Today is that happy day known as Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day. And yes, we will be waiting in line with the rest of the sweet-and-freebie-loving masses.
1. Ben & Jerry’s is a socially conscious and sustainable company that buys milk and cream from a cooperative of farmers who’ve pledged to not use artificial growth hormones. It’s transitioning to cage-free eggs by the end of this year. And it’s committed to sourcing only fair-trade ingredients by the end of 2013.
2. We can find some flavors with just a handful of recognizable ingredients, unlike in many of my local ice cream shops that claim to make homemade ice cream, but in fact use pre-packaged base mixes loaded with fillers, then adulterated further with artificial flavors and colors, among other nasties.
3. Our local B&J shop owner is a nice guy who does a lot for the community.
4. Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, and I have a (big) problem with a lot of Unilever’s brands. But, with Ben & Jerry’s at least, Unilever has been smart enough not to mess (too much) with a good thing.
5. My daughter ate her very first ice cream at age 2.5 at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vt. Nostalgic stuff.
6. Ice cream tastes good.
Now if only they would come out with a maple flavor sweetened only with maple syrup we’d be there too! Till then I’ll stick with my homemade stuff. Plus I can make it Gelato style and use raw cream.
Didn’t you see the part about how it just tastes good… ?
OK, now I have to get all serious again. Minimally refined sweeteners are always my first choice, since our bodies work too hard and use up vital nutrients when metabolizing fully refined sugars. And maple syrup/sugar is my favorite because it’s local and retains trace minerals. Local honey, too. But sugar of any kind is just not that big a part of our diet, except for sugar that occurs naturally in fruit. And sugar in whole fruit is balanced by all the fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Bottom line: I don’t worry about a little Ben & Jerry’s or other not-too-scary ice cream now and then. Blue ice cream, though? Evil.
Oh, we definitely indulge in a little refined sugar now and then, especially on vacation when bringing our own healthy homemade treats isn’t feasible! BTW, I went to the WAPF program about measuring BRIX last night and am even more enthusiastic about the trace minerals in maple syrup (the whole point of measuring BRIX in produce is that it correlates with mineral levels in the food and can help you see if the organic produce you are buying really has more of the good stuff, not just less of the bad stuff!) Also, it reminded me to try to get more super nutritious blackstrap molasses into our diets. Hmmm…molasses ice cream maybe? Could taste like gingerbread!
(And of course all those lovely cakes from the bakery in PA.)
Glad to hear the BRIX presentation was interesting. I’d planned to go, but was too time-crunched. Gingerbread ice cream sounds pretty good.
I didn’t know this about Ben & Jerry’s! Thanks so much for sharing — I always choose socially conscious companies over the competition. Although I wish they would transfer to free range eggs rather than cage free, and that they’d do it NOW.
Sharon, I’m with you. I’d far prefer that Ben & Jerry’s source from farms where chickens roam freely and peck in the dirt. But I’m not sure that’s possible on the scale that B&J’s needs. One good thing is that Ben & Jerry’s is talking about “certified humane” cage-free eggs, which at least carries some standards. For instance, hens must have adequate space to engage in natural behaviors like nesting and dust-bathing. That doesn’t mean they must have access to the outdoors, though. So it’s not perfect. But at least it’s better than what most ice cream makers are doing.
While I do still participate in Free Cone Day and I do believe in the Ben and Jerry’s mission, sadly, the ingredients have been on a decline for a number of years now. Unilever is messing with a good thing. Too bad.
For me, it’s all about the ingredients. I agree that many “homemade” ice cream places are loaded with chemicals and pre-made “ice cream base”. The good news is that there are more and more small companies making good quality ice cream. Not too far from us is Ronnybrook Farms (http://www.ronnybrook.com/) they make good ice cream with real ingredients.
Definitely. It’s all about the ingredients, no matter whose name is on the label, or which company is behind it. Glad you’ve found a reliable local place. Still searching for one in my neck of the woods!
We went! Got our scoops of Late Night Snack… although I would much have preferred pretzel to potato chip chunks. I dislike that B&J is owned by Unilever, but I am glad they at least try to hold true to the original standards of the company.
Kira, we didn’t make it this year, but lots of friends ate chocolate vicariously for me.