Ed Hartz is a milkman with a mission. He wants to “revolutionize the food distribution system” by taking us back to the days when milkmen delivered local dairy products to our doors. Even if you don’t remember pulling glass milk bottles from a galvanized container stationed by the back porch door, it’s likely you can picture the image. Ed’s goal is to turn that image into reality and revive the tradition of the milkman in Fairfield County. With a truck painted like a Holstein, he has aptly named his new business The Milkman Company, and he is working to spread the word that the Milkman is back and better than ever with deliveries of milk (including raw milk), eggs, cheese, yogurt, meats and other farm fresh products.
When I asked Ed why anyone would need a milkman these days, when many of us are in grocery stores multiple times during the week, his answer was quick and direct. “Because you can’t get what I have at the grocery store. My products are fresher, healthier and taste better than anything at the store. And, you save a trip to the store, where you’ll probably end up buying more than you need. By ordering from the Milkman Company, you are supporting local farm families and providing the freshest, healthiest products to your family.”
Ed Hartz is a no nonsense guy who speaks frankly and passionately about the importance of sustainable agriculture and going back to a safer, cleaner, more traditional way of sourcing our food. After years working in investment banking and owning his own business, Ed was determined to do something “that makes a positive difference and helps others.” His lifelong interest in nutrition led him to look more closely at the local food movement and at the realities of commercial farming. “I realized that animals that don’t get out of the barn and are loaded with antibiotics can’t be the best option. Being the Milkman, allows me to give people a choice and affect positive change in a real down to earth manner; to help others and my own family with good work, from good work.
To ensure the quality of the products he carries, Ed spent the last year establishing relationships with a few select family farms in Connecticut and the Hudson Valley that use sustainable agricultural practices. These methods do not harm the environment, treat animals with respect, are humane for workers, support the local community and ultimately raise and produce food that is healthy for consumers. The Milkman Company only sells products from farms that adhere to a sustainable agricultural model.
One of those farms is Ronny Brook Farm in Ancramdale, New York, a family dairy that began operating in 1941. Ronny Brook raises their own cows and produces all their dairy products on premise. They haven’t introduced a new cow into their herd in more than 10 years, nourish the herd with feed grown almost exclusively on their land, and graze the cows for 3 seasons (only 10-12% of the cows on America’s farms are grazed at all). The USDA has determined that pasture fed cows produce milk with 5 times the level of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an anti-carcinogen, than cows that are confined. Ronny Brook uses no artificial growth hormones, and their milk is low temperature pasteurized, which keeps it safe but not over-processed. By contrast, organic milk sold at supermarkets is often ultra pasteurized at high temperatures, giving it a longer shelf life, but destroying beneficial enzymes and bacteria.
While the idea of a milkman may seem anachronistic, The Milkman Company’s timing may be right on target. The National Restaurant Association’s annual Chef Survey identified locally sourced meats, locally grown produce and sustainability as the top 3 trends for 2011. According to the survey, “Locally sourced food and a focus on sustainability is not just popular among certain segments of consumers anymore; it has become more mainstream.” In fact, milkmen and other home delivery services providing local products are thriving in communities in New York City, Westchester County, Virginia, the Berkshires and beyond.
So, what will The Milkman bring to your door? Milk, of course, including raw, 1% and 2%, whole, skim and chocolate, as well as heavy cream and half and half. Also in the dairy category, drinkable yogurt from Ronny Brook and Millborne Farms – which were so good my daughter and I fought over them, flavored and plain yogurts, eggs, cheese and butter. You can also order bread from Fairfield Bread Company and Wave Hill Bread, BoraBora Fruit Juices from the Hudson Valley, local meats including beef, bacon and sausage, as well as packaged meats from Nodine’s Smokehouse – a Mario Batali favorite.
The Milkman Company, based in Newtown, is a new service and is currently building a customer base in Fairfield, with hopes to expand throughout Fairfield County. Ed owns one truck, but envisions a day when he has 10 – 20 milkmen delivering farm fresh dairy and meat products to our doors. He applauds other companies around the country who have thriving home delivery services and locally salutes Deb Marsden of CT Farm Fresh Express for her work in connecting consumers to local farmers. Of his work, Ed says, “I hope more people copy the idea; it’d be my contribution to mankind.”
The Milkman Company, Ed Hartz, 203-426-7141; www.themilkmancompany.com