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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16036/theres-no-such-thing-as-homemade-ice-cream/

There’s No Such Thing as Homemade Ice Cream

March 15, 2011 by

The store is just the last stop in a huge and extended process that emerged over centuries and requires the involvement of people all over the world. It would be impossible to recreate this at home. FULL ARTICLE by Jeffrey A. Tucker


Luther Stueland March 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

Thanks again, Jeffrey, for another enjoyable read. There is such beauty in capitalism that offers humanity an incredible increase in the standard of living. All without the use of aggression!

cluelessinky March 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

This sound reminiscent of the Pencil essay. Can anyone really do anything alone?

Joe March 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

They do in third world countries and they are one meal away from starvation.

Joe March 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Yes they can. It happened before the Industrial Revolution.

kennyV March 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

…or to be more ontologically precise:

” If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. ”

— Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)

Shay March 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Reminds me of a joke about scientists and making things from scratch (“get your own dirt”).

Mike Fisher March 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Or the video inspired by the quote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc

Charlie Virgo March 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Awesome, thanks for sharing the quote. “I, Pencil” has been one of my favorite essays for some time, and Sagan’s quote sums it up pretty nicely.

Julien March 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

Thanks you for a very edifying article. I myself tend to dabble in DIY of various kind, but it’s important to recognize the overwhelming part of other people contributing to that Y.

Michael R Stoddard March 15, 2011 at 10:26 am

Making home made ice cream is really very simple. You can get pamphlets explaining it from the Home Made Ice Cream Planning Board who co-ordinates its projects with the Milk Farmers Co-op, the Chicken Ranchers Brotherhood, the United Steel Workers Guild, the US Food and Drug Administration, the Office of Import/Export, the US Embassy, the US Forestry Dept., the Hand Crank Guild and DON’T forget to acquire a license to share with any one (public) out side of your immediate family. NOTE Sharing with public requires that your kitchen facilities be inspected and approved. This may take a couple of weeks up to a month. So a little forward planning for your home made ice cream event will be helpful. But don’t worry, besides being fully explained in the 78 page pamphlet, you can access the relevant state and federal code on the internet now. The people at your state agricultural department will be very helpful in this respect once you get an appointment. They are very eager to promote local “sustainable” practices.

Horst Muhlmann March 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

Good one.

Ryan March 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm


J. Murray March 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Don’t forget you have to pay royalties to the man who owns the IP on the idea of Ice Cream, Dr. Cream.

Phinn March 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I thought the IP owner was Mr. Cool Ice.

Ned Netterville March 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

How much freedom does it cost folks to have the government “assure” a safe food supply, including store-bought ice cream? If you are a farmer, it costs you all of your freedom. There is virtually nothing a farmer can do without being told how or when to do it, or at a minimum checking first with the government to see if what’s contemplated is allowed. The United States Department of Agriculture rules farmers with a velvet glove of subsidies and an iron fist of multifarious regulations. On any pretense it can declare an emergency and invade any producing farm in America, take anything from the farm and even take the farm itself. Nothing more than the whim of an arbitrary bureaucrat is required, and don’t even think of running to a federal judge to stop a federal bureaucracy because federal courts and federal judges presume federal bureaucracies have federal authority to do what they do. If anyone doubts this, you must read the book MAD SHEEP, by Linda Faillace for the true account of what happened to her and her family and their Vermont farm when one ego-driven bureaucrat, one Linda Detwiler, decided to make a little extra money for herself and a laboratory-owning friend of hers, as well as win the approval of the U.S. beef-cattle industry and the prospect of a future high-paying job in that industry, by publicly declaring that the Failace’s sheep had mad-cow disease and taking measures identical to those once used by Hitler’s Gestapo against the Faillace’s and their sheep to ensure that a fictitious danger Detwiler conjured out of whole cloth did not spread to cattle. (There has never been an instance in the history of the world of a sheep having mad-cow disease! Of course, as Linda would tell you, it could happen.) And as a consequence of Detwiler’ scheme, the US food supply was degraded and the threat of mad cow disease spreading to humans increased.

Dave Albin March 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm

That “Mad Sheep” is a horrifying read. But, the people in the book broke the cardinal rule of regulators – they eagerly cooperated with them, even setting up voluntary testing programs for their sheep. They didn’t know that you don’t worry about regulators until they contact you about something twice. Don’t volunteer anything.

All this business about keeping the food supply safe is bogus. Why would food producers sell an unsafe product (this goes for small organic and giant corporate farms)? Also, buyer beware – know how to safely store and prepare food.

Ned Netterville March 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm

@Dave Albin, I agree with both of your points. The Faillaces had a well-researched and compelling business plan to produce cheese from high-producing, high-butterfat breeds of sheep. Their research showed that demand for such cheese was exponentially more than the supply because there were no herds of milking sheep in the U.S. That meant importing breeds from Europe and NZ, which required working with the USDA, obtaining the agency’s cooperation and approval at every turn. Someone with a little Misian training who understood what it means to “depend on” government would have thrown the greatest business plan out the window upon realizing the role the USDA plays in the importation of livestock. Smuggling the sheep in would have been a better option. But the Faillaces were like so many Americans: they believed in government. They may even have felt that their strong financial commitment plus their willingness and ability as well-educated people to negotiate the USDA regulatory web gave them a competitive advantage over other farmers who saw the same high demand and limited supply of sheep cheese. However, unless one is a sly and subtle agorist with the ability to farm underground, it probably wise to choose another occupation. The same goes for most segments of the food industry.

Andrew March 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Very interesting to think that a well off man could easily bankrupt himself attempting to make homemade vanilla ice cream, while someone making minimum wage could work for just one hour, then stop by the store on the way home and afford to pick up a gallon of almost any brand, any flavor.

Excellent article.

michael March 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I agree with the above poster who likens this article to “I, Pencil” – it has the potential of becoming another classic.

The complexities of making ice cream are so overwhelming, it seems clear to me that the only solution is for the government to do it. Besides – they could be much more efficient. Who needs all those silly flavors? That’s clearly a waste of money. Also – who decides who gets the ice cream? It’s not fair that the rich get more ice cream – that’s not what America is all about. Everybody has a right to ice cream, and the purpose of government is to look out for the “little guy”.

We should make it a goal that within 5 years, 95% of all Americans have access to ice cream. In Cuba, I believe, everyone has access to ice cream (when it’s available).

Charlie Virgo March 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Don’t forget, America is the only industrialized country in the world where ice cream isn’t a right.

WMD March 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Jeff, you always make the free market sound so romantic. Well done.

yahya March 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I also thought of ‘I, Pencil’ when I started reading this. This is good stuff

Jim Archer March 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Shades of Adam Smith. I knew I had seen this argument somewhere.

Martial Artist March 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Just a small quibble, really, but it can be worth it, even with an electric churn, if you can’t get the flavor you want commercially and affordably. Best example I can think of is blackberry ice cream. The only reliable source of which I am aware is Baskin-Robbins. If you aren’t close to one of their stores and you have ready access to fresh, wild blackberries—and are as wild about them as I am (a rather big if—then it is might well be worth it.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Aaron March 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Just like mom used to make? Brilliant, well-written example of all the steps and all the layers involved in getting just one scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Jeffrey Tucker March 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I just received this funny note:

Let’s apply a little (1960s) general science to the problem. Assuming you know a farmer who can provide you with some eggs and cream, you can go a long way farther to doing this yourself. You don’t need rock salt- if you have sugar to make ice cream, it will work perfectly well to drop the molal freezing point of the ice, too. (Didn’t you ever “ice” a glass at a restaurant to aggravate the busboys? You just stir in about an inch or two of sugar into the crushed ice at the bottom of a drink glass and watch the frost form on the outside. The glass freezes to the tray, and when the busboy tries to pick it up, it raises the whole tray about a foot in the air before breaking loose and dropping everything with a clatter!). Then there’s the matter of gears- the Romans used wooden pegs on wheels to make gears, so there’s no reason we couldn’t do something very similar. Yeah, we’re not talking about a really miniature machine here, but it will work fine. But you don’t have to go to that much trouble- how about just using a good old butter churn in a metal bucket? After all, the goal is just to expose as much of the fluid content to the freezing surface as possible to remove the heat from it. You can do without the nice stainless steel, you know- almost any metal bucket will conduct heat adequately for this task. The biggest single problem I see is the availability of vanilla, but I’ll bet people were making ice cream before it was readily available. (getting ready to google the topic shortly, in fact). Oh, yeah, the ice- people were storing winter ice throughout the year long before there was mechanical refrigeration, so the real problem here is just planning ahead, right?

I know you were just commenting on the miracle of modern technology, and I love sitting at a computer as much as anyone. But seriously, a real problem with the world today is that people feel utterly incapable of doing things that, one hundred years ago, they would not have thought twice about undertaking. My great uncle was born in 1896; when visiting us in the 1950s, he brought me a stone that he claimed was a tomahawk head. I asked him to help me turn it back into a tomahawk, and after a minute or two of humming over it, we set off to the nearby woods with nothing but his pocketknife. He proceeded to cut down a maple sapling one-and-a-half inches in diameter with that knife, then stripped the bark to expose the wondrous, smooth, moist wood beneath. Applying the knife again, he cut the stick to length, about twenty inches, then split it down the middle not quite halfway. He placed the stone in the split, then tied it into place with a magical knot called an “American whip,” after which, neither end of the cord was visible, just a tight coil of it around the stick above and below the stone. I was about ten years old the time, but I learned a lot about what it means to be independently capable from him and two other uncles. I sure wish there were more people like that around today.


Bob Topp

Franklin March 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Nowadays, they’d arrest the uncle for cutting down the sapling.

Jonathan M. F. Catalán March 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I’d love to work on my car, but I love taking it to the mechanic much more.

Jacob Steelman March 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Before the media discovered “Globalism” there was globalism, a global cooperative marketplace and division of labor which allowed all of us to get goods and services we wanted but which no one of us could or would take the time to make by ourself. This was the essence of Leonard Read’s famous “I, Pencil” to which several commenters have referred. Thank god for this wonderful creation by mankind. Shame on those who try to destroy it, demean it or shackle it and thus limit the potential it has for helping each one of us.

Redmond March 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I dunno, I heard the Soviet Union had some pretty good “Centrally PLanned” ice cream.

hayeksheroes March 17, 2011 at 10:54 am

Actually, this is true. Soviet vanilla was probably the best ice cream in the world. The secret was they used real cream. However, there were very few flavors. I can only recall 2 flavors, vanilla and chocolate. They were always in short supply.

One time, I remember a lady showed up with her ice cream cart and started selling on the side of the street. A queue formed immediately and I jumped in line. I also set my stopwatch. (I always loved to time the lines.) Less than a half an hour later, It was my turn, but the ice cream lady had run out. She didn’t even say sorry. She closed her cart and went away silently, leaving me and 50 Soviet citizens disappointed.

Then they had Polar Cafe’s that were shaped like large igloos where they served ice cream at 11 to 12. Then from 2 to 4. That was it. Perhaps they were making ice cream with the hand crank method during the other hours. I seriously doubt it.

The wonders of capitalism give us choice and sufficient supplies.

Things have changed. A new Pinkberry will open in Moscow.

EconAndre March 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

To maximize the marginal utility of your homemade ice cream, I recommend making and eating it on the edge of the Sahara Desert like I did. That really tasted good.

Matt Flipago March 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I Scream for Ice Cream.
I Ice Cream.
Theres a joke in there i just need to fugue it out.

P.M.Lawrence March 16, 2011 at 12:34 am

That’s trying to prove too much. For instance:-

- You don’t need your own cow, although of course even oppressed Irish tenants usually had one. As long as someone nearby has one and is willing to sell you milk, or even barter it for some of the ice cream, that’s all you need.

- Likewise you can source many flavourings locally, e.g. berries.

- You don’t need rock salt. Any salt will do. In fact, if you are so purist that you aren’t willing to buy some that comes from a long supply chain, even home made potash will do as it’s not its salty taste that counts but its ability to melt ice.

