The restoration of America's food supply powers on. Companies are beginning to hear the chants of consumers, calling out for traditional, unadulterated food ingredients. The call for cleaner food now includes ice cream. Major ice cream manufacturer, Ben & Jerry's, has announced a major shift in how they produce their flavors. They are shifting all their ice cream flavors away from containing genetically modified ingredients (corn, soy, and sugar beets) and have already made headway with 14 of their most popular varieties.
Ben and Jerry's switch to non-GMO ingredients is part of a bigger battle underway in Vermont
The company's switch to non-GMO ingredients is an answer to growing demand but is also part of a much bigger battle. They are joining Vermont to require labeling of genetically modified organisms throughout the state. The company is even changing the name of one of its most popular ice cream flavors to raise money for the Food Fight Fund set up by Vermont. Ben & Jerry's new flavor of the month for July is "Food Fight! Fudge Brownie." They also plan to donate $1 from every ice cream purchase at their Burlington and Waterbury locations.
Co-founder Jerry Greenfield put it plainly, "This is a pretty simple issue. Vermonters want the right to know what's in their food, and apparently a bunch of out-of-state companies don't want to tell us."
In the end, the company plans to replace 110 ingredients. One of those toppings being pitched is the Heath bar used in the popular "Coffee Heath Bar Crunch" ice cream product. Of course, not all customers want to see their favorite ice cream flavors go by the wayside, and the company has received backlash.
But, according to Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry's social mission activism manager, providing a cleaner end product is most important. "We felt like this was something Ben & Jerry's ought to be a leader on."
Ben & Jerry's parent company Unilever is pitted against them in the Vermont GMO labeling battle
Ben & Jerry's move to non-GMO ingredients is a shocking one, considering that the company is owned by Unilever, the corporate conglomerate that spent $450,000 two years ago to fight the California GMO labeling initiative. Ben & Jerry's took a lot of flack a couple years ago from the growing non-GMO movement. Apparently, they are now listening to health-conscious consumers, even in the face of opposition from their parent company.
In fact, Unilever, along with Monsanto, Kraft Food and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are challenging the labeling laws that are popping up in states like Vermont.
This puts Ben & Jerry's in conflict with their parent company.
Ben & Jerry's having a positive influence on suppliers
As Ben & Jerry's make the switch to real ingredients, their suppliers are impacted. In fact, their Oregon cherry supplier has switched from GMO sugar beets and now supplies the company with real sugar cane.
Although Ben & Jerry's is on the right track, some clean eating experts think that the company could do more and provide an ice cream sourced from cow's milk that isn't dependent on GMO corn feed.
Still, the company is making strides. Five flavors that are set to be changed include marshmallow, caramel, fish-shaped chocolates, ice cream, and vanilla. These flavors alone contain some 38 ingredients that must be changed in order for the company to meet Fair Trade Standards. This requires the company to move away from using genetically modified corn and soy, used in the five flavors. As Ben & Jerry's leaves these GMO ingredients in the dust, producers and suppliers will respond positively, bringing forth real ingredients as American agriculture slowly returns to its traditional, chemical-free, unaltered origins.
Sources for this article include: