John Prine and Purity Dairy

John Prine I can’t imagine a better person to run a dairy than Tom Cullen. We ran into Tom and his wife Beth tonight while wandering the streets of downtown Charlottetown and this feeling was only confirmed.

We first met Tom and Beth several years ago at a dinner party, and I spent a large chunk of that evening questioning Tom about various and sundry aspects of the dairy world; he seemed surprising unannoyed by this and, indeed, seemed to revel in talking about his world.

At that point in history, and probably still, (and sensibly so) Tom was quite unacquainted with the Internet; and so at the time in the evening when the fiddles would have been taken out were we more culturally capable, out came the laptop and a connection to the Internet, and a challenge to Tom to name a topic that he wanted to know something about. “How about John Prine,” he said daringly, “try and find out what he’s up to these days.” (Tom is a fan, you see.)

And so off we went. We were lucky enough to quickly stumble upon the official John Prine website and, on a lark, we sent a note of greetings to John Prine’s manager. Although not completely converted by this experience, Tom seemed a little more open at least to seeing some possibility in all of this newfangledness. And even more so when, a few days later, an email arrived from John Prine’s manager sending greetings back, wishing us well, and updating us on John’s life.

Purity Dairy Jug

In any case, Tom runs Purity Dairy just around the corner and up the street a bit from us in Charlottetown. Purity is one of the last independent dairys on the Island. In the milk business it’s awfully hard to differentiate your product from the other guy’s — it’s “just milk” after all — and so it’s really a business built on service and personality.

Tom knows this, and you can see and feel the result in everything that Purity does. In jaunty design of their new delivery truck. In their new recyclable packaging (pictured above). And in the simple fact that they’re all very nice people, genuinely interested in what they do.

It’s heartening to know that in this world where everyone is amalgamating and merging and comglomerating you can still operate a small-scale, family-run business.

Purity Dairy products are available in stores across Prince Edward Island, including Eddie’s Lunch. You can hear Tom and Beth’s son Timothy on Island Morning on CBC Prince Edward Island. Remember: Parents Prefer Purity Products.