You're at a friend's barbeque, all set to indulge in some ice cream for dessert, when your host offers you a choice between original vanilla or "slow churned" vanilla. Quick! Which do you choose? Slow churned, right? It sounds positively artisanal—handmade on the farm by some wholesome milk maiden. Or something out of the slow-food movement—an ice cream you can feel good about, a product of sustainable agriculture and fresh, local ingredients. But you'd have made the wrong choice: In the ice cream business these days, "churned" is just a clever marketing ploy, a euphemism for low-fat.
Dreyer's (or Edy's, depending on where you live) first introduced its Slow Churned Ice Cream back in 2004 (the company registered the trademark), and churned has since become the ice cream buzzword du jour. Breyer's has a " Double Churn " ice cream, and Baskin Robbins launched a " Premium Churned " ice cream in December. Although these companies claim that their various "churning" methods account for the taste (Edy's describes its as a "process of extremely cold blending over a longer period of time, to create an incredibly smooth and creamy light ice cream"), churned ice creams also possess any number of synthetic ingredients (Propylene Glycol Monostearate, anyone?) to make these lower fat, lower calorie versions taste better. Most also offer a no-sugar-added variety, also dubbed some sort of "churn," which boast even more additives—fake sugars and ingredients like polydextrose , added to create a richer texture.
In honor of National Ice Cream Month , keep it natural, and don't let these labels fool you—just because it's been "churned" doesn't mean it's any more wholesome than your typical additive-riddled light ice cream.