkets, including Whole Foods Market, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and Hy-Vee, as well as food co-ops.

Evans describes Open Gates Group as “an entrepreneurial-minded company that focuses on growing organic and local food supply chains.”

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