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Ice Cream: No Good Choices

May 18, 2011

Today is all about conflict of interests. Let me disclose them from the start.

1) Way back yonder in my advertising days I worked on some consumer packaged goods brands. Two of these were ice cream. Haagen Dazs wasn’t so bad to work on, but Edy’s was a nightmare. No small part of that had to do with the fact on the East Coast they are Edy’s, but on the west coast they are Dreyer’s (not to be confused with Breyer’s).

2) I am starting to make some personal connections with people at Price Chopper. We go to the same temple and serve on the same committees. Just yesterday I attended a meeting at Price Chopper’s corporate headquarters, which were surprisingly well appointed.

I mention these because recently I was involved in a little spirited tweet off with @PriceChopperNY about a new kind of ice cream recently made available in America.

It started off playfully before I addressed a more serious concern.

Ultimately it made me think of something that I have probably mentioned in bits and pieces in previous posts, but never combined into one cohesive argument. If you care about the things I care about when it comes to ice cream and dairy, I cannot recommend any national brands.

Haagen Dazs is great, especially with their commitment to use kitchen cabinet ingredients and their avoidance of gums and stabilizers. But they have yet to make a stand about rBST in the milk and cream they use in their product. For the record, I want to see a declaration on the package. What a company says they do is one thing, but packaging claims are serious business.

Ben & Jerry’s used to be great before they were bought and started adding food gums and other unsavory ingredients. So if you want an ice cream made from the milk and cream of cows that were not treated with rBST you have to be willing to chow down on something that contains ingredients you would never use when making ice cream yourself.

Pretty much everything else is loaded with air and gums and hormones and antibiotics.

This may just be the crazy talking, but I’ve now changed my entire family’s fluid dairy consumption to organic. It’s the antibiotics that really get me. But all the signs point to big dairy skirting around the FDA regulations, and when it looked like they were going to get caught with their pants down, the FDA delayed taking action. To me that’s a big red flag.  However, the answer isn’t even organic ice cream, because those too can contain the dreaded gums.

You know who has ice cream I can fully endorse? Wegmans. They have a line of products called Food You Feel Good About. And you’ll never guess what’s in their vanilla ice cream: Organic Cream, Organic Sugar, Organic Skim Milk, Organic Egg Yolks, Organic Vanilla Extract. That’s it. Wow.

But it probably costs $6 a pint. Since organic milk is more than twice the cost of conventional milk, it would make sense. However in Syracuse, according to Wegmans website they sell it for a remarkable $2.99. Wow. I have no idea how they do it.

See, that wasn’t so hard. But of course, they are neither a national brand nor are their products sold in the Capital Region. Luckily here we have Crisan’s gelato, which is made daily with fresh dairy from one of our top local farms. You can even buy pints of it now at Cardona’s. And while I haven’t given close scrutiny to the list of ingredients, given the bakery’s commitment to quality ingredients, I would be very surprised to see any junk in the gelato.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Katerbirch permalink
    May 18, 2011 9:56 am

    This is precisely why the mister and I make our ice creamy concoctions. We bit the bullet last summer and purchased a Cuisinart 2 qt ice cream maker – let me tell you, it is a dream to use. Mix the ingredients together, pour into frozen bowl, mix for 2-30 minutes, and voila, you’ve got a tasty treat! And, with making your own ice cream, you obviously control what goes into it. Sometimes this leads to crazy concoctions, but it can also lead to some of the best ice cream to ever pass through these lips.

  2. May 18, 2011 1:05 pm

    Doesn’t Breyer’s make kinds that are all-natural (just milk/cream/eggs/etc.)? Thought they did.

    • May 18, 2011 2:13 pm

      Breyers built their reputation on that, but have since added gums to their ice cream. There were actually two links in today’s post that would have brought you to the story below. It spells out the Breyers situation in detail, and further explains why I have little tolerance for gums in ice cream.

      http://fussylittleblog.com/2010/01/11/tearing-down-a-brand/

  3. Ellen Whitby permalink
    May 18, 2011 1:14 pm

    It’s nice that Wegman’s has that line of products but how can something be successful if it’s acronym is FYFGA?

  4. May 18, 2011 3:34 pm

    You can also have any gelato/sorbet in the case hand-packed at Crisan (since Cardona’s is getting specific flavors, so some days we’ll have flavors they don’t, while they’ll carry things we don’t always have–like Tiramisu).

    I can also verify that there isn’t anything freaky in the gelato or sorbet. We were just talking in the back today about the differences between using pistachio extract (which we don’t use, although not because it’s nefarious) and the actual nuts–the latter gives a much creamier, mild flavor–pretty much ever flavor in the case is made using whatever fruit/nut/whatever it is that the tag proclaims it to be. The ingredients are pretty much whatever you’d use to make ice cream yourself, besides the gelato machine :D

    Bummed about Breyer’s, it’s a shame. I love their mint chocolate chip (I am, inexplicably, of the mind that mint chocolate chip ice cream is weird when it’s green and their’s is white :D).

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