Holy Cow, It’s Good!
Promised Land Dairy in Floresville, Texas, is truly the land of milk and honey. On 1,300 acres of mesquite-covered countryside once occupied by honey bee hives, 1,100 Jersey cows graze in divine splendor, producing milk so hallowed that the dairy prints the words of Deuteronomy 26:9 on each bottle. Having sampled several flavors, we can attest to the fact that the milk is indeed richer and creamier than most brands. That’s because Promised Land milk flows from the supple, velvety teats of doe-eyed brown Jersey cows, rather than being jettisoned from the tough-nippled jugs of black-and-white spotted Holsteins, which are used by most dairies. Jersey cows produce milk with more calcium, protein, and nonfat milk solids.
Promised Land milk, a staple on Texas grocery shelves for 13 years and currently sold in 27 states, began appearing in Birmingham dairy cases at Super Target and Wal-Mart Super Centers a month ago. Glass quart bottles sell for about $2, and they are worth it. Homogenized white milk, 2 percent reduced fat, and fat-free milk are available, as are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, and peach flavors. The latter cries out for fresh peaches, vanilla ice cream, and a blender, ditto the strawberry flavor. As for the rich chocolate milk, Promised Land may have produced the current gold standard.
The Promised Land farm is an integrated independent dairy operation, an old-fashioned throwback to the days when a dairy controlled the herd and its diet, processed the milk, and supervised its distribution. “There are many dairies that have herds. But not many of them have cows and a creamery,” says Melody Campbell-Goeken, who handles public relations for the dairy. “It’s one of the last integrated independent dairies in Texas, and probably one of the few in the nation.”
The automation and biotechnology of the modern dairy industry has resulted in a bland product with little distinction between brands flavor-wise. Unlike its competitors, who inject cattle with artificial hormones to increase production, Promised Land refrains from the practice. “They tried using hormones with the product years ago, and the cows just would not produce the milk with the same flavor. So they decided not to use any more hormones,” explains Campbell-Goeken. The milk is available only in glass bottles, which add a nostalgic touch while keeping the product colder and fresher.
During the holiday season, the dairy offers its lavish egg nog, which tastes like melted ice cream. The egg nog is so distinctive that the label is adorned with its own Bible verse, Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the goat, and the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child shall lead them.”