As we swiped our WesIDs and strolled into the Usdan Marketplace this past weekend, we were very satisfied to see that our favorite on-campus eatery has lost none of its former glory. All week, the vegan section has been serving up its typical dishes of curried cauliflower and cashew mac n’ cheese, the pizza station offering its normal array of unique toppings, and the pastabilities and omelette lines overflowing with excited freshmen. To the average Wesleyan student, everything might seem exactly the same; however, if you pay close attention, it becomes clear that the Bon Appetit dining service has in fact made a fairly significant change. We call it “The Ronnybrook Revolution”, and we’re pretty excited about it.

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Ronnybrook is a farm located in Ancramdale, New York, and run by the Ofofsky family. They began manufacturing their delicious dairy products in 1941, and have expanded to become a hugely successful enterprise. Even with a Milk Bar located in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, a 24-hour frozen yogurt shop at some Duane Reed locations, and a huge following within the tri-state area, they still manage to uphold the values that Nana and Papa Osofsky instilled so many years ago. All of their products are completely organic and local, and are never made with pesticides or artificial growth hormones. Because the farm is only an hour and a half away from Middletown, fresh products are shipped in three times a week. When you drink a glass of Ronnybrook milk, you can rest assured that the cow who provided you with that delicious beverage is grass-fed, lives in a comfortable stall barn, and is awarded with her fair share of relaxing pasture time every single day.

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Here’s a quick science lesson: You may also notice a very creamy texture and rich taste to your Ronnybrook milk or yogurt, which can be attributed to the fact that the milk is unhomogenized. This means that the fat particles are not broken up during processing, resulting in a thick layer of cream at the top of the milk bottle. What’s the upside to unhomogenized milk? Not only does it have a creamier taste, but it is also much more healthful. The tiny fat particles in homogenized milk are easily absorbed by the villi in our intestines. With unhomogenized milk, it is much more difficult for the large fat particles to be absorbed, so you don’t have to feel as guilty about drinking a beverage that many people claim to be “fatty.” Futhermore, Ronnybrook milk products are not overly pasteurized, which preserves the abundance of natural protein and enzymes that help build muscle and support our immune systems.

Now, you might be thinking that this farm’s ideals are perfectly in snyc with the values of the Wesleyan community. Coincidence? No, not really, since the current farmers/distributors of Ronnybrook products are actually Wesleyan alumni. Rick and Kate Osofsky graduated in 1966 and 1994 respectively. We were able to have a brief email conversation with the Osofsky’s, who said that they are extremely pleased to be bringing a part of their farm back to their beloved alma mater.

Executive Chef of Bon Appetit Brian Dagnall is just as pleased as we are about the new addition of Ronnybrook products. “It’s probably the best milk you can get around here,” he said. With more than 12 years of culinary experience at reputable restaurants around the world, Dagnall looks to promote locally grown, organic, pesticide-free products as much as possible.

Although Ronnybrook is slightly more expensive than the University’s previous dairy distributor (as well as those at many other college dining halls), Dagnall believes that the nutritional and environmental values of the Wesleyan community warrant paying the extra money to purchase these products. As of now, the only dairy in the Usdan Marketplace that isn’t manufactured by Ronnybrook is the ice cream, which is still distributed by Hershey’s. However, Dagnall is hoping to eventually make Ronnybrook the exclusive dairy product available in the facility.

At this point, you can purchase glass bottles of Ronnybrook creamline milk (the best seller on campus right now), several flavors of individually packaged milk, yogurt, and yogurt drinks at WesShop and the Usdan Café. At the Marketplace, you can indulge in a delicious soft-serve strawberry or vanilla frozen yogurt; plain yogurt served at the salad bar; and chocolate, 2%, or skim milk. Not to mention that Ronnybrook products are being used in the preparation of the baked goods and foods served. If you asked us, we’d say we feel pretty lucky to have such quality products being served on our campus. In fact, Wesleyan is the first Bon Appetit-affiliated university to offer Ronnybrook goods. In addition, WesShop is the only retail location where you can purchase this brand in Middletown, Connecticut.

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Naturally, the only way to test the quality of the new dairy products was by tasting them ourselves, so that’s exactly what we did. In a matter of 4 days, we tasted most of the Ronnybrook products, including the milk, butter, yogurt, frozen yogurt, and yogurt drinks. We also took to the masses, getting opinions from Wesleyan students on their thoughts about the switch. One of the greatest hits is the frozen yogurt, which is so creamy and indulgent that it can be easily mistaken for soft serve ice cream. We’re personally huge fans of the strawberry flavor, which has a genuine fruity taste as well as a very organic color that differs from the bubblegum pink concoctions that you will often see with fruit flavored soft serve.