- And you most definitely do not need electric refrigeration to make ice. Not only is a gas or paraffin lamp operated refrigerator quite good enough, there are even simpler batch freezing devices like the Icy Ball that can do it using almost any strong enough heat source (yes, it needs a stock of ammonia – but almost any village with craftsmen who could make them could also make the small quantity needed by destructive distillation of common raw materials). In fact, you could even get ice by judicious use of a Hilsch Tube, scraping off the ice build up, and that only needs compressed air you can get from a reservoir topped up by a jury rigged hand or pedal pump.

So yes, you can make ice cream at home without hidden use of a more developed economy. It’s just not worth it.

Michael A. Clem March 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Nice article, but “home-made” is really just a definitional or semantic question, with varying degrees of answers, depending upon just how “authentic” you truly want to be. It can still be a fun and worthwhile experience, even if it’s not completely from scratch. Educational, even, so that kids and teens get some idea of just how much work goes into the stuff bought at the stores.
Me, I like making pizza at home, except for the crust–I’m terrible at making pizza crusts.

best replica watch March 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm

This is the best site I’ve seen.

Jan Steinman April 22, 2011 at 11:52 am

We make what we call “zero mile” ice cream. The cream comes from our goats. The eggs come from our chickens. The flavourings come from berries and fruit from our land. The honey comes from a neigbour’s bees. A tiny bit of ethanol (for better “scoopability”) comes from our pear trees and a homemade still.

Yes, we do use sea salt that we buy. The ocean is 1.5 miles away, so we couldn’t very well call it “zero mile” if we evaporated our own salt. And we do use electricity (from 100% wind source).

But we have a local populace who is wild about simple, slow, organic, healthy, minimally-processed, local food, and we can get $20 a quart for our ice cream.

It actually helps that the Big Bad Gubamint is so heavy-handed. If raw milk were legal here, some huge corporation would be competing with us for this product.

This is an interesting site. There seems to be a lot of cheering for “capitalism” and a lot of jeering of any way of interaction that does not involve competition. We are organized as a not-for-profit cooperative. We have “investors” who are guaranteed that the rate of return on their investment will never exceed the rate of inflation. They “invest” in a place to produce healthy food, local energy, and local livelihood.

I submit that a lot of the good things that people ascribe to “capitalism” really has come from cheap fossil sunlight, and that (for lack of a better term) what I call “financial capitalism” has been a great evil in the world.

I’m all for ownership of the means of production as a way of earning a living from one’s own labour. I bought a cream separator so I could make zero-mile ice cream. But something gets corrupted on the way to the bank. There’s something wrong with the notion that little bits of coloured paper get together in dark places and multiply. In the old days, if you needed capital equipment, you saved up for it. Up until a very short time ago, the three major western religions all forbade interest.

Where does this silly notion of continuous growth come from? Well, for one thing, we’ve seen continuous growth of fossil sunlight for the past couple hundred years. This is about to go into reverse, and those whose world view is predicated on growth are in for a big surprise, I’m afraid.

When energy declines, growth goes away. When growth goes away, financial capitalism goes away, as well. I see a return to feudalism, where those who control the true “means of production” — the ability to capture current sunlight — can employ armies of serfs for the cost of food and lodging. I see the current “double-dip” recession turning into a “continuous dip” depression, where the demand destruction from each recession creates a temporary burst of activity, followed by another bounce against the glass ceiling of resource depletion, each peak and dip lower than the previous one.

At some point, Cuba may not look so bad, when everyone there has enough to eat while half of America is near-starving. Capitalism has proven to be spectacularly successful at exploiting “unlimited” resources. I’m not so sure it is the best system for dealing with declining resources. Time will tell.

Jim P. April 22, 2011 at 11:57 am

One quick question: are all your customers from within zero miles too?

Also, you may find this free book to be a good introduction to this site:

Jan Steinman April 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Hi Jim. Our customers are not “zero mile,” but they’re almost all from within ten kilometres. We don’t really like to sell to tourists from further away, because they don’t bring back our re-usable containers! (If someone admits they’re from “off the island,” we ask for an additional container deposit.)

Thanks for the link. I’ve looked it over. My huge reservation is the opposition to “limits to growth,” which I feel is completely without reason. This is a “huge reservation,” because not recognizing limits to growth seems to flavour almost everything else in the platform.

There are real limits to growth, and humans either need to voluntarily limit the impact of their activities, or have such limits imposed upon them — whether by government, or by nature.

