Raw milk lovers won’t be cowed

From Kevin Brooker, in the Calgary Herald:

Ontario raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt at last week's "Milk and Cookies" protest at FDA headquarters in Maryland. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Hartke.

“I don’t know about you, but lately, I’ve been getting a powerful thirst for a nice, cold glass of farm-fresh milk.

You’re a news reader, though, so you might only know that product by what amounts to a dirty word on the lips of a large class of bureaucrats in Canada and the U.S.: raw milk.

As a city mouse, I’ve never had the pleasure that farm folk have been praising for centuries – moo juice straight from the cow, albeit cooled and filtered. They speak rapturously about its flavour and texture, and their sense that it forms a clearly beneficial foundation to their nutritional life.

Heck, yeah, I want some of that.

Alas, since only 1991, the government of Canada says I may not purchase such a product. In their vast scientific wisdom, they decided that a practice as old as history has no place in the bright tomorrow of irradiated foods and patentable, genetically modified plants and animals.

Like most urbanites who will never touch a cow’s teat, I failed to notice the initial banning. It’s only been over the past few years that I’ve come to understand the well-intentioned folly that it has become, thanks to people like Michael Schmidt, the Newmarket, Ont., farmer who is bravely fighting to restore sanity in the dairy chain.

Schmidt, sometimes called the Milk Warrior, used to sell the good stuff from his heritage farm, and persisted in doing so in defiance of the raw milk ban. In 2006, 20 police officers raided the farm and slapped him with an equal number of charges.

Though eventually acquitted, the Ontario government appealed and, in September, the acquittals were overturned. On Sept. 29, Schmidt began a hunger strike, vowing to stay on it until he could have a faceto-face meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty.

This is dramatic, to say the least, and surely a measure of his conviction. But he’s not alone out there in the realm of civil disobedience. Perhaps you read last week of the self-described “caravan of criminal mothers” who transported fresh milk across state lines and drank it defiantly in front of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Maryland. Though there were no arrests, it did bring attention to the impetus for their protest: the predawn raid on the tiny dairy farm of an Amish man in Pennsylvania, where they had previously bought their milk.

It is vital to note that neither that product, nor Schmidt’s, has ever been found contaminated. That is the principal reason, of course, why the Canadian government decreed that the high-heat process of pasteurization is a requisite to milk consumption. But these farmers insist, and it seems sensible, that on their small-scale operations, they practise a form of grass-fed, drug-free husbandry which, combined with obsessive cleanliness, renders contamination highly unlikely.

In short, they claim that the matter could be dealt with not with a ban, but with a sticker reminding consumers of potential risks, and letting them decide for themselves what they will ingest. This is exactly how it’s done across Europe and in some states, where it is correctly understood that routine food safety measures will continue, and that there is a powerful commercial disincentive to poisoning consumers.

Meanwhile, there is a supreme irony in that it is not illegal to drink raw milk in Canada, only to sell it….”

Read it all in the Calgary Herald.


Filed under News

2 responses to “Raw milk lovers won’t be cowed

  1. I recall that there used to be some common wisdom that country kids were well known to be much more healthy and robust than their city cousins.

    The farm fresh milk and healthier life style were then known as the reason for this, however over time as city folk continued to drink the faux-milk and become sicker that wisdom has faded from memory.

  2. Marietta Pellicano

    How right you are Rick Adam…because the ‘sicker’ people become the less ability they have for independent thought! Common sense and common wisdom resides in healthy bodies and minds. When we function at less than full healthy capacity we are just like other livestock that are ‘kept’ rather than live in freedom with the power to think, truly think for ourselves. I find it incredible that whole North American societies/communities made up of hundred of thousands individuals have lost the capacity for the intuitive power of self preservation, leave alone the desire to take responsibility for their own health (what they put on their dinner plates). In fact, they don’t even make the connection between their dinner plates and health!

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