Upon first tasting the frozen yogurt, most people remark on its creaminess. “It’s excellent”, comments sophomore Katie O’Brien “especially with a heath bar.” O’Brien is not the only person to mix the soft serve with other ingredients. Popular toppings include raspberry preserves, walnuts, granola, and chia seeds.

Vanilla soft-serve frozen yogurt with chocolate sprinkles

Vanilla soft-serve frozen yogurt with chocolate sprinkles and heath bar topping

The yogurt drink was the one product that didn’t get stellar reviews across the board. After tasting the blueberry-pomegranate flavor, which is one of several varieties including honey vanilla, banana, peach, strawberry, and mango, Aissa Gueye ’15 admitted that it was better than any other yogurt drink she had ever had, but that the texture was strange, and she might prefer it if it had been served to her with a spoon. Demi Char ’15 agreed, adding that it had a sour taste and was too thick. Despite negative comments, most students concluded that it was better than any other yogurt beverage they had tasted. Danielle Pruitt ‘15 remarked that it tastes really fresh. “It doesn’t have an overbearing yogurt flavor. It’s light,” she said. O’Brien continued to explain that although she normally doesn’t like yogurt drinks, this product tastes authentic. She was also impressed by the 5 grams of protein and live, active probiotic cultures in the beverage.

Sophomore Noah Masur enjoys a blueberry-pomegranate yogurt drink

Of all of the products, the chocolate milk has gotten some of the best reviews. Students take delight in its thick texture and rich chocolate flavor. Tess Jonas ‘15, who purchased the non-fat variety, claimed that she had it as a dessert, and it was very satisfying. “Like Nesquik, but better,” remarked Jonas. Upon taking the first sip, two students exclaimed “Why is this the best chocolate milk I’ve ever tasted?” and “It’s like liquid Fudgesicle!” They were overjoyed by its creaminess, and noted that it tasted similar to a chocolate milkshake. Gueye agreed that it was very creamy, but in a light way, stating that you could definitely “taste the quality.” Char found it to be “really refreshing, a drink that would be satisfying any time of the year.”

Sophomore Andrea Schindler claims that Ronnybrook chocolate milk is “like a liquid Fudgesicle!”

With the Greek yogurt fad that is circulating nationwide, many students were hesitant when asked to try Ronnybrook’s traditional yogurt. That being said, most reviews came back positive. One student claimed that despite the strong presence of maple in the maple vanilla variety, you could still enjoy the tangy quality, which was what she liked most about Greek yogurt. Although we received some complaints that the flavor had a tangy sourness that was overwhelming to their taste buds. Most admitted that despite their personal feelings about the taste, they could tell that the yogurt was of good quality.

When informed of Ronnybrook’s costliness and asked whether or not they would still be willing to purchase the products, the general consensus was that the milk was absolutely worth it. Many students claimed that they could definitely taste a difference between Ronnybrook chocolate milk and other chocolate milk varieties. When asked if they would purchase the yogurts, those who didn’t have a predilection towards Greek yogurt said that they absolutely would. Others explained that, should they be in the mood for an American style yogurt, they would definitely purchase Ronnybrook over a larger more commercial company.

At first, the switch to Ronnybrook went unnoticed by the student body, but now it seems to be flying off the shelves. While walking through WesShop today, we noticed that many varieties of the individually packed milks and yogurt drinks were sold out. In Usdan, there was a line for milk, something that we have rarely seen throughout our time at Wesleyan. Although none of the students were aware of Ronnybrook or its affiliation with our community, once we informed them of the values and beliefs of the company, they became excited to support them, stating that they fully support locally grown, natural food products, especially ones that are created by Wesleyan alumni.

“While walking through WesShop today, we noticed that many varieties of the individually packed milks and yogurt drinks were sold out.”

Overall, we couldn’t be more thrilled that Bon Appetit decided to switch to Ronnybrook dairy products. True, it costs a bit more, but the difference in quality makes it completely worth it. We are proud to say that the heads of the Ronnybrook organization are alumni of our school. We are proud that a product that is so organic in every aspect of its production is being served at our dining halls, and we are thrilled that because of Ronnybrook dairy, life at Wesleyan just got 10 times more delicious.

Ari Rudess ‘15

Alex Irace ‘15