I’m actually a “small l” libertarian. If I’m not harming others, I want the government to stay the hell out of my business. The problem is that “harming others” is such a broad term when humanity has arguably overshot its resource base. I don’t know where to draw the line, but it seems to me that to be a “good” libertarian, one must also voluntarily lead a simple life.

I’m looking forward to the coming fossil sunlight decline. It is going to show us, in no uncertain terms, that limits exists, and that limitless growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. It’s going to renew the honour in being things like “frugal” and “thrifty,” which in today’s energy-rich world, often are mistaken for “poor.” We voluntarily live below the level at which income tax is due, both to avoid supporting a government we don’t much care for, but also to voluntarily limit the impact of our actions.

I don’t like government telling me what I can and can’t do. But most of the rest of humanity behave as though they can’t accept nature telling them what they can or cannot do. That is simply madness.

Jim P. April 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Jan, I suspect that you would not agree to the following ridiculous statements:

*Government is usually a force for good and makes the world a better place.

*Government, like a wise and experienced leader, knows what we should do and wants to help us live better lives. It can make rational, responsible, intelligent choices.

*Government lights the path for us with its own example, eg. by using its own resources wisely. It doesn’t overspend, waste, counterfeit, borrow, steal, murder, war, destroy. Not without a really good reason to, anyway.

*Government rarely fails to take into account the nature and result of its actions. It accepts responsibility and improves. It has only our best interests at heart.

*Government is merely the will of the people, acting together, to solve societal problems. Politicians are public servants who put their private lives aside to interpret the will of the people, and try to do the people’s business with the best of intentions.

*War happens because it is human nature to fight. Poverty happens because people are too greedy. Government must step in to curb human nature.

*Despite the harm government sometimes causes, we are better off with our leaders than without them. That would be chaos.

*The purpose of government is to wear smooth all the jagged stones in the stream. Government can take our dissent and strife, and turn it into discipline and cooperation.

*Government only fails because we don’t have the right people in charge.

*Government lives at the end of the rainbow and poops out ice cream and gold for the townsfolk. I read this in Newsweek.

Again, most libertarians would at least be highly skeptical. But I ask this because you do seem to believe that government is *able* to control resources responsibly and impose rational limits on growth. And even if it could do those things, does it actually care or have any lasting incentive to do it? Too often, people tend to want see others follow their vision of the world, but they do it vicariously via government force, thus relieving them of the responsibility for the disastrous outcomes. It’s like calling something “God’s will” no matter what the outcome. The assumtion that government is the solution to any problem is quite a leap of faith. Minds can only be changed by ideas, not jail and fines. Certainly to your credit, you are being an example and being the change you want to see in the world. Yours is a market solution to a problem.

Markets don’t need overlords to regulate and fail to the extent they are regulated. Indeed, none of us is as smart as all of us. Regulatory schemes to eliminate waste also eliminate innovation.

Consider this miracle (a la Leonard Reed’s Pencil): without anyone telling it to do so, and with no expert decrees, the market recognized the need for small-scale energy because energy prices were too high – and for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter to the market. A speculating entrepreneur started a company making wind turbines with the help of a greedy financier. A selfish retailer then re-sold the turbines, hoping to make a profit on something he didn’t invent or produce. And not to mention all the millions of other wasteful people who made the production and sale possible throughout the process. The market brought from a distant land to you, the ability to make ice cream – and nobody keels over and dies without an ice cream cone. But that isn’t waste. You, and others, simply satisfied a human want according to your own means, ability, and values.

And if I might go one further, the free-market is the whole reason you can make a living selling a luxury item like ice cream in a “self-sufficient” capacity. Only 100 years ago your reality today was completely unthinkable. That’s what is meant by “growth.” Not the products of credit expansion based on government fraud.

So it’s not a matter of preference or of last resort. Freedom isn’t just a nice idea, it’s the only thing that works. I hope you do browse this site more. I think you’ll find more in common with the Mises Institute than not. I think you’ll appreciate what a free-market/Austrian perspective has to say about “limits to growth” and how the market and prices, undistorted by government interventions, naturally finds limits without the use of force.

Also, I think your business is a really good idea. Best of luck with it.

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