The Milkman Cometh, Again

Fun and interesting story. We were getting milk delivered to our door as recently as maybe 1995.

The Milkman’s Comeback Means Dairy At The Door And More : NPR: “All over the country, trucks are now delivering fresh milk, organic vegetables and humanely raised chickens to your door — though in New York, the deliveries come by bike. Fifty years ago, about 30 percent of milk still came from the milkman. By 2005, the last year for which USDA has numbers, only 0.4 percent was home delivered. But while we don’t yet have the official government numbers on this trend, there’s no doubt that bottled milk is once again showing up on stoops in the pre-dawn hours. South Mountain Creamery in Maryland began home delivery in 2001 with 13 local customers. Today they have 8,500 home delivery accounts in five states. The company promises there will be no more than 48 hours between the time the cow is milked and the bottle arrives at your door.

It’s more than just produce and milk. Farmers and dairymen have tapped into a regional network of food producers, and they now offer grass-fed meats, hand-churned butter, pesticide-free lavender, gluten-free bread and unprocessed honey.”

  • Harry

    Forty eight hours from udder to milk box is possible if you have the cows near the bottling machinery, but that is not the crucial thing when it comes to milk quality. The key part is what happens before the milk is pasteurized.

    You have to start with a healthy cow — no mastitis. You need clean milking equipment and a clean udder, and the milk has to go directly into a clean refrigerated tank, which is typically picked up by a refrigerated tank truck and transported to a dairy, where the milk is pasteurized shortly thereafter.

    Between milking and pasteurization (which kills much of, but not all of) the bacteria, including unlikely brucellosis and TB bacteria, every step in the process is time-critical.

    Every load from each farmer’s bulk tank has to meet minimum standards, which are achievable with reasonable care, but some dairies are stricter than others when it comes to bacteria and leukocytes. Think of it as the bacteria excreting waste prior to being killed off, resulting in an off flavor.

    Most people have never drunk really good milk because it is unavailable nearly everywhere. But there are noticeable differences between different brands in most supermarkets. I favor a relatively small local dairy over the big ones. This dairy still delivers, by the way, but they discontinued service when our household consumption dropped.

    The really good milk is like a good bottle of Chassagne Montrachet. The good milk in the store is like a good Napa Chardonnay. The generic milk ranges from Gallo Chablis to Thunderbird. None of it will kill you.

    Incidentally, so-called organic milk is probably better because more care is taken, not because it is organic. Hell, s— is organic, as is all milk, but milk is still food. One principle of good dairying is that the hay goes in the manger, the bedding goes under the cow, and the manure goes in the gutter. Do not mix that order up.

    • speedmaster

      Wow, a lot of interesting stuff in there, thanks, Harry!