Is It the Return of the Milkman?
In Middleton, Maryland, the milkman isn't a nostalgic figure of the past.
However, the delivery service of South Mountain Creamery is anything, but traditional. While the farm provides a delivery service of dairy, meat, eggs and bread to about 7,000 households, to accommodate growing demand, South Mountain Creamery has implemented robots to milk the cows and has created its own software to map supply routes.
This is a great example of technology working symbiotically with the farm-to-table movement. The products go out immediately after they are fetched. General Manager Peter Lee explains to The Washington Post, "The cooler that's full [of milk] today will be cleaned out tonight at 12:15. The milk is not 24 hours old. It doesn't get fresher than that. The eggs are pulled today, and they go out tomorrow."
This process evokes the days when most food came from local venders, products weren't shipped all around the world and seasonal produce wasn't available all year round. The enthusiasm and success surrounding South Mountain Creamery suggests a general attitudinal shift toward conscientious food consumption. Consumers have grown more environmentally conscious, more interested in food quality and more in tune with the origins of products.
Currently, South Mountain Creamery ships its products to homes in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Virginia and D.C. The task takes 25 trucks to navigate 80 routes. When Google Maps proved imprecise, the truck drivers began using software called Roadnet, which generates a map based on delivery stops. If a customer cancels or changes his order, the Roadnet software adjusts the delivery map.
Lee explains that this more precise form of navigation has helped to decrease their gasoline consumption. Roadnet hopes to provide each driver with MobileCast, another of its products, which via tablet will allow for real-time information on traffic and delivery changes. This could replace the farm's paper-based system for a greener process.
This promising company demonstrates that technology can complement a movement toward locally grown food. The milkman is making a comeback!
Check out the slideshow above for more facts about farm sustainability and the dairy industry.