With July being the hottest month of the year, we celebrate National Ice Cream Month. National Ice Cream Day is also held on the third Sunday of July.
Ice cream is one of the most profitable industries. Over 1.3 billion gallons of ice cream is produced every year. Ice cream adds $13 billion dollars to the economy with 29,000 direct jobs from it and $1.8 billion in direct wages. Also, the average American consumes 20 pounds of ice cream annually.
While ice cream is a big business, only a small portion of the ice cream makers use real ingredients. The majority of ice cream uses milk which comes from factory farms and fed genetically modified corn and soy. The sweeteners used, such as beet sugar and corn syrup, also contain GMOs . Many of the ingredients are sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. Conventional ice cream ingredients also consist of artificial flavors and colorings. Plus ice creams have become largely batch frozen and loaded with air, fillers, and stabilizers.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of companies churning small batch ice cream the old fashioned way with grass fed milk and cream, organic and natural ingredients, and cane sugar. I’ve loved ice cream since I was a child, so this is “cool” in more way than one. As we celebrate National Ice Cream Month, it’s important to make better choices when chillin’ with this wonderful frozen comfort food.
Here are the 8 best grass fed ice creams:
In 2004, Oregon Ice Cream launched the Alden’s Organic label. Alden’s sources its organic milk and cream from family owned farms where cows graze a minimum of 120 days and are given plenty of access to fresh air. Their milk and cream are free of hormones and antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and flavors, GMOS, and carrageenan. In addition to their pints and quarts of ice cream, Alden’s also has ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches.
Alec Jaffe has a lifelong passion for both ice cream and sustainability. Alec learned how to make ice cream for an elementary school project. He also grew up visiting his relatives’ sustainable farms. Yet he didn’t know how these childhood moments would shape him until he was an adult and unhappy with the supermarket options for pints of ice cream. Knowing there could be better options, he perfected his ice cream making and set out to source the best ingredients. What Alec ended up with was the first regenerative organic ice cream with the name Alec’s Ice Cream. Alec’s is known for creative flavors such as honey blue lavender, salted caramel latte, and thr NEXTY Award winning peanut butter fudge honeycomb.
Cosmic Bliss started out in 2005 in Eugene, OR with an ice cream maker which the founders bought at a thrift shop for $1.50. They soon started a business known as Coconut Bliss, which sold organic coconut milk ice cream. As their business expanded, they felt it was also best to expand the type of products they offer. This way they’d be able to move into new spaces which would help transform the food industry. They felt it was time launch a grass fed ice cream as factory and conventional farming aren’t sustainable or healthy for the animals, the people, or the planet. So in 2022, Coconut Bliss became Cosmic Bliss. At this time, they also started donating 1% of their annual revenue to the international organization 1% for the Planet. Some of Cosmic Bliss’ grass fed ice choices include gooey caramel pecan pie, twisted cookie dough, and strawberry lemon shortbread.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
As an art and art history student, Jeni Britton first made ice cream in 1996 at the age of 22. Jeni loved blending her own oils and threw them into various foods. One day she added cayenne to her chocolate ice cream. She loved the balance of being sweet, cold, and flaming in the same product. From this point on, Jeni knew she’d be making ice cream the rest of her life. In 2002, she opened her first Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams shop in the North Market in Columbus, OH. She now has 65 scoop shops as well as pints sold at supermarkets across the United States. Her ingredients include milk from family dairy farms, fair and direct trade chocolate, and fresh fruits and vegetables. From the beginning, Jeni’s Ice Cream has gone for unique varieties and now has ones including brambleberry crisp, watermelon taffy, and everything bagel.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was founded by Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell after they had just moved to Santa Barbara in 1949. In the 1930s, Mac owned some of the first health food stores in the country and was looking for an idea. After having a bowl of vanilla ice cream one night, he realized how creameries had moved away from using real ingredients. Mac felt it was time to make small batch ice cream again. Mac and Ernie turned to the Central Coast farmers where they could get annual and seasonal ingredients, grass grazed milk and cream, fruits, nuts, and produce. The McConnell’s made their own jams and caramels and baked their own inclusions. In 1950, they opened their first shop. After Gordon had passed away in 1962, the company was sold to Santa Barbara local Jim McCoy. Jim and his wife Jeney expanded the business into Southern California. In 2012, husband and wife Michael Palmer and Eva Ein became the third generation to own McConnell’s. Their ice cream is now sold in supermarkets across the United States. Some of the current limited release flavors of McConnell’s are matcha coconut crisp, toasted hazelnut butter, Garrison Brothers whiskey & pecan pralines, raspberry cheesecake & chocolate crust, & s’mores.
Moloko Ice Cream
Jonathan Miskevich, founder of Moloko Organic Ice Cream, grew up in St. Petersburg. Living in Eastern Europe, he spent summer vacations in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and on the Sea of Azov, where he consumed plenty of ice cream. After he moved to Los Angeles, he found it hard to find quality ice cream with the same taste and European flavors which he grew up with. So Jonathan made it his goal to bring European-style ice cream to the American crowds. He named his ice cream Moloko as it’s Ukrainian/Russian for milk. Initial flavors of Moloko include black currant, chocolate mousse/Russian milk chocolate, and creme brulee.
Straus Family Creamery
The story of Straus Family Creamery originates with the farm founder/CEO Albert Straus grew up on. Albert’s father Bill started his dairy farm in the early 1940s in Marshall on the shores of Tomales Bay. Bill’s wife Ellen joined him in 1950. The couple began with a small farm of 23 cows. Albert was the oldest of four children. By the time all of the children had become adults, dairy farms were becoming larger and more industrial while the number of small dairy farms was declining. In the 1970s, Albert took over the farm and introduced bold solutions to keep family farming going and to maintain the land these farms were on. Some of these new practices were no longer using herbicides and chemical fertilizers, switching to no till planting, and a manure water pond system. But the biggest step Albert took was having the farm become organic and founding Straus Family Creamery to have the first 100% certified organic creamery. The certified organic milk is non-homogenized and bottled in recyclable glass. Ice cream is one of many dairy products which Straus offers. Other products are fluid milk, cream, sour cream, butter, and yogurt.
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream was first served by Ben and Pete Van Leeuwen and Laura O’Neill in a yellow food truck on the streets of New York City in 2008 with a mission to serve “good ice cream that makes you feel good”. A major part of being good was knowing that the ingredients in their ice cream were simple and clean. Van Leeuwen says “If it’s tough to pronounce, it’s probably tough to digest”. They also saw mental health and being happy as important as physical health. And using the real ingredients of milk, cream, eggs, and cane sugar for ice cream sounded like the key to happiness. Van Leeuwen currently has ice cream shops in five different states and will soon be opening locations in two more states. Their pints of ice cream and ice cream bars are also available at supermarkets across the country.