I learned about Saint David Dairy, a new micro dairy located on St David St in the former premises of a catering company, via a tweet from Backstreet Eating, and I went to get some to try it. I’m fussy about milk. I barely consume 1 litre a week, and it’s not expensive, so there’s no reason not to consume the best milk you can find.
I’m old enough to remember how good even ordinary supermarket milk used to be – it was sold in glass bottles with a foil seal, and had a thick blob of cream floating on the top. The reward for being first to the breakfast table in the morning was being able to pour that blob of cream over my cornflakes.
In recent years the filtering and standardising of milk, commonly known as the permeate scandal, has demonstrated to consumers that all milk is not equal and much of ordinary supermarket milk is not worth consuming. Really good milk can only be found at specialty shops, not supermarkets.
The information about permeate from Diary Australia and the ABC show The Checkout is misleading. Both fail to acknowledge that consumers often found that the cheap supermarket milk containing permeate had an unappetising grey/green tinge, looked watery and lacked taste. Technically it was milk but it wasn’t good milk.
For some time I’ve been drinking only unhomogenised milk, but finding it in Fitzroy can be a frustrating experience. The easiest one to find is the organic unhomogenised 1 litre by Parmalat, which you can find in supermarkets like Coles, though it is often missing from the shelf. Supply seems limited.
The Vegie Connection on Brunswick St has seemingly stopped stocking 1 litre bottles of milk. It can also be difficult to find 1 litre milk from Whole Foods on Smith St. They often run out of stock by about midday so if you visit in the late afternoon there’s none left. The Elgaar milk they stock is great but it’s from Tasmania and I’d prefer to minimise my food miles. I only buy Australian fruit juice for example, and mostly Victorian wine and beer.
St David milk is produced about 100km from Melbourne in Victoria. It’s not organic, but that’s less important to me than the quality, the production methods including it not being homogenised and the food miles. Most importantly, its delicious and creamy and doesn’t look watery. It’s as least as good as any of the brands you can buy at Whole Foods or elsewhere.
They have some photos of their facilities on their Facebook page. They don’t list stockists on their website, and so as far as I know Backstreet Eating is their first retailer. The staff at Backstreet seem excited about it and their baristas are using the milk. It costs $3.50 for the 1 litre and $4.50 for the 2 litre there. I got a 2 litre so I could do lots of tasting.
It’s easy to make fun of artisanal foodie obsessions and inner urban hipster trends, but this is a genuinely good product with environmental credentials. I encourage you to try this milk and to ask your favourite food shops to stock it. If it’s too cold for you to be eating cereal for your breakfast at the moment, do what I did last night. Find your stash of Casa Iberica’s very best hot chocolate in your cupboard, break off a slab and melt it in some gently warming Fitzroy milk.