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Keeping Ice Cream Consumption Green

By Karina | June 23, 2008

icecreamcone0623.jpgIt’s summertime around here, and I don’t know about y’all, but I love to eat ice cream, and summer is the best excuse there is to eat it. I love it so much that I don’t permit myself to keep a container of it in the freezer, because I will for sure eat the entire carton of ice cream at embarrassingly fast speeds. (Though this study states that the average consumption of ice cream in the US is 1.2 quarts PER WEEK per person!) If you try to think about ice cream too much, it’s not a very sustainable food. It’s made from milk, which is generally not organically farmed. Then the milk is transported to a processing facility where the ice cream is made. It must be frozen, which requires an energy input, and then transported – still frozen – all around the world (slight hyperbole but you get the point!). So I started to think about how I could be a little more sustainable when I eat ice cream, and I decided the best decision I can make is to eat locally-made ice cream and to walk there when I want a cone.

So this year I’ve been walking down to the locally-owned ice cream shop for a cone a couple of times a week. Ice Cream Charlie’s is a quick walk from my apartment and is located ironically next to my gym. By walking there I save on transportation costs of myself or of the ice cream. They make the ice cream locally, so it doesn’t have to be kept cold as it’s transported across the country. And it’s really really good, and I feel virtuous because I’ve walked there!

Some ice cream makers are aware of the environmental impact of their products: for example Ben & Jerry’s are often recognized for their commitment to sustainability, and they constantly strive to do better by the environment. In Seattle apparently there is an upsurge of local artesian ice cream shops – some of which are focused on local and organic ingredients. But I don’t live in Seattle, and Ben & Jerry’s, as delicious as it is, is still transported to my grocery store from Vermont. Think of the food miles!

There is a big chain ice cream shop down the block – also within walking distance – but chain stores also have the added impact of having to use branded paper goods and ingredients, which must be transported at distance from centrally located distribution points — another link on the environmental transportation impact chain. Plus there are several studies showing that economically, by supporting a locally owned business you keep more money in the local area – about 45%, compared to chains which pass through only about 13% in town. I don’t know how this would break down for a franchise, but the last time I left Ice Cream Charlie’s the owner held the door for us and wished us a good evening. And that’s just plain nice.

And of course it’s even more environmental if you eat your ice cream from a cone, not from a cup!

Do you have a local ice cream joint? Is it possible to walk to it?

Photo from flickr user whizchickenonabun via creative common license.

Topics: Food | 21 Comments »

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Comment by cat147
2008-06-23 07:16:55

sadly, we are not within walking distance of yummy ice cream. :( but, we are in love with Ciao Bella Gelato (www.ciaobellagelato.com) which started as a small storefront in NYC. They serve the country now but I feel lucky because I believe one of(?) their production centers is in Irvington, NJ (not too terribly far from where we live). however, looking at the website, now i’m feeling slightly guilty about some of the ingredients that go into the pints … chocolates and fruits from who knows where. hmmm.

if i had more time, i’d like to make my own ice cream and sorbets … i recall from college that this isn’t too difficult. AND, with this method you’d be able to control the ingredients … organic milk … local fruits.

happy summer!!

Comment by cat147
2008-06-23 07:18:01

oops … i messed up the html on that link above – sorry TC readers

Comment by BethR
2008-06-23 09:53:42

I’ve been meaning to make my own vegan ice cream for years…. ever since getting an issue of vegetarian time with a bunch of recipes. I like the idea of being able to control exactly what goes into it.

Comment by Karina
2008-06-23 11:25:44

that is a great idea!

Comment by Miranda
2008-06-23 10:12:08

When I move next month, I’ll apparently be within walking distance to a homemade, local ice cream shop, as well as a Ben and Jerry’s. Now, I’m pleased as punch that I’ll be near B&J for free cone day next spring, but if I do get the craving, I want to do the other shop, if I like it. And I probably will because I have met very few ice creams I didn’t like.

I’ll have to resist eating ice cream every day, though. One cannot live on ice cream alone, however eco-friendly. :(

Comment by Karina
2008-06-23 11:26:15

well, on the one hand you do need to get your calcium, but on the other hand, one should probably not eat it every day. I try to stick to 3 times a week.

Comment by Jenn
2008-06-23 10:42:45

Karina, you are a shining example of the sacrifices we must all make for environmentalism. :)

Wish I had a local ice cream shop in my neighborhood. But I can walk to an ices shop, about a 1/2 hr away, so that’s something…

Comment by Karina
2008-06-23 11:26:36

it’s tough, but I do what I can!

