Serious Eats

Can We Save the Honey Bees and Eat Seriously Delicious Ice Cream? Yes, We Can

20080227-bee.jpgWandering through one of my local gourmet stores on my way to see my mother-in-law, Hilda, I spotted a pint of a Häagen-Dazs flavor I had been hearing about but had never seen. Vanilla Honey Bee is a new Häagen-Dazs flavor that comes complete with a cause (saving the honeybees from Colony Collapse Disorder) and a story (pollinating bees are responsible for way more than honey, as in (by some estimates) 33 percent of what we eat).

I quickly came up with a plan to serve three causes with one little pint of ice cream: Taste the new flavor, help save honeybees, and bring my mother-in-law a treat. I bought a pint of the Vanilla Honey Bee and a pint of Blue Moon Pear Ginger Sorbet, figuring I would make a mighty tasty creamsicle for her—she has developed a serious sweet tooth as she has gotten older.

It turned out to be an incredibly felicitous combination. The most surprising aspect of the creamsicle turned out to be the Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream, which was not cloyingly sweet and had just the right amount of fruity honey taste.

Now for the cause, which might be critical to present and future bites and sips of serious food. Or rather two causes: bringing some joy to Hilda and helping save the planet (or just a big chunk of our food supply).

Colony Collapse Syndrome has all serious food producers concerned. What is it? Wikipedia says, "Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a little-understood phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or Western honeybee colony abruptly disappear."

The Bigger Picture

Why does this matter? Because pollinating bees are a key component in producing as much as one-third of our food supply, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Even more alarming is the fact that 60 percent of Häagen-Dazs flavors are at risk. With no one truly understanding what causes CCD, lots of delicious foods are threatened with extinction. The folks at Häagen-Dazs are taking a page out of archrival Ben & Jerry's playbook: cause-related ice cream flavors.

Right off the bat, Häagen-Dazs is donating $250,000 each to Penn State and the University of California at Davis for CCD research. And a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the ice cream (which should be on your shelves in a matter of weeks) will also go toward finding the underlying cause and cure for Colony Collapse Syndrome.

A Creamsicle in a Bowl

All this wouldn't mean squat if the ice cream wasn't good. But Vanilla Honey Bee is a damn good Häagen-Dazs flavor, and I don't usually like honey-flavored ice cream. Add it to your favorite sorbet or sherbert, as I did, and you'll have your basic world-class creamsicle in a bowl.

And in my case, I got to see the satisfied smile that came across my mother-in-law's face when she took a spoonful of the ice cream. Now that is a cause I can get behind every day of the week.

Helping save honeybees, eating great ice cream, and bringing the pleasure of food to my mother-in-law. Supporting three worthy causes—not a bad afternoon's work.

What do you know about Colony Collapse Disorder?

(cc) Photograph from ndrwfgg on Flickr

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