A feature story in Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer covered the impending closure of the local Trauth Dairy after 91 years in operation. It’s disappointing news.
Three generations of the Trauth family had been making eggnog (a local legend, if you’re into that), a zesty French onion dip, cultured buttermilk and—our staple Trauth product—cottage cheese. We buy the cottage cheese from Gibbs, one of our favorite Findlay Market stands; they get it direct from the dairy on Thursday afternoon and we buy it by the tubful on Saturday mornings. It’s incredibly fresh, and it tastes like it.
The family sold the plant in 1998 to Suiza Foods, seeking to avoid a sale to the dairy behemoth Dean Foods. Sure enough, Dean bought out Suiza just a few years later.
It’s another example of the decline in local and regional food providers, a problem I’ve written about previously, and one that I discussed at great length with Warren Taylor of Snowville Creamery in my recent Edible Ohio Valley profile.
A Dean Foods spokesperson quoted in the story said, “We’ve really made a very concerted effort to ensure [local dairy brands’] heritage stays intact. That said, the reality is that the dairy industry is a highly competitive industry and an industry that is really focused on low costs and being as efficient as possible. Customers expect the best possible prices when they go to the store, and our retail partners that we sell to expect that as well.”
And here, my friends, is the problem. “Consumers expect the best possible prices.” We’ve built this Walmartesque culture, fueled by cheap goods that are poor in quality. It’s totally our fault. We get what we pay for. As a result, we have refrigerators full of cheap processed foods, closets full of cheap clothes that fall apart after 3 washes, basements full of cheap plastic toys and junk we really didn’t need in the first place.
Can we make a commitment to buying better things—and fewer of them? Can we agree that quality trumps price? And can we urge retailers to stop selling us cheap shit, simply by making small changes in our buying habits? Please comment here and let me know what you think.