September 07, 2006

Not In Your Neighborhood

At the store where I made my purchase, the half gallon of Oberweis Dairy whole milk sells for $3.89, which sounds like a lot of money for a half gallon milk. When you consider the big difference in taste, the fact that it is bottled in glass which preserves that flavor, and the absence of veterinary pharmaceuticals, $3.89 is not really that outlandish. And unlike the plastic milk in the plastic jugs, none of this milk sits in the refrigerator long enough to go to waste. That in itself makes the price reasonable. I hate waste, particularly food, and having to pour curdled milk down the drain, milk that should have been consumed by someone, sickens me.

The half gallon I bought Tuesday evening is almost gone. Everyone likes it, and this is one bottle of milk that will not go to waste.

I was so pleased at having found this milk that I came to work extolling the virtues of Oberweis Dairy. One of my co-workers informed me that she, too, likes the milk from Oberweis Dairy, and that she gets it delivered to her home the old fashioned way: the Milkman. And for much less than the markup they add at the grocery. $2.75 for a half gallon of whole, with the other grades progressively less expensive based on the fat content.

The idea of being able to order my dairy needs on a weekly basis, have them delivered to my door, make changes to my order anytime either online or over the phone, and have my bill deducted automatically from my checking account via my debit card was almost too good to be true. No more lugging home those heavy jugs from the grocery store. No more leaking jugs leaving scum on my refrigerator shelves. No more pouring out curdled plastic milk...

Actually, it was too good to be true. Oberweis Dairy apparently is quite selective about which neighborhoods into which it will delve with it's products. I'm not sure if it's the average appraised value of the homes, the median income, the "Yuppy:Everone Else" ratio, or some other factor or formula which helps Oberweis Dairy determine which neighborhoods deserve their products. Whatever it is, my neighborhood does not meet their criteria.

You see, I live in a lower-middle class, blue collar, ethnically diverse area that sits on the near-westside of Indianapolis. The neighborhood is just outside of Center Township, with it's huge areas of forced gentrification that force elderly homeowners and the middle class out of their homes, and ever increasing tax assessments that make it impossible for the poor to afford even an undesirable apartment. It is also just outside of Speedway, an extremely stable, ethnically homogenous area of relatively high property values and very little turnover in ownership.

My neighborhood, the neighborhood I am in, the neighborhood I chose to live in, the neighborhood I choose to stay in, is a dynamic area of long-time residents, young couples buying their first homes and transient renters. We are the neighborhood where the displaced Center Township residents come when they lose their homes to a pretentious property snob or a predatory realtor, where the illegals come when skinheads from just south of us drive them out of their neighborhoods, where you are just as likely to see a toy poodle roaming the streets as a pit bull, and where the older residents still sit on their front porches and keep an eye on the kids, especially when strangers and toughs wander through.

It is not, apparently, a neighborhood who's residents merit milk that might actually be good them. At least Oberweis Dairy seems to think not. Otherwise there would be grey, insulated milk boxes the front porches of the little, frame homes that line the streets, tucked under tall, old trees older in some cases than the neighborhood itself.

I look at this situation, at business like Oberweis Dairy, Ben and Jerry's, Target, Starbucks, Wild Oats, and countless others that quietly trumpet their civic responsibilities, their community activism and their charitable works in million dollar ad campaigns. None of them is in my neighborhood.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 11:43 AM | Comments (4903) | TrackBack