After reaching records highs a year ago, wholesale milk prices–the prices paid to farmers–have plummeted to a 40-year low. As a result, many dairy farms are facing bankruptcy. Two or three large agribusiness concerns control most of the milk industry. Most farmers have no choice but to sell to them, even at a loss. You probably haven’t notice much difference in the price at the store. The “middleman” is making a killing.
There are a couple of area dairies that are bucking the trend. We buy either Iwig or Emerich milk (See “Mum in Bloom” for photos.) Both are small scale, locally owned operations. Both dairies treat their cows humanely and avoid injecting artificial hormones or routine antibiotics. They sell their milk, butter, and ice cream at local grocery stores, and at the Alma Creamery.
When my grandson is visiting we enjoy taking the short walk to the Alma Creamery to buy some cheese and a half-gallon of milk in an old-fashioned glass bottle. In the past year, I have broken three bottles, through my own negligence–on the other hand I haven’t been putting plastic bottles in the local landfill, so I’ve learned not to cry over spilled milk.
I recently learned that at least one of these dairies is having a tough time financially. To all of my friends in NE Kansas–do yourself a favor. See how much better naturally and humanely produced milk tastes. Support Iwig or Emerich. If your grocery story doesn’t sell it, ask them. In Manhattan, Kansas, you can find it at People’s Grocery or Eastside and Westside markets. In Lawrence, try the Merc. Here in Alma both the local grocery story and the Alma Creamery sell it.
If you know of other places that sell local dairy products, let me know.
By the way, the ice cream, chocolate milk, and eggnog (available around Christmas) are fabulous. (More)