Local Dairy with Milk Delivery?

by Catherine Haug

I was reading an old copy of Cooking Light magazine today, and encountered an article I just had to copy and transcribe here. Could what was once considered ‘old,’ a thing of the past, become new again in the Bigfork area?

Read on for the interview with a modern milkman, and my hope for Bigfork.  See also  our interview with Joe Brenneman, a local dairy farmer.

This article is transcribed from Cooking Light, October 2008

Q&A: Steven Brancato:  A Modern Milkman

The local-food movement is giving a boost to what was once a nearly forgotten trade:  home milk delivery.  Five days a week, Steven Brancato parks on the leafy streets of Detroit’s east side, hops from his truck, and grabs glass bottles of milk from the back for walk-up delivery.  One of a handfull of milkmen in Detroit, Brancato’s Old Fashioned Country Dairy promises the freshest milk money can buy, processed from local farms and bottled just outside the metropolitan area at Calder Dairy.  Most consumers buy skim; for examplle, there’s Tracey Torosian, who has 12 bottles delivered weekly.  “I think this milk is delicious,” she says.  “It has a rich flavor, even though it’s skim.” — Lynne Meredith Schreiber

Q.  What made you decide to become a milkman?

A. I was working at a building manufacturing company in 1976, and I met a guy who was selling his milk-delivery business.  He had 30 to 40 stops and a broken truck.  I thought to myself, “What the heck?”  Today, I have almost 300 residential customers.  Most of them heard about me by work of mouth. I designed my truck to be a driving billboard.  People will stop me on the street for more information.

Q.  What type of milk do you offer?

A. Customers can choose from quarts or half-gallons.  As far as milk choices, I sell natural (non-homogenized, cream on top), whole, two percent, skim, chocolate, buttermilk, and cream — all from summer pastured cows, with no antibiotics or growth hormones.  I leave it in an insulated porch box, in a garage refrigerator, or, with special arrangements, in the home.

Q.  Is it more expensive?

A. Not unless a local store is running a sale.  I don’t charge for the service, so the milk costs $2.50 and up, depending on what you buy.

Q.  What are the advantages of home-delivered versus store-bought milk?

A. First off, freshness; second, you know who you’re buying from; and last, convenience.

[ESP note:  another advantage is nutritional quality because the cows are fed on pasture, which increases natural vitamin A and D, and Omega-3 fat content.  And if the cows are Jersey or Guernsey, better taste than milk from commercial Holsteins.]

Q.  What is a typical delivery day like for you?

A. I wake up at 1:30 AM., and my first customer gets milk at 3:15 AM. It’s nonstop until 3 PM.

Q.  Has the local-food movement influenced your business?

A. In the last two years, more than ever.  People want to know where their food comes from and how far it’s traveled to reach them.  Plus, I’m delivering more than milk.  I provide company, conversation, and accountability.

[ESP comment:  And his business provides community.]

I have a dream

Someone on a farm, perhaps in Ferndale, Swan River, or Creston, starts with one or two cows and forms a cooperative, similar to a CSA.  Each consumer owns part of the cows and their maintenance, and in return, they get their share of the output (milk).  Some of the milk could be raw, for member/owners who prefer the health benefits of raw milk; and some of the milk would be pasteurized, for those member/owners who are not convinced raw milk is safe.

At first, the member/owners would pick up their milk at the farm, but when the member base reaches a certain break-even point, a milk delivery service could be initiated.  Milk delivery is more “green,” in that it saves auto-miles and hence fuel, cutting down on pollutants.

It is my hope that such a dream will become reality in the next year.  And I’m committed to work to make this happen.

4 Responses to “Local Dairy with Milk Delivery?”

  1. Edd says:

    You will first need to find someone who elects to be tied down to a farmstead 365 days a year, and who loves to visit with his bovine friends twice a day. My dad did this for many years, and we were quite the home -bound family.
    I learned that the hay fever which I contracted turned out to be a good excuse for not being responsible to be the one to milk the cows. I did enjoy teaching my ‘city’ cousin how to milk a cow while sitting on a one-legged stool. I also showed him how to direct-feed the cat from that same stool.
    Good luck with your dream….. 🙂

  2. cmhaug4 says:

    Yes, it is a definite day-in, day-out, year-round commitment. But it was a common commitment all across our nation until after WWII, when we became increasingly more mobile due to cheap fuel and transportation. As we move into a low-energy world, I think the need to stay put will get the upper hand, and then it will be easier to make that commitment.

  3. MARK says:

    Great Service, Great Milk and very accomidating. Just what one expects from a GREAT small business. We get all our milk from Brancato’s Old Fashioned Country Dairy. Kinda like stepping back in time….

  4. Angela says:

    I have been having milk delivered by Steve for 19 years now and have no intention of stopping. I just love going to my cooler and there it is, (it tastes so much better than supermarket milk) it also reminds me of my life in England where my parents still get their milk delivered – for the last 80 years.