Monday, March 9, 2009

I just saw the film, Michael Schmidt: Organic Hero or Bioterrorist?

Hi all, About a week ago, I mentioned that I was going to attend a screening of the film, Michael Schmidt: Organic Hero or Bioterrorist? Well, I just did. Here's the deal: Michael Schmidt has been locking horns over raw milk with the Ontario provincial government since 1994. A lot of the story is described here. In Ontario, as in all of Canada and many states of the US, it is illegal to sell raw milk. In certain jurisdictions (Michigan for one), the legislature has gone so far as to make commerce in raw milk a felony. In places where selling raw milk is illegal, some raw milk producers skirt the law by selling partial ownership of cows to their customers, so that the milk they are delivering actually belongs to the recipient and is not being "sold" per se; in trial, courts' findings on the legality of this arrangement have varied. Michael Schmidt, a biodynamic dairy farmer in Ontario, believes that people should be able to choose what kind of food they consume. His opponents, including the Ontario government and the Canadian Dairy Commission, believe that government agencies and monopolistic trade guilds should be able to restrict what kinds of food are available to citizens. Because of his raw milk business, armed police raided his farm and seized much of his property, including filing cabinets, computers, and cheese-making equipment. Given that he did not resist their search and was willing to answer any questions they had, it is pretty clear that the seizure was intended as harassment. Since the raid, Michael Schmidt has been involved in a non-stop legal battle, including a 28-day hunger strike. This is a man who is udderly committed. New chapters of this story will be written in the next few weeks. Click here to see Michael Schmidt's website, or to donate to his legal defense fund.
(Let me take this moment to point out that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has been championing raw milk issues in the US for some time. I claim that Ron Paul is the only important US politician who appears completely consistent with his stated ideals. Ron Paul, I salute you, as I have many times before, even if I don't agree with you on everything. I wish more Republicans were like you.)


Sam White said...

Very happy to get this update. Thanks for summarizing in such a concise way! Did the movie talk at all about how our digestive system gets a bit dysfunctional from drinking raw milk?

BTW, in the book, Hope's Edge, on page 152, there is a great reference to what Berkana does!

Alex Lewin said...

Sam, in general raw milk should be more digestible than pasteurized milk, not less. Raw milk contains the enzymes necessary to digest milk; these enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, so if the drinker's body does not generate the enzymes on its own, digestive problems ensue from drinking pasteurized milk.

If you have reacted to raw milk while traveling, it probably has more to do with the unfamiliar bacteria in all the food and drink, and less to do with whether or not the milk is pasteurized…

My Year Without said...

About all I can say is that this is an interesting subject--and one I am not too familiar with. I am going to look into this film.

Also, I noticed your book club for this month "Sweetness and Power" and I will most definitely be looking at that, as well!

Alex Lewin said...

Dear MYW,

Raw milk is a fascinating subject. If you are interested in learning more about it, I recommend you take a look at David E. Gumpert's excellent book on the subject. I review it here:

I'm looking forward to reading Sweetness and Power. Let's compare notes in a month or so.