First off, I just want to say that I read your website on a regular basis and enjoy your reviews. Also, I'm not the guy you met from GrubGrade on the trip, but the "other" writer on the GrubGrade blog.
I preface my comments with that little caveat because, frankly, I find a great deal of hypocrisy in the Ben and Jerry's "social mission," and find your excessive praise for the company to be somewhat off-putting. I do not consider myself a health freak fanatic and am largely against attempts by the government to regulate, shall we say, “less” than nutritious options in schools. I also find the classifying of “good” and “bad” foods to be setting a dangerous precedent in our society, especially for young people. That being said, we as citizens hear an awful lot about the childhood obesity epidemic, and see a lot of mud being slung in the court of public opinion and government action at large fast food and food retail companies. Think about it; the cereal companies are demonized for providing cereal with (gah!) 10+ grams of sugar per serving, while anyone who offers a cheap French fry to a kid is decried as a greedy and faceless, we-don’t-care-about-your health company which gives our great institution of capitalism a bad name. God forbid something contain a dietary insignificant amount of trans fat provided by partially hydorginated oil, because obviously the use of much more expensive organic palm oil in a similar product will add years to the consumers life.
Ok, I’m rambling. Sorry. My point is that at the end of the day, Ben and Jerry’s may have a great mission with being nice to their employees and using quality, fair-trade ingredients, while all the foodie Obama-ites in our society can applaud them for it. But how come the company gets the pass when it comes to the very real fact that their ice cream is probably the most fattening stuff on the market? I’m not saying it’s not good or can’t be enjoyed in moderation, but it really seems to me that just because they are the “hip” or “progressive” company with their environmental image, they get a free pass when it comes to many of the criticisms that people have of larger company’s that don’t excessively tout their environmental virtues and blah blah blah. Nevermind that the stuff costs double or triple as much, but the fact that a half cup of Ben and Jerry’s has 270 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat per ½ cup (and seriously, who eats a half a cup?) doesn’t garner nearly as much outrage as say, a kid ordering a small fry off the dollar menu at Micky D’s strikes me as the most hypocritical aspect of the current debate in food politics.
I am all for people making responsible choices and enjoying crappy foods in moderation (hey, I look forward to my Dunkin Donut each week and nightly bag of potato chips as much as anyone) but why does Ben and Jerry’s avoid the criticisms of the health watchdogs? To me, it’s a question of elitism and pretension, and like I said, it’s really off-putting.
Ok, that was long and probably fairly convoluted, but hopefully someone gets at least some of what I was trying to convey.
Now that's what I call a comment, and it also brings up a point that has been lingering in the back of my mind ever since I went to visit the land of peace, love & ice cream. Maybe it comes from my wife, or maybe it comes from having two kids, but I am indeed one of those people who now labels food healthy and unhealthy, good and bad. I'm sorry, but ingredient lists use to be a lot shorter when I was a kid. Today's food is laden with chemicals and preservatives yet doesn't taste as fresh and as simple as it did decades ago. I like all natural, and as the last poll shows, about half of you value it more than anything else when it comes to your desserts.
that said, i have worried about seeming too praising of Ben & Jerry's. I think it's a combination of my childlike idealogic nature and my life experiences. Maybe this is a good time for a story.
So, at B&J's headquarters, I got to make the new CEO squirm for just a second... hehehehe. Everyone was harping on the whole "Wal-mart is evil" thing and all that, but I decided to repose the question in a more analytical way. To paraphrase, my question basically was "how does Walmart offering your product at cutthroat prices affect your margins and henceforth your ability to donate to charity?" There was a moment of wheels turning and then we got the whole volumes of scale helps balance out the reduced profit margin story. I'm willing to accept that answer for now. Heck, we can even keep in mind that a $3 pint today may just supplement your usually $5 a pint habit, so it keeps customers in the loop and keeps them interested, etc etc etc. Anyway, that's my short story, and maybe enforce the idea that I don't mean to appear to be naive. Instead I want to inspire everyone to try harder. Bust your company for not recycling or giving back. I don't care if it's as simple as bringing your soda can home. Every little bit counts.
And one more point, I will agree with Adam on one point, please don't eat Ben & Jerry's every night. Enjoy in moderation because this tasty yet very fatty ice cream will bog you down. I try to attach nutritional info to my posts and I do try to remind everyone that some of these high octane flavors can be as much as 50% of your saturated fat in a single serving. With that said, H-D and B&J are great rewards for mowing, cleaning, running a marathon, etc, etc, hehehehe. There's no shame in enjoying B&J's one night, and then something low fat the next. Balance, it's all about balance.
Finally, I think gov't stepping into school lunches is fine, and I don't mind them keeping an eye on things like preservatives and genetically modified foods. However, it comes down to the consumer (that means you and me!) for choosing where we go to eat, which cereals we picks for our kids, all that. I have unfortunately become a label reading monster and accept responsibility for what my family eats, I suggest you do the same.
Lastly, Ben, Jerry, you guys still rock in my book.
Ok, no more soapbox for awhile, let's get back to reviewing ice cream!