Comment by nikkapotamus
2008-06-23 11:04:34

We have, within walking distance, a Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, Kilwin’s, Cabana’s, Beachside Appetite, and a Dairy Korner-all of which sell ice cream in its various forms. We also live in a summer tourist town, so just about everybody gets in on the ice cream thing. However, most of those places charge an arm and a leg for ice cream ($5 for a cone at Kilwins).

So hubby and I started making our own ice cream. We got an ice cream ball at a white elephant gift exchange this Christmas (we’re reusing!) and use half and half to make our own ice cream. If you haven’t yet tried to make your own, it’s great fun. Plus, you can make any flavor you are craving. It’s even more fun with kids.
If you are into the vegan sherbet thing, you can do that too.

Comment by Karina
2008-06-23 11:27:22

one of the other pleasant benefits about my local joint is that the ice cream is really cheap, and they serve up giant cones.

how is the ice cream with half-and-half? is that how it’s normally made? it sounds a tiny bit healthier…

Comment by Isle Dance
2008-06-23 12:03:43

Reading http://www.thechinastudy.com excerpt (and book!) ends up eliminating the whole dilemma. I never would have guessed this outcome for myself, either.

Comment by Sangu
2008-06-23 13:14:13

There is an eco-friendly woman in NJ who makes vegan gelato and ices. http://www.blackwellsorganic.com/

The chicago soy dairy boys put out the Temptation Line which has organic, fair trade, and nut-free varieties.
In brooklyn you can get it on a cone at Penny Licks in Williamsburg.

My favorite homemade vegan ice cream was in San Francisco at a place called Maggie Muds, which had a whole dairy free line.

I haven’t been lucky enough to try the Wheelers’ Black Label vegan line bases in Boston, but i hear it is super yummy.

I’ve made recipes from Vice Cream with friends who have and ice cream maker and it was yummy.

I gave up dairy several years ago for several reasons. I’m a sucker for the dairy cow. She’s got a really rough life of constant impregnation, separation from her children, and milking. and when she’s spent she’s ground up into burgers. It doesn’t matter if she’s organic, or small scale or what. lately i’ve been reading lots on methane and learned that per cow emissions from dairy cows are almost double that of cows not used for dairy, and that’s because they are fed 3-4 times more to maintain them to constantly keep them milking. per cow emissions for dairy cows in the U.S. and Europe are almost triple than what they are in some places in the developing world like India. In the u.s. cows are fed grain to keep methane emissions per unit of feed or unit of product low. (methane equals waste), but are fed so much grain and are so much bigger that their per cow methane emissions are much higher. Most of it is in the form of belching, but since so much of the waste is concentrated and liquid and anaerobic, methane from waste emerges. so even if you reclaim it in biogas, it only addresses a fraction of the methane and it supports a concentrated wasteful system to great to methane to reclaim.

but i do love me some summer treats, and am glad there are other options out there.

Comment by Amy
2008-06-23 14:45:55

Baltimore’s lucky in that we can go out for locally made gelato (they get their eggs and dairy from a farm in Southern PA) from Pitango:
http://www.pitangogelato.com/ It’s amazing.

Also we have the Sylvan Beach Foundation, who work with at-risk youth. Part of the program is their ice cream shops, staffed and run by the kids they work with. Darn good ice cream too!

Comment by Jenn
2008-06-24 10:40:46

I take it back! I do have a local-ish ice cream shop! It’s a good thing I consider a 45-minute walk local, but still, exciting!!

Comment by donna
2008-06-24 17:04:15

thanks for the linkback!

Unfortunately the only ice cream shop i live within walking distance of is a baskin robbins.

However, near where i work there are old school italian ice shops (which I imagine are more “green”?), and i walk past the cold stone creamery in times square on the way home from work every-salivating-day!

Comment by squiggle
2008-06-25 17:30:06

i do have walkable ice cream made-on-site shops (fentons, but that has bad local karma, and ici, which is amazing). dreyer’s headquarters is a mile from my house, but i don’t know if they actually make it there.

but i haven’t had “store bought” ice cream in over a year since i’ve been making my own. i can choose local-ish milk and cream. i do eat quite a bit but that 1.2 quart statistic is astounding!

also, why is it better to eat from a cone?

Comment by Karina
2008-06-25 20:24:16

only because with a cone there isn’t as much waste to toss, really! you eat your entire container.

Comment by sumei
2008-06-30 19:50:21

oh! that’s if you’re eating ice cream out. if i’m eating from a bowl at home, it’s all good :)

2008-06-29 06:02:53

[...] Keeping Ice Cream Consumption Green [...]

Comment by Julianne Applegate
2009-07-20 15:13:19

If only there was a gluten-free ice cream cone option! I’ve seen porcelain “ice cream cones” for the home – but that seems like a waste. I really miss the cone. Enjoy it if you can.

2009-08-25 06:01:48

[...] Keeping Ice Cream Consumption Green [...]


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