Monthly Archives: July 2010

Raw milk farmer celebrates acquittal with operetta — “Milk Trial by Jury” opens tonite at Symphony in the Barn

From a post yesterday on Toronto

A celebratory moment from a dress rehearsal of "Milk Trial by Jury", which opens tonight.

“Remember Michael Schmidt, the dairy farmer that went through a long court battle after being charged with distributing raw milk? Well, looks like Schmidt is extending his fame with a comedic operetta, Milk Trial By Jury, about his saga. (We’re curious how he’ll pull off the police raid with musical pizzazz.) Its three-day run begins tomorrow (quick, get on the ticket-purchasing!) at Schmidt’s own arts venue Symphony in the Barn in Durham and stars Donna Ellen Trifunovich from the Vienna State Opera as well as tenor Mitch Smolkin….” Continue reading

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“Drinking raw milk is worth the risk, advocates say” — National Public Radio

Here’s an excerpt from a recent National Public Radio story about raw milk:

People who believe raw milk is better sometimes go to great lengths to get it. Some buy shares of a cow, and then drive to the dairy to pick up the milk. Photo Allison Aubrey, National Public Radio (NPR)

“Raw milk — milk that comes straight from the cow or goat without being pasteurized — has been effectively banned in many states because the Food and Drug Administration says it presents a health threat. But people who believe it’s an important part of a diet with more local and natural foods are finding ways to get it, and they say it’s worth the risk. Continue reading

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“Voodoo on the Vine” — S.F. Weekly

Images and captions from SF Weekly

Here are some excerpts from a recent story in the San Francisco Weekly Dining section about Biodynamic farming as it applies to grape growing and wine making.

Explaining Biodynamics to journalists is always fraught with the potential for misunderstanding, and it’s no surprise that the writer of this piece, Joe Eskenazi fails to grasp the underlying philosophy, and many of the subtle underlying concepts and hasn’t undertaken the necessary research to be able  to credit biodynamics with much in the way of scientific backing.

Still, what’s interesting here is that biodynamics in grape growing is increasing in popularity, and that this writer is willing to explore biodynamic practices, unusual as they may seem, in considerable detail. Continue reading

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The stage is set for the world premiere of “Milk Trial by Jury” this weekend, July 30th, 31st and August 1st

All the world’s a stage, and after all the rehearsals we’ve been to over the past few years, it’s now time for the command performance of this high drama which pits all the forces and resources of the state against a humble peasant farmer who likes to milk his cows and share that milk with his dear friends.

The stage is set for the world premiere this Friday of "Milk Trial by Jury"

And as Symphony in Barn always likes to lighten things up with musical motifs, this Milk Trial will be enacted after the fashion of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Continue reading

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Interstate transport of privately owned raw milk may be just fine, says FDA rep… or on the other hand, it may not?

David E. Gumpert tries to make sense of the mixed messages the FDA has been sending lately on the subject of interstate “commerce” in raw milk. The following is an excerpt from the latest post on his “The Complete Patient” blog:

“….The evidence is a series of emails between a reporter with Iowa Public Radio and an FDA press official in which the FDA first admits it’s okay for consumers to transport raw milk across state lines, and then changes its mind.

The reporter, Sarah McCammon, in late May inquired into the FDA’s position on consumers bringing raw milk from a state where it can be sold into a state where it can’t be sold. The FDA press person, Michael Herndon, at first put off the question: “We don’t comment on on-going lawsuits publicly.”

Three weeks later, McCammon came back with another tack: “One factual question–is it illegal to purchase raw milk in a state where buying raw milk is legal, and bring it into a state where raw milk sales and purchase are illegal, for one’s own use?” Continue reading

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Russian peasant grandfather became a raw dairy farmer in Manitoba after his siblings died from “bad” milk

Kimberly Hartke has recently posted a fascinating story, titled “A Tale of Two Milks”, by Stanley A. Fishman, author of “Tender Grassfed Meat”, in which he writes about his Russian grandfather, who grew up as the only surviving child of a family raised on distillery-swill milk.

"Old world" dairying was not always so bucolic as it appears in this picture. Detail from Dutch painting

“….Grandfather was 14 when they reached Canada. They lived in a small town near Winnipeg, Manitoba. Grandfather did not go to school, but taught himself to speak English by watching Vaudeville shows and listening to people talk. He had no accent. He also learned to read and write English. He spent a lot of time at the library, reading and studying. After a couple of years, his mother became pregnant. Grandfather went to work for a local dairy farmer. By the time his sister was born, Grandfather had his own small dairy farm….” Continue reading


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Michael Schmidt’s new operetta “Milk Trial by Jury” debuts July 30th, 8pm at Symphony in the Barn, in Durham Ont.


Rehearsals in the Barn are already underway for operetta "Milk Trial by Jury"

Not many defendants mark their acquittal by staging a comic operetta.  But Michael Schmidt, dairy farmer, food activist, and artistic director of Symphony in the Barn, is far from ordinary. Continue reading


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