A few weeks ago, The Courier-Journal published an article about Ehrler’s Micro Dairy and their dairy delivery service in parts of Louisville. Growing up in Virginia, there were at least two instances where my family bought our dairy products from the local butter and egg man, so I was very intrigued to hear that something like this was available in Louisville. I just received my first delivery this past weekend. It was so exciting to come back from walking the dog to find fresh, local milk on my doorstep… it tastes just as good as I remember.
After reading that newspaper article, I wanted to know a bit more about the dairy industry in Kentucky. For much of the twentieth century, Louisville and the surrounding area was home to a number of local dairies. Most of Louisville’s milk was produced by local dairy farmers who lived close enough to deliver their product in their own horse-drawn vehicles. In the 1930s, a milk ordinance was introduced in Louisville to limit the amount of bacteria in milk, making it safer to drink. Home delivery was how most people received their milk and dairy products, and Louisville was home to more than 24 independent dairies. Currently, Kentucky is both an importer and exporter of dairy products.
The Filson has several items in our collection that may be of interest to the dairy enthusiast, from books and pamphlets to photographs and maps. I found a lot of information about Louisville’s early milk cooperative in As I Recall it: 1930-1960, Some Recollection of our Early Milk Cooperative by Ben Allen Thomas, Sr. We also have a great book about grocery chains called Don’t Make A&P Mad (though it wasn’t truly relevant to this post, I enjoyed looking through it). These items and several others can be found in The Filson's special collections department and our library.
It will be interesting to see if Ehrler's initiative will start a widespread revival of home delivery for dairy and groceries. In the meantime, I'll be giddy every Saturday morning when I receive that week's dairy delivery.