If you've made the trip around the sun more times than most, you might remember the days of the dairy delivery truck and its spiffy uniformed driver. Then, local dairy farms brought glass-bottled milk, foil-wrapped butter, cream, and cartons of eggs to the back door. But doorstep freshness was replaced by multitask shopping. Picking up a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and a pound of meat in one spot replaced the local bakery, the local dairy farmer and the local butcher.
But old-fashioned delivery of local, fresh, hormone-free milk is making a comeback. Jim Price, owner of Lakeview Farms of Fort Mill, S.C., will tell you that when he began his dairy delivery business six years ago, he thought his market would be the folks who remembered those early dairy trucks. He was wrong. His market is the younger. These are the localvores, organic food buyers, environmentalists, and parents wanting the freshest, hormone-free milk for their children.
Homegrown, farm-fresh, eco-friendly is the key to this business. Literally, the milk that was in the cow this morning can be poured in a glass in south Charlotte tonight. In contrast, Price points to the age of milk on the grocery store shelf since three-quarters of that milk is produced from cows outside the Carolinas.
Price, who started his business after retiring from the construction industry, finds his biggest challenge is educating people about milk. He says people have forgotten the taste of fresh milk. While Lakeview Farms does not sell raw milk, which is illegal in North Carolina (legal in South Carolina, though), this milk is slow pasteurized. Also, Lakeview's products do not contain hormones, pesticides or antibiotics.
"We want the highest quality, healthiest foods possible for our customers," Price says. He teamed up with Bush River Jerseys, breeders of award-winning stock cows, and Peeler Dairy, both of Newberry, S.C. Price says that if cows live a healthy lifestyle and are meticulously cared for, they live longer and produce milk longer.
During the predawn hours, the Lakeview trucks make rounds in south Charlotte. Lakeview's delivery zone stretches from Plaza Midwood to Ballantyne. Lakeview sells an insulated container ($39.95) for the milk, which arrives in reusable glass bottles. A nominal deposit for the glass containers is required as well.
Milk is sold in quart and half-gallon bottles; and whole, two-percent or nonfat. A half gallon of milk costs $3.84.
Lakeview Farms has no minimum, and placing orders is easy. The original setup takes less than two minutes online and the company follows up with a phone consultation. Standing orders can be cancelled at any time and additional items can be bought as needed.
Price doesn't want to become a "rolling grocery store," but Lakeview Farms currently sells several dozen items. In addition to dairy products, customers can order local organic brown eggs; Baucom's Best (another local farmer) grass-fed beef; coffee by the pound; Tony's ice cream (made in Gastonia); Indian River orange and grapefruit juice; and stone-ground grits from the Old Mill of Guilford, a mill founded in 1767.