I grew up in Toronto and had worked as an activist there since 1983. So I was personally touched by the Milk War Movie and Michael Schmidt’s humanitarian mission . So I would not call myself an “objective viewer ” .
At an early age Michael Schmidt , who grew up in post-war Germany, had to face its collective guilt and reflections about it, and felt an early calling to “stand for principles ” and to “fight for the sacred” in life. He knew he had some work to do in the “realm of basic principles” although he did not specifically know what it was.
A little background is provided about Raw Milk and the law . 700 people died of TB in Canada between 1910 and 1938. This was (supposedly ) blamed on Raw Milk . In response , the Ontario government was the first province to pass laws about milk pasteurization standards. Gradually other provinces followed suit until finally in 1991 it became FEDERAL LAW that all milk for sale in Canada had to be pasteurized.
Next scenes are juxtaposed between Michael Schmidt’s Biodynamic Farm in Glencoltion , Ontario and a Modern Conventional Ontario Dairy Operation that works within the official Dairy Marketing Board quota system.
Mike’s farm is described as a closed and complete eco system. A timeless shot of Michael is shown filling the horn of cow with manure and burying it for one year. After one year it becomes “sweet” , and perhaps full of the local land’s vital energy, so Michael pours it into a barrel of well water and begins this stirring process for one hour. Initially he stirs it in one direction ,symbolizing order, until the vortex goes almost to the bottom. Then abruptly he switches directions, symbolizing chaos, and , so the theory goes, the biodynamically charged substances release their full E into the water . This water is used to further potentize water which will be used in his garden and to water the grasslands for the cow feeding as well. This process activates the microorganisms in the land. In addition, Michael uses astronomy and astrology linked with biodynamic theory to determine when and how to plant the garden. He explains that the regions of the zodiac influence different parts of the plant .
Michael and his wife , Elisa Vonder Hout ,discuss the age old debate triggered by the work of Pasteur. The truth is that all pathogens are already inside all of us. But they are only activated through stress. Pushing a cow to overproduce milk IS stressful and will increase the likelihood of infection in the cows teats and bacteria in the milk. Living in a confined and unnatural environment and being feed man-made synthetic food, drugs and vitamins also contributes to the cow’s stress.
We are told that dairy is a $12 billion annual business . Comparatively speaking , Mike Schmidt’s cooperative 30 cow operation is seen to be only a tiny “milk drop” in the bucket .
We are also taken inside a modern dairy operation with 400 cows for contrast and emphasis. We see all the marvellous technology that is now used to monitor the cows. However the punch line occurs when the commercial scale Ontario dairy farmer interviewed ends his interview with the fact that despite all the “reasons ” he gave for pasteurization and the logic of doing a dairy “business” , on a PERSONAL level he and his family still always PRIVATELY drink their milk RAW and unpasteurized !!!
Next we are guided through the court case triggered by the 2006 SWAT style raid on Mike’s farm by 24 armed officers from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources . The amazing point to me was that , after accumulating $80 000 in legal expenses, Michael decided to be his own lawyer . He successful argued his case against 6 or 8 highly paid government and dairy marketing board lawyers and eventually won the court case. There is lots of drama in the build up to the court case and , of course, Mike does many creative activist kind of things to raise the profile of his cause with the media and public.
Jamie Kennedy, Toronto chef, who is pictured at various fundraisers with Michael at his restaurant says ” Michael’s work is about the pursuit of excellence and to build relations with others with a similar intent in mind . It is an honour to know Michael and to support him in his cause ! ”
In the initial reading of the final court decision , the Ontario judge refused to rule on the ‘Charter of Rights ‘ infringement claim. At first it looked like Michael would lose the case .
His ruling was over 40 pages and took over 3 hours to read. But in the end , he ruled that “Schmidt’s milk was NOT for public sale” and so the Ontario consumer protection act could not apply to something that was never “for sale ” in the first place ! “It is determined that Michael Schmidt is NOT GUILTY of all 20 charges. The case is dismissed” !
This documentary will be of great value not only to the public but as educational material in various schools and universities. At the college level , it provides invaluable insight , and will do so for years to come whether your field of specialization is law , agriculture, sociology, ethics , biology , nutrition and even philosophy !!!!
Lastly on a general activist note, I want to end with Michael’s thoughts that he “could not ever conform to the status quo (with regard to terminating the practice of coop raw dairy farming but also in general ) BECAUSE IT WAS NOT RIGHT IN PRINCIPLE !!!
He mentioned how he drew inspiration from the life of Martin Luther King and Gandhi. He emphasized the need for POSITIVE ACTIVISM and PROACTIVE resistance to the goverment’s obstinacy and bullying .
It is indeed special that we have a visionary of Gandhian proportions in the form of a humble dairy farmer named Michael Schmidt. All I can say to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is that “YOU ARE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY . PLEASE STOP HARASSING THIS GENTLEMAN ” and ,instead, take some time to listen to what he has to stay and maybe you will learn something in that process . Please stop shooting the messenger ! We may be facing shortages of food stocks due to earth changes , population increase and freak weather so now is the time to look outside of the box of conventional farming methods . We need to be proactive about how we are going to handle food security in the future.
Must it always be Canada’s fate to ostracize and bankrupt the visionary thinkers so that they feel compelled to move to greener pastures (no pun intended ) outside the country ? !!!
Great movie and a must watch for all activists, Canadian and Non-Canadians alike . In addition I recommend the movie to any bipeds on planet Gaia who happen to make a daily habit of consuming farmed food (so that means all of you !!! ) ….”