Excerpts from the Vancouver Observer story by Manda Aufochs Gillespie:
“Supporters and shareholders filled the courtroom in New Westminster, B.C. today to witness whether dairy farmer Alice Jongerden would be found in contempt of court for continuing to milk the cows owned by the Home on the Range milk cooperative.
The judge did not seem to take kindly to Ms. Jongerden having no legal counsel, to her attempts to submit evidence into the case, or to her request for cross-examination of the witness who had signed an affadavit against her. At one point he pointed directly at Ms. Jongerden and seemingly lost his temper, as he raised his voice and jabbed his finger in her direction.
Ms. Jongerden, on the other hand, seemed remarkably poised, further giving the situation a David versus Goliath feel….”
“…..After more back and forth and a ten minute recess where Ms. Jongerden asked the share members present what they wanted her to do: go for an adjournment or face the contempt of court charge today, she decided to seek an adjournment.
The lawyer representing the Fraser Health Authorities had made the one month adjournment conditional on Ms. Jongerden swearing to not produce or distribute any raw milk during that time. After listening to the conversations during the recess, the lawyer tried to change the terms to include anybody who had read the notice, but the judge would not do it. The shareholders frantically began to discuss who would milk their cows.
Courts can wait and fair hearings can be put on hold, but at 4 p.m today, and tomorrow at 4 a.m., the cow’s udders will be full. Someone will have to milk them.”
Here’s an excerpt from a related story, by the same author, also from the Vancouver Observer:
“Raw milk is illegal to sell in B.C., however 45 minutes south in Washington state it is sold legally. The Canada/U.S. border is being driven even further apart (at least in ideology) as the Lower Mainland’s largest raw milk cooperative is being brought to court, again.
This Tuesday, September 14, the Fraser Health Authority will attempt to have Alice Jongerden, the dairy farmer for Home on the Range cooperative, found in contempt of court for “distributing raw milk for human consumption” after Judge Gropper issued a cease and desist on March 18thof this year.
What is at stake is whether or not the Home on the Range cooperative of over 400 herd owners is allowed to continue to receive milk from the dairy cows they collectively own. As a group, they pay dues that supports dairy farmer Jongarden in caring for the herd. A few times a week the farmers bring the milk into the city or herd owners go to the farm to pick-up their “dividends”: unpasteurized milk, butter, and yoghurt. After the March order, all the dairy products are marked with a large: “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.”
“The owners… then use and enjoy their own property in whatever ways, they believe best,” says share member Gordon Watson on his website:http://bovinity.webs.com.
Watson has said that what is really at stake in this debate is a person’s right to make his own informed decision about what goes into his body. Canada is the only G8 country where raw milk is outlawed. And after a decision in early 2010 legalizing raw milk cooperatives in Ontario, British Columbia is coming out as one of the most stridently anti-raw milk places in the world.
Canada made raw milk illegal in 1991. In B.C. it is considered a health hazard under Section 7 of the Public Health Act Transitional Regulations. Why all the fuss? Health officials in Canada say that milk can contain potential pathogens, such as E. coli, and that pasteurization (heat treatment) makes the milk safer by destroying potential pathogens. They say that especially for people with compromised immune systems: the elderly, pregnant women, and children, drinking raw milk could cause severe illness.
Raw milk, or real-milk, enthusiasts say that Health Canada laws have it wrong. They say that raw milk, when raised on small, controlled dairies with healthy, free-ranging cows produce the healthiest milk there is. They point to studies suggesting that raw milk can ease lactose intolerance, provide important probiotics and their associated health benefits, and even provide protection against asthma, allergies, and eczema.
The raw milk fans point the finger right back at health officials and say that it is pasteurized milk that is more likely to become contaminated because it doesn’t have the good bacteria to help fight off any contaminating bad bacteria. As well, herds that supply pasteurized milk do not have to be inspected for disease. Processed milk is being linked to a host of other ailments from infertility linked to skim milk and heart disease from homogenized milk ingestion.
So, what is the truth you may wonder? Is raw milk a magic elixir or is it instant death in a glass bottle? Getting to the truth might never happen in North America. There is very little, if any, good research being done on this question on this side of the ocean. The most recent studies have all come from Europe and have largely found that raw milk is closer to magic elixir than deadly poison. However, neither the FDA nor Health Canada have shown any signs of conducting their own studies or of funding peer reviews. In a recent series on raw milk, CTV interviewed Mark McAfee, creator of the first international safety standards for raw milk. He claims that raw milk is unlikely to ever get studied in North America because there is a lack of a financial incentive here and because the health agencies do not assign a value to food for healing or medicinal purposes.
If raw milk has been illegal to sell in BC since 1991 how are there over 300 families getting raw milk as part of the Home on the Range cooperative? Rather than buying the milk, a person becomes an owner in the herd with a financial investment in the cows. This money goes toward buying, feeding, housing, and maintaining the herd and the milking operations and supporting a farmer to oversee the process. The Home on the Range cooperative hires Alice Jongerden.
Ms. Jongerden grew up on a dairy and as an adult wanted to get raw milk for herself and her family. Even in her rural, Chilliwack setting, she couldn’t find a good source for raw milk. So, she decided to get a cow. “When I had too much milk for our family, and not wanting to waste a drop, I started sharing the cow with a couple other families.” It wasn’t long before people were contacting her, clamoring for access to the cowshare. “We were not planning or anticipating more that 2 cows…it just happened that way.”
Cowshares are not unusual. They exist wherever laws prohibit the sale of raw milk—throughout much of Canada and in the U.S. states where it is illegal. The idea of the cowshare is to circumvent restrictive laws around the sale of raw milk. The owners are, instead, simply drinking (or bathing in or feeding to their animals) the dividends of their investment.
When I visited the farm where the Home on the Range herd lives I was struck by just how bucolic it all is: cows standing in pastures munching on grass, a big red milking barn that handles just four cows at a time, milk that is served in real glass jars. Just down the road the other reality can also be seen: another barn, this one with concrete flooring and cows kept all day in pens and milking is done en masse….”