Meet the Vendors: Avalon Dairy

Monday December 21, 2015

Avalon dairy logo1

Avalon Dairy has protected the quality of its dairy products for the past century, forming a story as iconic as their glass bottles.


Jeremiah Crowley moved from Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula to the west coast seeking a piece of the gold rush in 1906. He ended up falling back on a plan B, purchasing a modest farm with six cows. This humble beginning set in motion a tale of marathon-like persistence, culminating in 1966, when Avalon Dairy ended up the last independent dairy in British Columbia after hundreds of other dairies conglomerated or sank during the depression and wars.


In the 1930s, Jeremiah diversified Avalon with pasteurization to keep afloat. He set out to make his own equipment, building and selling pasteurizers to other dairies. The milk industry began to prosper in the late 1940’s, and Avalon competed through investing in new equipment. When Jeremiah died in 1950 three brothers who had been running the dairy -- Everett, Harvey and Con – took over the company.


Throughout the years Avalon set itself apart from competition. In 1961 Avalon expanded its production line to 1% and 2% milk, chocolate milk, cottage cheese, buttermilk, and Italian cheese. Gay Hahn, who started as a secretary at Avalon, catalyzed the addition of organic milk to Avalon after witnessing a growing demand for it at her local farmer’s market in the 1990’s. In 1999, the Dairy bought 25 cows to produce 19 000 liters of organic milk.


Today about 90% of the milk Avalon produces is organic. Avalon’s automated plant in Burnaby processes milk from farms in the Fraser Valley, where looking after the soil and the animals that graze on it is a primary concern. Lee Crowley, who is Jeremiah’s grandson, owns the dairy, and Gay Hahn is CEO. They still offer glass bottles that can be reused, recycled, and returned.


Avalon Dairy’s organic butter is seasonally grass-fed. Grass feeding cows increases CLA, a type of fatty acid shown to improve markers of inflammation, along with omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and beta-carotene in the dairy produced. Health-conscious consumers following ancestral and “primal” diets may also be interested in Avalon’s unhomogenized milk, with cream that rises to the top. Recent research has found that eating and drinking full-fat dairy products is linked to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, which is encouraging to anyone who tolerates and enjoys dairy.


When asked, Gay Hahn said her favorite Avalon products are the organic aged cheese and cottage cheese. The organic cottage cheese makes a low-calorie, high-protein snack and is full of helpful bacterial enzymes. Other creative snack ideas could be adding Avalon milk to a smoothie to create a creamsicle flavor. Or adding their yogurt to your own favorite smoothie recipe to produce a luxurious, creamy texture.


Experiencing the high quality of Avalon Dairy products evokes appreciation for the resolve it took them to succeed over the years. A milk bottle *cling* and cheers to Avalon’s continued success.



Emailed responses from Gay Hahn