This is a neat story about a business called Amish Country Dairy which is now producing six types of flavored milk. It’s a good example of a business being creative to overcome the unfavorable milk market of recent years.

The flavors (including peach, chocolate, maple, and coffee) are apparently all-natural (using real fruit, etc), and they say they are transparent about what goes in it. The only further thing I’ll say on the product is, wow, maple syrup-flavored milk. Yum. Anything maple-flavored is an Achilles heel for yours truly.

What’s in a name?

But beyond that, one question came to mind on first seeing this: Is this an Amish dairy? As in, Old Order Amish-owned?

A form of “Amish” is in the name, but they never explicitly state that the owner is Amish. This is what leaves a little gray area to explore.

You can view the story and interview with the owner at the link above and judge for yourself (sorry, the video is not embeddable here). I intentionally did not dig super-deep into this question for the purposes of this post, deciding to basically go by just a single view of the info contained in the video/article.

Here are my observations:*

So, is this an Amish dairy? 5 things that made me think “no”:

  • Photo/video of non-Amish workers
  • Factory-like bottling environment (10,000 bottles/day)
  • The business has a Facebook page, started in March (there’s also a website but I intentionally avoided exploring it as well:))
  • The name uses the word “Amish”
  • The location is northern Indiana and there are relatively few Amish dairies there

These are all things that might suggest the business is not Amish, especially when taken together and without further context. However, none of those are deal-breakers indicating a company is definitely not “Amish” – and there are a few more details to consider.

Update: it may not have been as clear as I should have made it what I am doing here:)

These are all certainly possible to see in an Amish-owned business. Some Amish businesses have non-Amish employees (for instance, off the top of my head I can think of examples in Amish companies in the wood products/furniture industries, the building industry, as well as market stands). A decent number of Amish businesses have Facebook pages or websites promoting their products (here’s an example of one Amish-owned food company with a website, or another from the construction industry, or this bulk food store with a Facebook page, managed by someone non-Amish). Some Amish businesses are sizeable manufacturers using sophisticated equipment and operations at a scale we don’t typically see among Amish, such as Kountry Wood Products in Nappanee, Indiana or Pioneer Equipment in Wayne County, Ohio.

The idea was that just looking at each aspect in the list by itself, would that make me think more that “yes” that’s quite common to an Amish business, or “no”, there are more Amish businesses where you wouldn’t see that, than ones where you would (and with the caveat that point #5 is more a region-specific observation a little different than the others).

For example if you showed me a Facebook page belonging to a milk business, and it was called Amish Country Dairy, and then showed me a photo of one of their workers, an English-looking woman in a baseball cap, with no other info, then I’d lean towards saying “no” – that if I had to say based just on those factors, especially considered together, then it’s less likely to be an Amish business. I’d lean towards guessing it was owned by English or maybe someone not Amish but with “Amish heritage”, and that perhaps they are using Amish-sourced milk and the word “Amish” for their marketing (which is a much more common practice to non-Amish-owned companies than to Amish-owned ones). That would be in the absence of any additional information.

And yes I am making a few assumptions about what we might typically think of as “Amish”, but the usual caveats apply about there being a lot of variation across the diverse Amish groups and so on.

So to conclude my windy additional explanation 🙂 I was having fun here with basically a thought experiment about what we traditionally see as characteristic of a typical Amish business – though any of these elements certainly don’t mean or prove a business is not Amish.

Okay, on to the clues which would point me more towards saying “yes”.

Is this an Amish dairy? 5 things that made me think “yes”:

  • The owner’s name is Leon Miller
  • He appears for an on-camera interview but you can only see his arms
  • He speaks with what we might call an “Amish accent”
  • He references his 15 years’ milking
  • This Amish-sounding quote from Miller: “My hope with this business is to create a sustainable milk price for our community’s dairy farmers, that they may stay home and they have a prosperous and make a fair living,”

I could have checked a little deeper but intentionally abstained (that would ruin the fun of speculating here). I have a conclusion in mind, but you can be the judge for yourself.

*There is a more conclusive piece of information, two in fact, on the article/video that I did not see on my first look-through, but which I did on my second, and which seems to give the answer away. Even so, the above is still an interesting exercise when considering the idea of “Amish business” and the assumptions we might make about what that term means.

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