Warning: soapbox aside below
The California Milk Advisory Board might like us to think that all California cows are happy, but I think they might be exclusive to Montebello Dairy, makers of Broguiere’s*. When we made our home in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles, we lived so close to Bristol Farms Market that we made shopping there a habit not because of their gourmet ingredients (Me gourmet? I think not.), but simply because its proximity could be measured in feet. There we primarily sought specialty sodas, bakery items, last minute gifts, and Peet’s coffee. Then, in a milk emergency, I ran over to their dairy aisle and stumbled upon Broguiere’s - a local brand of dairy products in returnable and refillable glass bottles. Along with the cows, I was happy.
Something happened when we moved away. I neglected to look for this LA-area product in Santa Barbara’s dairy cases. But last week I blogged about homemade ice cream and yogurt which jogged my memory of Broguiere’s. Low and behold a call to their friendly customer service rep let me know that I can find their moo juice at six Santa Barbara area stores: Gelson’s, Lazy Acres, Montecito Village Grocery, Ralph’s (can’t remember which one), Tri-County Produce, and one other but my aging brain will not let me retrieve the location.
Needless to say, we are back on Broguiere’s. As I ventured to Tri-County, I was prepared for sticker shock. They wanted $2.79 for a quart which seems about half of what I paid back at Bristol Farms. There is also a $1.50 bottle deposit that I am pleased to pay because the returnable option is so darned important. Though, now that I am more than six months into this packaging reduction excursion, I’m reflecting on how the economics of these kinds of choices add up and how it is likely to be difficult for a lot of people to access, much less afford small, local, sustainable goods.
I have made a conscientious decision to invest in my values, and in products and services with local origins and sustainable or no packaging - these are the primary drivers of my consumer choices. I shy away from big box brands and stores because they represent cheap, mass-produced, low-grade, stuff manufactured by companies all too often getting ridiculous tax breaks and government incentives. I hope we are nearing a turning point where more people will come to believe in the importance of exercising their power to choose where and from whom they buy; that even the smallest investment in a sustainable option helps steer the ship of free enterprise.
*Broguiere’s does not have a web site, but find their contact info on Yelp and call to see where you can pick up a bottle, or have it delivered to you direct if you live in the northwest areas of LA and parts of Ventura County.