Northern Health tries to shut down Hunny-Do Ranch raw milk cowshare near Prince George, British Columbia

We heard about this story from Gordon Watson. Here’s what he said: “Lesley McConnachie is the agister for a cowshare in Hixon, [which is in northern] British Columbia.  This weekend she got some good coverage in the Prince George Citizen newspaper.”  From the “Carpe Diem Acreage” blog in Northern British Columbia:

Hunny Do Ranch cowshare is the latest target of B.C. regulators, in this case Northern Health

“I had planned on a completely different blog post for today; that was until I saw this morning’s local newspaper with the following story. I will let you read it first and I’ll put in my 2 cents worth after….

Milk battle on between owners, Northern Health
October 22, 2010, Bernice Trick, [Prince George] Citizen staffA group of milk-cow owners in Hixon is fighting Northern Health for the right to consume the milk they produce, despite it being unpasteurized. 

Lesley McConnachie, owner of Hunny Do Ranch, where the milking cows are kept and cared for said, “Northern Health has ordered the members of the group to cease and desist the practice of packaging and distributing the raw milk to the members.”

McConnachie has letters from George Abbot, when he was minister of health services, and an official in the Attorney General’s department, saying the province’s Milk Industry Act does not prevent consumption of milk by owners of cows, or anyone who has direct care and control of a milk cow.

“When we showed the letters to Northern Health, they just said “Those people are not our boss.”

“In the two years we’ve been doing this, no one (in the co-operative) has become sick, and besides that, it’s not exactly a spreadable disease,” said McConnachie, who sees Northern Health officials “as big bullies”.

Gred Thibault, NH manager of public health protection, showed much concern for the Hixon people who are consuming raw milk.

“We know the risk of unpasteurized milk to contain illness-casuing bacteria is very high,” said Thibault, citing food poisoning and salmonella as common illnesses caused by raw milk.

“In farm-animal environment, you’ll also find ecoli, parasites and crytoporidium that cause people to become very ill, ususally with cramps and diarrhea,” said Thibault, adding those who seem to at most risk are young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

“It’s true that not every squirt of milk will be contaminated, but as a health inspector for 24 years, I can pretty well guarantee if you go from drinking store-bought milk to raw farm milk, you will become severely ill within a month to three months.

“I’ve got the follow-up data from my field experience that shows individuals drinking raw milk will become sick.

“They may call it the flu or something else, but I’ve been able to trace it back in many, many cases to unpasteurized milk.

Recognizing the problem, in the early ’90s the federal goverment brought in legislation requiring pasteurization of all milk products.”

He added that “studies show there is no added benefit for pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, but the potential for illness is greatly increased with unpasteurized milk.”

He says the Hixon group is good at creating loopholes to continue marketing milk products like butter, and suffice to say that an inspection visit to the ranch milking barn did not score well with NH environment officials.

McConnachie is baffled why the officials care if members consume milk from their own cows.

“It’s pretty well known that people consume what they want – alcohol, tobacco, raw sushi, spinach – and nobody says a word about that. I just want Northern Health to leave our members alone,” said McConnachie.

“This all started with one cow, and it just grew from there. Today we have eight milking cows,” said McConnachie who provides the pasture for grazing, and is ultimately responsible for the milking, distribution and daily care of the animals.

But the share mambers are in contact with the ranch and their own cows, often helping with the feeding, watering and the clean up, said McConnachie.

Now for my comments:

First off I want to say that we are not part of the Hunny Do Ranch cowshare members, nor do we currently drink raw milk, though we did investigate the program about a year ago and completely agree with the health benefits of drinking raw milk.. Both husband and I grew up in environments in which we did drink raw cow or goats milk at various times during our childhood and teenage years.

We as individuals need to begin thinking for ourselves, and not believe everything presented by the various milk marketing boards and milk producer associations (remember this is a business and no one wants to lose potential revenue). They are taking away our individual choices and freedoms by outlawing the sale of raw milk….”

Read the whole story on Carpe Diem Acreage blog.

Getting ready to take part in the fall fair parade in Hixon, B.C. Photo via Hunny Do Ranch website.

Hunny Do Ranch website (where the pictures are from)


Filed under News

4 responses to “Northern Health tries to shut down Hunny-Do Ranch raw milk cowshare near Prince George, British Columbia

  1. Bernie

    Severely ill after one to three months when one switches from store bought to fresh milk..that’s laughable! In May of 2010 we switched from store bought to fresh Jersey milk. We have two Jersey’s we hand milk them in an old barn, we make butter, ice cream, cheese and so forth and neither one of us has gotten severely ill or ill at all 6 months time.

  2. The man who does not learn is dark, like one walking in the night

  3. Do I have to get a cow to get involved, or what is the needed, I’ve been looking for a place to get 1 gallon of unpasterized milk, full, every two weeks, straight, no cream skimmed off the top… Since cows produce more than I need, guess I’m looking for a provider.

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