Starting over is never easy – especially if, for most of your life, you’ve been certain that the life path you’ve chosen is right for you. But after 92 years of business, starting over is exactly what the New York City-based company formerly known as Elmhurst Dairy did.
Their story is a realization of the American Dream — what began as a small family business in 1925 in Elmhurst, Queens that provided milk across Brooklyn and Queens, soon grew into one of the largest dairy companies on the East Coast. If you grew up in the New York Metropolitan area, the carton of milk that came with your school lunch was most likely from Elmhurst. But the way that people consume milk has changed.
Since the mid-1970s, milk consumption in the United States has been steadily declining by 25 percent per capita, according to data from the USDA. More people than ever are choosing to grab a glass of non-dairy milk such as soy, coconut, almond, and others over the traditional cow’s milk that the dairy industry has long campaigned for as the key to building strong, healthy bones.
The decline in dairy milk’s sales have had an undeniable effect on the dairy industry. In California, several farmers have given up on dairy in favor of planting almond groves. And this past August, Elmhurst Dairy, an East Coast dairy staple that survived the Great Depression to go on to provide dairy milk to over 8,300 stores and 1,400 public schools, announced that it would be closing its doors — but not for long. Henry Schwarz, son of the company’s co-founder lamented the company’s closing to The New York Times: “Pasteurized fluid milk has sort of gone out of style. There isn’t much room for our kind of a plant. I tried to keep this open because it was my father’s plant and he asked me to do so.”
Elmhurst was out of the dairy business — but they weren’t out of the game. At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, the largest natural products trade show, they emerged rebranded as just “Elmhurst” with four varieties of non-dairy milk on display — hazelnut, almond, walnut, and cashew.
According to their website, their new line of milks offers consumers “minimally processed nutmilks [that] are just as nutritious and pure as its famous conventional milk, with none of the emulsifiers, thickeners, or stabilizers used in other leading brands.” They do this by using a “cold milling technique” that allows them to create a creamy, milk-like emulsion that doesn’t lose the nutrients of the nuts. As a result, none of Elmhurst’s non-dairy milks are fortified.
The food space in the United States has changed since Elmhurst Dairy first delivered milk in refrigerated trucks nearly 100 years ago. According to an article in The New York Times, Andrew Novakovic, a professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University, said that “milk consumption has declined sharply in the last few years, to about 120 pounds per person in 2015 from about 240 pounds per person in 2010.” Dairy milks are quickly going out of style, with almond milk leading the way. Like the dairy farmers-turned-almond-farmers in California, Elmhurst was left with little choice but to cease all dairy production. But rather than throwing in the towel, they evolved with the times and joined the food revolution. Without a doubt, the future of food as we know it has arrived — and it’s plant-based.
You know what they say. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If you’re interested in plant-based food, check out the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone. With over 8,000 vegan recipes (and over 10 new recipes added daily), you’re going to find something you love!
Lead image source: Elmhurst