Keeping Cool with Ice Cream: How to Save, What to Buy (Part 1)

July 24th, 2010

It’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked. “If  I can’t afford to buy everything organic, what should I buy organic?” My response:  it depends on what you eat most often.

And in summer, when I declare ice cream “the divine right of children,” ice cream becomes a basic food group. (Particularly on days like today, when my car’s therometer hit 106 degrees.)

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

But the $5.69 price tag on a half gallon of organic ice cream can cause the most devoted organic fan to pause. I wondered if I was really spending my money wisely, so I decided to take a closer look at the prices and ingredients of some popular ice cream brands.

My neighbor is a big fan of Edy’s. It’s what she served at a recent Cub Scout picnic (you remember —  the one where the parents covertly drank wine from water bottles). I wondered if I was a fool for shelling out $5.69 for Alden’s organic ice cream, when the kids seemed perfectly happy with the $2.69 per gallon Edy’s (And they do have a really cool spumanti flavor). So I took a closer look at Edy’s ice cream ingredients, and in addition to  the usual milk, cream, and sugar,  here’s what I found:

Ick. Corn syrup’s bad enough, but artificial flavors and trans-fats are on nearly every Mom’s “avoid” list – organic fanatic or not.

And think about it. That’s just what they’re required by law to list. No where will you see that the milk came from cows treated with hormones or the corn from pesticide laden fields – we can just infer that, because it’s not organic.

When I went to Edy’s web site to double check the ingredients list, I found another fun fact: Edy’s (along with Dreyer’s) is owned by Nestle, a company whose products many of us try to avoid.

What’s in the organic ice cream I love? Nothing I can’t pronounce. Just simple, wholesome ingredients that are organic – which means there’s no hormones, no pesticides, and no Genetically Modified Organisms.

And a bonus discovery was learning that instead of being owned by a controversial global conglomerate, Alden’s is family owned. It’s part of the Oregon Ice Cream Company, which has been making ice cream for 80 years.

Now here’s the really good news. When I was at Whole Foods River Road in Bethesda on Friday, Aiden’s was on sale for $5.19 a gallon, until July 27th. So now’s the time to try.

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Of course I’m not a total zealot. My kids buy ice cream from the Good Humor man. And I do buy other brands of ice cream from time to time. But let’s talk about that in my next post, when we’ll look at how organic ice cream stacks up to my childhood favorite, Breyer’s, and cult favorite Ben and Jerry’s.

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Meanwhile, stay cool in this heat wave!

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Disclosures: I am one of those endangered species of bloggers that actually blogs about things I buy with my own money. No one sent me ice cream. A PR rep didn’t pitch this story.   I’m not consulting for any of these companies. I just love ice cream, love organics, and love blogging about both and thought I’d share with you!

13 Responses to “Keeping Cool with Ice Cream: How to Save, What to Buy (Part 1)”

  1. Tweets that mention Organic and Green Mom Blog | Keeping Cool with Ice Cream: How to Save, What to Buy (Part 1) at Organic Mania -- on July 24, 2010 4:31 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lynn Miller and Whitney Lauritsen, Repurify. Repurify said: Good post. I need ice cream, it is sweltering in #Indiana! RT @organicmania: Is #organic ice cream worth it? I weigh in: […]

  2. Enya on July 24, 2010 4:46 pm

    I’m love me my ice cream but I can’t bear to buy anything but Ben and Jerry’s for our house. I’m not militant about organic ice cream. When we’re out, I let the kids buy the crappy soft serve they love so much. The stuff I keep around the house is Ben and Jerry’s because I haven’t found an organic brand I love. I tried Alden’s and it just didn’t do anything for me. Not worth the calories.

  3. wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas on July 24, 2010 5:28 pm

    I love ice cream, too…and spend my own money to review mine. I totally agree that organic is the way to go. Eating ice cream should be a purely enjoyable experience, not one during which you should have to try to ignore the nagging “You know there’s corn syrup in there…” voice in your head.

  4. Lynn on July 24, 2010 6:42 pm

    Hi Enya, thanks for the comment! My boys are crazy for Alden’s…as for me, I love Julie’s Organic which turns out to be a brand by the same firm (the Mother made Julie’s and her son started Alden’s). The flavors are more adult-like. Some really great fruit flavors! I’m with ya on B&J’s, but why do they only come in those little pints? :)

  5. Lynn on July 24, 2010 6:44 pm

    Yes, and I’ve also noticed that if you eat “real” ice cream, you don’t need as much as if you eat the kind with either artificial flavors or zero fat. Sometimes a little bit of something great goes a long way! Thanks for your comment, Wendy!

  6. Enya on July 24, 2010 7:16 pm

    The organic stuff is usually made old school. The conventional ice creams are usually pumped full of air. This way they have to use less material to fill the container. Less material equals more profit since they are sold by volume not weight. When you pick out ice cream, you should compare the weight of two different brands with the same volume. You’ll see a difference in weight. This might explain why you eat “less” of the good stuff.
    .-= Enya´s last blog ..Wordful Wednesday- Processing Chickens =-.

  7. Lori on July 24, 2010 7:35 pm

    Thanks for the great post. It has been a hot summer in the Boston area so we are eating a lot of ice cream. We do buy organic but we tend to mix it up a little. I like Breyers All Natural flavors. Breyers All Natural has very few ingredients: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Natural Tara Gum, Natural Vanilla Flavor.

  8. Annie @ PhD in Parenting on July 25, 2010 1:14 am

    Nestle owns so many ice cream brands. I bet there are a lot of people who think they are avoiding Nestle, but end up buying it because they don’t know. Their ice cream brands include Nestle, Dreyer’s, Edy’s, Häagen-Dazs, Movenpick, Skinny Cow and more.

    While in Berlin this summer, we’ve been enjoying the large selection of organic ice cream places at very reasonable prices. Back to reality soon….
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..Adult privilege is exacerbated when children are a minority =-.

  9. Lynn on July 25, 2010 1:28 pm

    We just lost power due to huge storm in DC. Thinking of a block party with ice cream!

  10. Lynn on July 25, 2010 3:39 pm

    Lori & Annie, thanks for your comments! Looks like I won’t have that follow-up post up for a while since we’ve lost power due to a huge storm! I just had a street party to eat all the ice cream (typing this on my iPhone!)

    NOW I may gladly accept rebate coupons for ice cream since my entire summer stock and “organic savings” just got eaten up at the block party! :)

    Last time there was an outage this big, people went without power for a week!

  11. Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green on July 26, 2010 9:03 pm

    I love Alden’s! I have some vanilla in the freeze at all times. Ben & Jerry’s is good too, love that they are going fair trade and use mostly real ingredients.

  12. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Power Outage: What Would You Save From Your Fridge? at Organic Mania on August 13, 2010 7:40 pm

    […] As luck would have it, I had just bought enough organic, natural and rGBH-free ice cream to last the summer. “Savings!” I told my husband. “I stocked up! And I’ll blog about it!” […]

  13. Organic and Green Mom Blog | It’s Finally Here! Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! And This May Be the Last Year to Make it Organic! at Organic Mania on February 5, 2011 12:26 pm

    […] Why the concern about GMOs?  Where to start? The risks – to autism, allergies, infertility and more – are so well documented that surveys going back five years or more show that most Americans would prefer to avoid GMOs if given the choice. But since GMOs are not labeled in this country, the only sure way to avoid them is to buy organic – one of the main reasons I buy organic, as I’ve blogged here here and here. […]

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