I would like to take this time to offer my thanks to the editors of this feature because this topic has been on my mind my entire life. I have been asking the same question for as long as I can remember.

Jody Rich always has all of the ingredients for mashed potatoes on hand. But what do country dwellers do? Photo courtesy of Jody Rich

I’ve always been an in-town gal. When I was growing up, my family would ride through the countryside on Sundays. It was spacious, quiet and pretty, but I’d always ask, “Where do they go for milk?”

As a kid, I could pedal my bike to Sullivan’s Store for Mom, to pick up milk, so she could finish the mashed potatoes for supper. Later, I could drive to Cumberland Farms or Market Basket for it.

Moving to Maine, I saw general stores in most towns, but again, they were in town. Getting out into the countryside, with so much space between houses and no stores for miles, the same question would come up: “Where do they go for milk?”

One answer came when I drove by a dairy farm. OK, so they never run out of milk. What about those potato farms and fields of corn? What about the houses that aren’t on farms? They’re just houses with nothing but trees around them.

Do they keep powdered milk on hand?

Do they plan so well that they don’t run out of milk?

Do they substitute water for the milk? (Oh, I can’t even think about that.)

I can’t expect someone to jump into their vehicle and drive five or 10 miles for milk – can I? By then, the potatoes would have gone cold.

Here’s the situation: My meatloaf is out of the oven. The green beans are simmering in the saucepan. The potatoes have boiled and I’ve started the mashing process. The generous portion of butter has been plopped into the pan and it’s melting beautifully. I reach into the fridge for the milk and find about a teaspoons worth in the jug. (Now don’t go all Ina Garten on me here. I can’t turn this mash-ness into home fries.)

I used the milk up in my morning coffee and didn’t buy any on my way home this afternoon. It is on me, but I’m still milk-less. I can run to John’s Market just down the road and all will be well. But what if I lived out in the countryside? Really, this is a serious question, folks. What do those people do?

Maybe they don’t make mashed potatoes in the country.

Please send all replies to Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich at [email protected].

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