You can make artisan ice cream in Illinois as long as you’re willing to use… artificial ingredients? (updated)

Photo from Nice Cream

Well this is just peachy. If you’re an artisan ice cream maker using fresh ingredients like – oh the horrors! – fresh strawberries in Illinois, you’re going to get slapped with a cease and desist order by the health department. But if you’re willing to use irradiated strawberries (tasteless) or processed strawberry syrup, go right on ahead. Want to use real cream? Not only will you need a dairy license, which requires getting bacteria levels so low to pass inspection that working with real ingredients just doesn’t work, you’ll also need to cough up $40K for a pasteurization machine, which is completely realistic for a company of 2 people who rent out commercial kitchen space, right? Or you can compromise your product even further and use premade ice cream mix.

Regulations like this are scaled to large corporations that can absorb the costs, not small scale artisans like Nice Cream, who have built a reputation based on working with fresh ingredients and locally sourced dairy. Artisan producers like Nice Cream in Illinois are now faced with one of two choices: either switch to using subpar ingredients or go out of business. Which one might guess is exactly what the larger corporations want.

To say it’s frustrating that our state health department regulations are pushing small businesses who use healthier, fresh ingredients (often sourced locally and boosting the local economy) out of business unless they switch to processed ingredients is putting it mildly. Not everyone can afford an ice cream maker in their own home and it’s a loss to everyone if artisans like Nice Cream are prevented from crafting quality products that can convince even the most ardent chocoholic that yes, strawberry ice cream is good.

Thanks to Dawn over at Kitchen Lore for bringing this to my attention.



A “Save Nice Cream!” kickstarter has been created. They have a goal of raising $5000 over the next 60 days. The money will help keep the business going during the enforced production halt by the Health Department, while Nice Cream and other local ice cream artisans attempt to reform standards to be more amenable to small-scale food artisans maintaining their quality of product while remaining within safe food production guidelines. The last day to pledge is Oct 10, 2011, at 12:46am. I’m pledging what I can when I get paid this week. Every little bit helps, so if you can afford even a couple of dollars and supporting local food industry is important to you, please do so as well.

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, the way it works is that the money you pledge will only be collected if the campaign reaches or surpasses its fundraising goal amount. If Nice Cream does not reach the $5000 amount by the deadline, pledged funds will be returned to all donating parties. You can learn more about Kickstarter here.


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