Just because ice cream is labeled organic, that doesn't mean that too much is good for you.
"It will clog up your arteries just like any other ice cream, but you'll have more fun doing it," says Neal Gottlieb, founder of Three Twins Ice Cream.
Gottlieb has staked his claim in the organic ice cream market by focusing on the fun, from the company's homey name to his trademark green shoes. But when it came time to open a new production facility, he was all business.
Three Twins opened a new 4,200-square-foot production plant in Petaluma this year. It joins Clover Stornetta Farms, Straus Family Creamery, Cowgirl Creamery and Spring Hill Cheese in the town with a long history of dairy processors.
Gottlieb said he chose Petaluma in part because of the "very good availability for skilled workers" and also because he could locate on First Street in the same building with Cowgirl Creamery, an artisan cheese company. The two businesses share such equipment as a boiler, an air compressor and cooling towers.
Three Twins began in San Rafael in 2005 and gets its name from a time when Gottlieb lived there with his twin brother and his wife, also a twin. They called their home Three Twins, and Gottlieb said he liked the "cognitive dissonance" of the name so much that he took it for his business.
He wanted to start an "Earth friendly" business and felt that the industry was lacking. Too often, ice cream is made with ingredients "that you wouldn't put in it if you were making ice cream at home," he said.
With a product containing 14 percent milk fat that is loaded with sugar, he said, "you're not thinking about the healthy side of things. .<TH>.<TH>. People don't buy organic ice cream for the same reason as they buy organic milk."
Most people won't pay extra for environmentally friendly practices, Gottlieb concluded, but they will spend more for a quality product.
He believes that consumers will appreciate the practices of organic farmers, and he believes the "really good, clean tasting milk" will provide them with the moments of pleasure they expect from ice cream.
Three Twins operates stores in San Rafael, San Francisco and at Napa's Oxbow Market, and sells to restaurants and independent stores in Marin County. In Sonoma, the product is available at Whole Foods stores.
Consumers also can buy directly from the company website, four pints for $45 or 6 for $60, plus shipping. Gottlieb also will dress up in a green tuxedo and personally deliver 100 pints anywhere in the U.S. for $3,333.33, an offer one Boston billionaire recently took him up on.
The new plant will allow the company to greatly expand its production from last year's 33,000 gallons to an eventual output of 400,000 gallons, or more than 3 million pints of ice cream per year.
The cream for Three Twins products comes from Santa Rosa organic farmer Doug Beretta, a former Sonoma County Farm Bureau president, by way of an American Canyon yogurt producer.
Beretta sells his milk to Wallaby Yogurt, a company that has invested in Three Twins. Wallaby ends up with "a lot of great extra cream they need to sell," said Gottlieb.
As he describes the arrangement, it "is a great symbiotic relationship."