The Milkman Cometh | Mexico | Living in Mexico

The Milkman Cometh

Here it is December already. A good time to discuss milk.MM04

I know y'all get yours in cardboard cartons from the supermarket. Some of you avoid consuming hormone- and pesticide-laden factory-farmed milk by buying organic factory-farmed milk at $2.99 a half gallon. Younger, hipper Mexicans buy their milk in cartons, too, but so far they can't get organic milk that way.

For organic milk, they need to see this man:


Eugenio here is walking down the street, none too swiftly, with his unrefrigerated milk can slung on his back, his government-approved half-liter measure in his right hand, ready to sell you some fresh-off-the-farm milk.

Bring your own container.

A fair amount of the milk consumed in San Miguel is sold this way, but milk sellers on foot are the exception. Usually, cooks listen for the sound of a unique-sounding horn, signaling them to go outside with their pots and buckets to meet the man in the pickup truck.


The milk they buy is unhomogenized and probably (I'm guessing) unpasteurized. Raw milk. Members of the '70s Back-to-the-Land Movement would approve.

Juanita, the cook at the Umaran house we rented, bought a pot of milk every few days. Sometimes she'd let it sit on the counter with a towel over it, to let the cream rise. Other times, she'd boil it to concentrate it for soups or flan. I would get a little nervous when I saw milk sitting out, but everybody in the house looked healthy, so I just shut up and ate what was put in front of me.


Mostly it's the older folks that buy milk from the itinerant milk sellers. When they were girls, that was the only way milk came, and what was good enough then is good enough now.

Plus, they don't have to carry it home from the grocery store—a real issue as most of them don't own cars.

But times are changing. The new Comerciál Méxicana Mega Store out at the Pílipa glorieta (traffic circle) opened last weekend. It makes Wal-Mart look like the old Boonton A&P grocery store. There must be a hundred linear feet of cold cases full of milk in cartons, not to mention pallets of unrefrigerated ultrapasteurized milk in the middle of the aisle.

Mexican yuppies aren't home when the milkmen come. Anyway, they're too busy managing banks or designing houses to buy food from more than one source. Just one stop at the supermarket—that's all they have time for. Load up the cart with, among other things, milk cartons, and get home in time to watch the Mexican equivalent of Wheel of Fortune.