the time you learn about Sue Sibby’s Organic Ice
cream, her order en route to a high end group of grocery
stores in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, will have reached it’s
final destination. This is not an unusual phenomena.
Countries from all over the world send buyers to America
to discover the highest quality food products and ingredients
the market has to offer. The quality they are in search
of is not found in the mass produced markets, rather
they are found in the small artisan markets, where the
best of the best is in limited supply, and family members
gather round for the final round of packaging in order
to help make ends meet.
this tiny little organic ice cream factory situated
on her 100 acre farm in Westby, Wisconsin is the dream
come true of founder Sue Sibby, the lifestyle that it
represents is of magnanimous proportions. “I always
wanted to go back to farming and do something the whole
family can do, and this really does it”, Sue Sibby,
mother of two explains. Although she has cows that graze
on over 70 of her acres, she does not milk her own cows.
Her neighbor down the street raises cows on her organic
farm, and then the milk goes to a local butter plant,
and that is where she gets her fresh organic cream.
don’t use a lot of ingredients in this. Just organic
non fat dried milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolk. Just
like they did in the “old world.” No stabilizers.”
Instead of having a one year shelf life, it has only
a six month shelf life. But when you are small enough,
you can get your fresh cream in the morning, and make
your ice cream in the afternoon. “ I make only
two flavors right now – vanilla and chocolate”
. In fact, the vanilla is Madagascar Vanilla –
one of the most expensive forms of vanilla there is.
And the chocolate is a fair trade cocoa from Costa Rica.
They are not only the highest quality ingredients, but
they represent purchases made outside the commodity
market, insuring the survivability of the local economy
where the products come from.
5000 pints of Sibby’s Organic Ice cream can be
found in over 100 stores, to include Whole Foods in
Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis. They’re in
over 10 states in all, basically anywhere their distributor
UNFI covers. “ My goal is 10,000 pints a month,
but at 8,000 pints, my husband gets to retire from FEDEX
and work on the ice cream full time.” Sibby adds,
with a smile in her voice.
is pretty good news for Sibby, because business is growing,
and the amount of business she has now is paying all
the bills. Her entire lifestyle should be in some textbook,
demonstrating it is possible to start out small and
avoid debt by growing in accordance with your resources.
started thinking about this many years ago. Fifteen,
to be exact. She bought her hundred acre non working
farm off of her uncles, and sat on the property while
she and her husband worked full time and raised their
family. Eventually, she began restoring the property,
little by little, working first with the historic Norwegian
stone silos and barns, and built another barn out of
recycled lumber. She then sought out the advice from
the business school professors at the University of
Madison which took her on the next phase of her journey--
projections, equipment purchase, and all the steps of
getting the factory certified organic. “My capacity
for production is going to be well over 4 million pints
a year, but I don’t have to be that big,”
Sue comments. “I just want a place to raise my
family and have everyone feel a part of something bigger
organic ice cream business is a symbol of a growing
phenomena in America. Just when you thought all the
inherent problems of mass produced food would pop open
at the seams and bring with it a trail of safety problems,
higher costs, and healthy food issues, the other side
of the “pop” turns out to be a return to
the small, local producer, who not only produces a higher
quality product, but keeps the money in the hands of
the local producers. When you see an organic product
on the shelves, you are usually seeing the fruition
of someone’s deep rooted vision of health, environmental,
and economic issues. You are rarely looking at the result
of Madison Avenue’s advertising teams pouring
over images designed to lull you into buying their product.
these products are slowly making their way on to American
grocery shelves everywhere, they are already overseas,
where appreciative foreign markets from all over the
globe scarf up limited quantity, very expensive products
that carry the health profile they are looking for.
In those markets, price is not the issue, only quality
Sibby’s Organic Ice cream is extremely well priced
, even below the non organic super brands, and maybe
we have that good ole Wisconsin soil to thank for that.
Her goal was to bring ‘em all back to the farm,
and she succeeded in that. What’s next for Sibby?
Just keep on making more ice cream.