Raw milk debate not so black and white — Elisa Vander Hout in the Sun Times

From Elisa Vander Hout in the Owen Sound Sun Times:

Michael and his wife Elisa in Italy a few years ago at a Slow Foods Film Festival where a film about Michael and raw milk in Canada was premiering. Thanks to Michael for the photo.


This letter is in response to the letter written by Dr. James Dykeman published Oct. 21.

I completed a bachelor of science and agriculture degree at the University of Guelph with a major in animal science in which I focused on dairy nutrition as I believe that anything can be achieved through proper nutrition where feed is coming from healthy soil.

As a veterinarian, I do believe that Dr. Dykeman would know more about the origins of dangerous bacteria than simply that they exist.

Mr. Schmidt’s barn may be clean, but if you went in a not so clean barn where the cows were fed proper feed created by nature for a ruminant animal to digest, then the presence of con-t aminants would still not be there.

For instance, I challenge Dr. Dykeman to take a fecal sample of a cow which is only eating grass. Find E. coli 0157? I don’t think so. E. coli 0157 and other dangerous pathogens found in milk are only created through improper feeding of livestock and improper agricultural practices that do not honour soil biology and animal behaviour. Granted, the cattle today are bred in a way that will make it difficult for a farmer to eliminate small grains and corn in the diet simply by the energy demands through breeding which are put on the cows for such large production demands.

Small grains, especially corn, contain large amounts of starch (energy) required by the cow’s body to produce the amount of milk its genetics have demanded from it.

Now, if you take a heritage breed that has not been genetically “improved” and keep them on a diet that is grass and grass/hay-based, you can bet your life (and people who drink this milk do!) that the life threatening and dangerous contaminants simply will not be found.

It is a good thing that Health Canada opposes the sale of raw milk.

In present day agricultural practices, most milk is not fit for human consumption in its raw state.

That is why Health Canada and Agriculture Canada should look seriously into protecting innocent consumers who know nothing about farming in order to be sure that milk offered in the raw state is only from farms where appropriate agricultural practices and animal husbandry and feeding are taken seriously.

Rather than pushing the cows to produce mass quantities of milk on high grain diets that most often contain corn and soybeans, raw milk producers need to work with nature and offer milk from cows who produce small amounts of milk (by today’s dairy standards) and are fed the right kind of feed, i.e., that which the cow was designed by nature to digest, grass and hay.

Unless we take this issue of raw milk very seriously, and deal with it in an intelligent, progressive manner, we will continue to see the raw milk of many dairy farmers being consumed across the country that is putting the consumer at risk simply because of how these cows are fed.

I invite health officials to look seriously at co-creating suitable criteria for safe raw milk production.

We need to get this under control because there are too many farmers serving raw milk out of their bulk tanks without it being known whether or not contaminants exist in their dairy barns.

Let’s find our ideal and strive towards that as a model for farmers who would like to produce raw milk for human consumption.

Mr. Schmidt’s dairy barn is an excellent place to begin acquiring the necessary research data. I believe he has offered this service of co-operation to the government back in 1997 and as far as I know that offer still stands.

Raw milk should never be available to the public at large but only to informed people who know to look for proper animal husbandry and some kind of seal of approval in cooperation with existing agencies responsible for the safety of milk.

Elisa Vander Hout, B. Sc. (Agr)



Filed under News

4 responses to “Raw milk debate not so black and white — Elisa Vander Hout in the Sun Times

  1. Sib

    Elisa, that is a brilliant piece of writing and explains fully the issue at hand. There is such a huge educational piece missing from this debate and thankfully you’ve brought some science and common sense to the discussion. The government, their agencies, the DFO, the media, and the public need to know the real difference between cows that are raised on a small biodynamic farm and are fed grass and hay and whose milk is for direct human consumption versus and industrial high-production cows fed corn and soy whose milk is destined for pasteurization. We all have to make it clear when talking to people about raw milk that there are TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF RAW MILK. One is natural and healthy, the other is not. Nowhere in the media do I ever see this distinction made, and it is the real crux of the matter. Thank you for enlightening everyone.

  2. Flawlessly on point. The most considered and thoughtful justification for the platform of dialogue yet. Let there be an Ontario Legislative Raw Milk Board on which you should sit!

  3. Raoul

    Here’s a big secret : If we can perfect raising healthy cows on wild grasses and life-giving raw milk , then more healthy humans will be the inevitable result. Not just from drinking the raw milk but also from the understanding that comes from living harmony with nature using biodynamic and permaculture methods.
    This information is revolutionary in its positive implications for humanity, both in terms of health and healing, and also in reducing a society’s health care costs .

    Why isn’t one of the most powerful and life-giving substances on earth seen as a saviour and liberator of mankind instead of a “threat ” ?

  4. Rebecca Shannon-Sharpe

    I conclude from this articulate,fact based,illuminating article that this is not an arena that “Agro-business” can effectively dominate due to their reliance on chemical input & the commodification of the Dairy Unit(Cow).It would appear that their power of Lobby would dictate what we,the Citizen & Voter,can access,unless we own a farm,in which case,we are legally permitted ingestion.It is perplexing to me that Government has no interest in the voices of the voters.
    Gentlemen,this is not heroin,this is Milk.My body produced it when I had a child.Will Breast Milk be on this list as well?Every food product is subject to governance,yet unproven GMOs are foisted upon us to protect the Companies that use this “product”,& we are not ALLOWED to know it is in our food.Raw milk is vetted & consumed worldwide,yet Canadians are denied the right to access it.The loudest Lobby in the anti-raw milk camp appears to be the Dairy Board,which was created to help the Farmer,not to become an Elitist Corporate Entity.
    We are adults,we have the right to choose.The people elected seem to be oblivious to our wishes.Perhaps we the Electorate need to employ a Professional Lobbyist.George Orwell has turned out to be a Prophet,not a Novelist.

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