He shows up at your front door with a crate of glossy milk-filled bottles, whistling and smiling and tipping his hat to the neighbors as they stroll by. He’s the milkman. And he’s not just a thing of the Leave It to Beaver bygone era; he’s part of the local food movement happening today, all around us in major cities… and he might just be showing up at a doorstep near you. Check out why the milkman is making a comeback, and why you might want to jump in on this trend.
The dairy industry has gotten a rotten rap in recent decades, and rightfully so. The modern dairy industry in America has turned something wholesome (fresh, raw milk) into something overly mechanized, pasteurized and downright terrifying. Modern dairy can be inhumane to the cows on the land, environmentally devastating to the pastures cows are farmed on, and the milk itself is often laden with growth hormones, fertilizers, pesticides and a slew of other chemical residues unfit for human health.
But the local food movement has been picking up speed, and thanks to consumers’ demands for fresh, organic foods, dairy is but one of many foods regaining integrity in our food supply. Local ranchers have begun producing humanely-raised meats, and local dairy farmers are once again raising grass-fed cows without the use of inhumane practices or questionable growth hormones.
So maybe it shouldn’t be a complete surprise to learn that along with the return of the organic dairy farmer comes the milkman, delivering fresh milk to your doorstep. We’re seeing it in England most of all, where consumers are allowed to buy raw, unpasteurized dairy directly from the producer, and we’re now seeing it crop up in the States. In Fairfield County, Connecticut, raw milkman Ed Hartz believes that, “By ordering from the Milkman Company, you are supporting local farm families and providing the freshest, healthiest products to your family.” Even in Los Angeles, milkman Jim Pastor provides dairy delivery to southern California residents, serving thousands of residents daily.
The notion of the “milkman” may be romantically nostalgic, but it makes a great deal of sense from an environmental perspective.
Aside from getting back to a more wholesome, unadulterated dairy product, the milkman process has additional benefits. It cuts back on grocery bills by making unexpected trips to the grocery store (I always come back with 20 things in my cart that weren’t originally on my list), and it cuts back on the gas trip from having to run out just for fresh dairy. From an energy perspective, the milk in glass bottles is far less wasteful than that served in plastic (and I could personally do without the leaching of plastics into my full-fat milk), and the bottles can be reused endlessly. Furthermore, more energy is wasted in the act of packaging processed foods than in the actual transport of it, so by cutting out excess packaging of regular dairy products, you’re supporting a more energy-efficient system.
And, of course, buying directly from the source supports a local family farmer.
Whether or not American consumers will be granted the right to purchase raw dairy products remains to be seen. But in the meantime, they’re beginning to take the steps they can by supporting local farms and the local milkman.