After a long career flying planes, long-time Ahwatukee Foothills resident Dale Tuck is taking on a very different career — supplying the Valley with raw milk.

Tuck and his family lived in Ahwatukee for more than 20 years but when his grown kids moved to Maricopa, he and his wife followed. At 65, when Tuck was forced to retire from being a pilot, he decided to try something new.

“As I was approaching that time, the most commonly asked question was ‘What are you going to do with yourself?’” he said. “I got to thinking and I’m too young to just sit around watching reruns of ‘SportsCenter’ all day every day, so I kind of came up with this plan because dairy was kind of in the family.”

Tuck’s son-in-law had owned a dairy in the past and had some expertise on which he could rely. The family saw a special need for raw milk, so they built Fond du Lac Farms in Casa Grande from the ground up, aimed at producing raw milk.

It has taken over a year to get the dairy up and running, but now Tuck has 16 cows ready for milking and is supplying raw milk to several Sprouts locations around the Valley.

Traditional milk is pasteurized, meaning it’s heated to eliminate any bacteria in the milk. That process, Tuck said, also eliminates certain enzymes and proteins. The quality of raw milk is maintained by what Tuck calls “meticulous cleanliness.”

“It’s thoroughly tested twice a week by a certified, long-standing, well-thought-of lab here in the Phoenix area and it’s extremely, extremely clean,” he said. “By not pasteurizing, we keep in all the good stuff and eliminate the bad stuff by just being a lot more careful.”

The business has been a lot more work than Tuck imagined, but he says the reaction to the final product has been positive.

“All the feedback we get is ‘This is the best-tasting milk I have ever tasted,’ ” he said. “The reality is we leave all the cream in, so it is extremely rich almost to the point of being sweet. It takes me back to my childhood when we had milk delivered to our door in the morning. It’s a really delicious and nutrient-rich milk.”

For more information on Fond du Lac Farms, visit www.fonddulacfarms.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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