Yesterday we turned our attention to what readers were saying on the Globe and Mail website in response to the latest developments — a $55,000 fine — in the Michael Schmidt raw milk case. Well, since then, lots more exciting commentary has been posted by impassioned readers, from both sides of the fence. Here’s a sampling:
“ Bob F from Canada writes: I find the comments of posters here perplexing. Wonder what your thoughts would be if this article read ” Raw milk producer kills 7 children”. The Laws of the Canada are in place to keep people safe, no matter how small the perceived risks may be. You cannot simply break the law because you deem it unfair. If you wish to have a law changed work within the system to do so. Without this we would have anarchy. There are some exceptions to this rule but we are talking about the right to drink milk.
Katherine R from Canada writes: John Doe, I checked out the website you posted – most postings seem rather shrill, to be honest. I don’t doubt that this farmer has excellent facilities and has never made anyone sick. But can we trust all farmers to be as clean and professional as Schmidt? I wouldn’t, given what I know of the meat industry.
Globular Cluster, a Cdn from United States writes: Technically, we have to apply the law equally to everyone. The convivtion was for contempt of court, which did in fact occur. Therefore, the application of a fine is justified. It doesn’t seem like an unreasonable amount. The real test begins with the actual trial for selling raw milk. I wish Michael Schmidt all the best. As long as it is labelled as what it is, then it should be up to the buyer to decide. Stick it to the dairy board please!!!!!!
John Doe, from Toronto, Canada wrote: Katherine, we’re not suggesting that the milk from “all farmers” farms is suitable to drink raw. Just this past summer, Quebec has set up standards for the production of artisan-scale soft cheese, aged under 60 days. There’s no reason their standards shouldn’t be applicable to raw milk. And, according to my contacts in BC, the 1954 Royal Commission looking into questions around milk prior to the formation of BC’s milk marketing board recognized that those people who wanted raw milk for health reasons had a valid concern and that there should be ways for those people to get the milk. What we’re looking at with Schmidt is not something just any farmer could do. This is an alliance of people who know each other and want to farm together and drink the milk from their own cows. Now, farmers are doing that all across Canada and the government doesn’t seem worried about them dying off from milk-borne disease. According to a 2008 report from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, dairy is at the absolute bottom of the list as a source of food borne illness. Now you could say that’s because it’s all pasteurized. But there have been a not inconsiderable number of cases of illness associated with pasteurized milk over the last 70 years since its widespread introduction. The study I mentioned is explained on Bill Marler’s blog. He’s an attorney specializing in cases of food poisoning. Here’s the link:
John Doe, from Toronto, Canada wrote: There are at least two main questions around raw milk. The chief question that’s behind all the public commotion is: “Should people have the right to make their own decisions about whether to consume it and feed it to their families? — or not?”
To respond to Bob F above, how many people have died from luncheon meats recently? And nobody’s suggesting they be taken off the market. I believe that the demonizing of raw milk only serves the interests of large-scale agribusiness and food industries who want a standardized, stabilized “product”, which comes ultimately at the expense of people’s health. But the whole health question is quite secondary to the issue of “right to choose”. That’s what it’s all about.
But to address the health/danger question: the number of well documented cases of raw milk causing harm is minimal. Typically, if a patient shows up at a clinic with food poisoning and raw milk has been part of their diet, raw milk is blamed. No concerns about due process, no testing of the milk, raw milk is considered guilty by default.
And yet how many people out there can’t even drink the pasteurized stuff at all because of “allergies”. Well, anecodotal evidence from raw milk drinkers who used to drink pasteurized shows that the “allergy” is, more often than not, an allergy to the processing rather than to milk itself — what a way to alienate customers.
If the Dairy Farmers of Ontario were serious about preserving the family farm and increasing their market share, they’d be studying Schmidt’s methods and seeking to adopt them, not trying to put him out of business.
If we want to keep a thriving Ontario dairy industry and not be importing our milk products from China where some people can’t tell the difference between protein and melamine, we need to take an interest in creative initiatives like Michael Schmidt is demonstrating.
Vote NDP in the next federal/ provincial election. from Toronto, Canada writes: I cant believe people would actually buy into this raw milk. We as consumers are shocked about having E Coli 0157:H7 in our beef, listeria in our deli, salmenella in our chocolate etc…. but these same people aren’t shocked by disease causing pathogens when buying raw milk.
Sure the Ontario courts can sentence this farmer to jail but our taxpayers will be funding this guy so the courts lose even badly.
Angry Calgarian from Calgary, Canada writes: I think chocolate milk poses a greater risk than raw milk. While we continue to ban raw milk–supposedly for the health risks involved–perhaps we should ban things like Trans Fats, HFCS, enriched flour, artificial sweeteners, preserving agents, artificial colours & flavours, and anything else that presents a danger to consumers. Just to be safe, we should also ban fast food, junk food, cigarettes, and alcohol.
The point is that there are many, many consumer items that pose a far greater risk than raw milk does. In fact, some would suggest that pastuerized, skim milk is about as far away from ‘real’ milk as you can get–baby cows and other livestock won’t even go near the stuff.
Carl W from Canada writes: There are risks to getting out of bed in the morning. My opinion, if the milk is properly labeled with the risk described, then that would be just fine. It’s not as if we don’t have a ten thousand year history on the use of raw milk, as compared to our less than one hundred year history with the pasturized version. And then there are a few souls wot think that milk, the pasturized kind too, is gonna kill us all!
This is just one more nail in the coffin of what was once a Canadian democracy. The heavy hand of the state is a complete over reaction, and confirms for me that legal trumps justice every time, which it should not, ever.
ALASTAIR JAMES BERRY from NANAIMO BC, Canada writes: There is absolutely nothing wrong with RAW milk from healthy cows. Canadians have been brainwashed by the BIG DAIRY COMPANIES that have usurped the small local dairies that used to supply the market! Raw milk commands a premium price in the UNITED KINGDOM to this day. And I can tell you the Standard 3.25% HOMO milk , available in the stores today, is damn poor quality and HAS BEEN PARTIALLY SKIMMED , as most cows produce over 4% butterfat milk. Guernseys produce 5 % milk. The dairys like sterile milk…the longer life makes distribution easier and promotes shelf life… But the milk now goes BAD and ROTTEN, whereas fresh pure milk sours due to an entirely different bacterial process. (I have heard of a case where the farm cat drowned in the tanker and was fished out but the central dairy did not notice anything and the sterilization and dilution reduced any bacterial contamination to zero so the milk was deemed fit for distribution.) REMEMBER HOW THESE SAME DAIRIES SOLD TRANSFAT MARGARINE AS SUPERIOR TO BUTTER? Where is the guy, in the TV Ads, saving his HEART by “BUTTERING” his bread with MARGARINE on top of Mount Everest? Notice how LITTLE MISS MUFFETT not longer EATS HER CURDS AND WHEY? It’s because pasteurized milk does not ‘curd’ with RENNET. Notice now how margarines hype their BUTTER TASTE and the word BUTTER is writ large with grass, sun and farm buildings displays on the container. I have had raw milk since I was born 78 years ago and I know the taste of real milk!!!! And store boughten stuff is a poor imitation of what it should be! And incidently why should “WHIPPING CREAM” BE LOADED WITH SEAWEED AND CAROB BEAN GUMS?? Particularly when some studies suggest that carrageenen is cancerogenic…”