Goat milk ice cream: the next big thing?

Is goat milk ice cream the next big thing? Not only is the product drawing a lot of press where it has been introduced, but the International Ice Cream Association (IICA) has petitioned the USDA to delete the current Federal Standard for goat’s milk ice cream and instead allow marketers to simply make a statement on their products declaring that the source animal for the milk used in ice cream is from an animal other than a cow. In its petition, the IICA claims that having a separate standard of identity for goat milk ice cream is “unnecessarily duplicative and limits possibilities for the use of milk from other source animals.” In other words, give goat milk ice cream a break!

Garnering the most news in this emerging category is Laloo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream, which was founded in the fall of 2004 by Laura Howard. Howard has caught the media’s attention for having given up her Hollywood career as a television producer and, in her quest for a saner life, moved upstate to Sonoma County where she found her way to producing make her line of premium goat milk ice creams.

On the company’s website, Howard explains that she gave up cow’s milk for health reasons, but was not ready to give up ice cream, so she began experimenting with making her own ice cream from goat’s milk, which she describes as being “as close to a perfect food as possible in nature.” She notes that the chemical structure is very similar to mother’s milk, with complete proteins that contain all the essential amino acids “without the heavy fat content and catarrh producing materials of cow’s milk.”

Howard has positioned her company with in the “slow food” movement, which is aimed at combating the loss of food appreciation, among other qualities of life, fostered by “the world-wide homogenization of food and the undermining of regional farmers.” She explains that Laloo’s goats “play on 350 acres of lush hills where they graze on green grass in the warm Pacific breeze,” and notes that Laloo’s is “Slow Farmed & Kitchen Fresh”.

Howard’s ice cream is available in a growing number of retail outlets throughout California, as well as in Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, too. The line has gained favor with several leading restaurateurs in Sonoma County, as well as some of the trendier Los Angeles eateries.

In addition, the product can be ordered through the company website. The latter distribution service has garnered Laloo’s much press attention, with write-ups in 2005 in Newsweek, Fine Cooking, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others.

The upscale line retails at $6 per pint, with Internet orders running $8 per pint with a minimum order of 4 pints. Current flavors include Vanilla Snowflake, Black Mission Fig, Deep Chocolate (made with all natural 77% pure Scharffen Berger cacao), Strawberry Darling, Molasses Tipseycake (molasses with oatmeal cookie pieces), Chevre Chiffon, Pumpkin Spice, and chocolate cabernet, made with locally produced cabernet sauvignon as well as the Scharffen Berger cacao.

In New York, goat milk ice cream is one of the many products developed at the Lively Run Goat Dairy, one of the first commercial goat dairy operations in New York State, founded near the shores of Cayuga Lake in 1982. The farm currently has a herd of 116 Nubian, Alpine, Saanen and crossbred goats.

Flavors include almond, lemon and blueberry flavors, was a unanimous hit with our tasters. Made and distributed by a Rochester chef, the ice cream contains Lively Run chevre, as well as dairy milk, sugar, eggs, cream, and salt.

In Illinois, goat milk ice cream is being made at Joy-of-Illinois Farm, another member of the “slow food” movement and artisanal food movement. The small family farm is run by the Gioja family, who have been raising goats for 10 years. They maintain a small herd of i0 goats in the winter and 30 in the spring. The Giojas sell their goat milk products directly off the farm to customers, rather than at farmers’ markets or elsewhere.