Just as an English clothbound cheddar or a delicate handcrafted chèvre expresses cheese at its highest potential, a gulp of milk from Johnston Family Farm in Newborn, Georgia, makes you realize how sublime this everyday schoolchild’s drink can be. In fact, it tastes like the kind of milk that would be used to make exceptional cheese: complexly sweet and creamy. The cream that floats on the surface of Johnston’s whole milk will invoke nostalgia in those who remember the milkman’s daily deliveries in bottles. (The farm also produces skim milk and 2 percent for the calorie-conscious.)
Russell Johnston always sold his family’s artificial-hormone-free cow’s milk to commodity chains that pool producers’ milk, but last year Johnston decided to build his own bottling plant. “It’s the dream of any dairy farmer to eliminate the middleman and capture more of the retail,” he says, “but I’m also doing it because I love to watch the expression on people’s faces when they find out what real milk tastes like.” Johnston is negotiating deals with Whole Foods and Fresh Market, but you can currently buy the farm’s milk at Alon’s bakeries, Sawicki’s in Decatur, or from Johnston himself at the Decatur Farmers Market every Wednesday.
Illustration by Greg Clark