Do you believe in the healing powers of nature? Do you believe we have the right to choose what we put into our bodies?
Last week, raw food advocates celebrated a major victory here in Canada with the acquittal of Michael Schmidt, Ontario dairy farmer and milk co-op owner, who was charged with selling and distributing unpasteurized (raw) milk.
In Canada, it’s legal to consume raw milk. Basically, anyone who owns a cow has the choice whether or not to kill harmful bacteria (along with the beneficial micro-organisms and enzymes) through the pasteurization process before they drink it. You become an outlaw when you sell it to others for consumption.
The raw milk vs. pasteurized controversy rages but when you sift through the research, you’ll find there are benefits and risks to consuming both raw and pasteurized milk.
(Randolph Jonsson has created a well-written and thoroughly researched website dedicated to enlightening folks about raw milk. He proudly announces his passion for raw milk and yet manages to present the information in an objective and respectful manner.)
For the pro-choicers out there, Mr. Schmidt’s case is a legal loop hole gone right.
Art Hill, professor and chair of the University of Guelph’s Department of Food Science, said the ruling, which provides a legal way for Ontarians to consume raw milk and for farmers to sell their farm-fresh product, will likely prompt changes in the dairy industry.
“This ruling signals that it is time to create a system where the sale of raw milk is legalized, but controlled,” said Hill. “We have to work now at finding ways to make raw milk available as safely as we can.”
Hill noted the sale of raw milk is not uncommon in other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom. About half of U.S. states have legislation that allows consumers access to raw milk, either directly from farms or at grocery stores.
Mr. Schmidt fought the law and won because he runs a cow-share program which essentially entitles consumers part-ownership in the cows he raises and milks. The article says that current legislation fails to account for this instance; however, health ministries in Canada have said they may appeal the decision down the road.
Agencies like Health Canada are against legalizing the sale of raw milk because of the potential risks of food poisoning from pathogens like salmonella. Proponents say that not all raw milk is created equal; that in hygienic, knowledgeable farms, the risks are minimized and the health benefits (as well as the taste) are incomparable to processed milk.
Mr. Schmidt and his supporters were pleased with the court’s ruling. Not only did it save his farm and business, but according to the Ontario farmer, this win was for the freedom to choose what we consume. (Source: YouTube)
What do you think: Is this a step in the right direction? And, just for curiosity’s sake, do you drink raw milk?