October 12, 2011
- Canadian Farmer and Eight Others on Hunger Strike over Raw Milk: Canadian farmer Michael Schmidt, whose farm has twice been the subject of armed raids (in 1994 and 2006), was convicted by Ontario Justice Peter Tetley on September 28th of “selling and distributing raw milk and raw-milk products.” So, for the second time in five years, Schmidt has gone on a Hunger Strike for Responsible Food Freedom, and has been joined by eight others in Canada and the United States. As of October 11th, he has given up all food (at first he was still drinking raw milk once a day) and is drinking only water. Two of those joining him are Wisconsin’s own Vernon Herschberger and Max Kane. His demands?
I respectfully ask that the Ontario and BC governments agree to a constructive dialogue on how we can provide a framework to enable people to make real choices about their food and what they eat, beginning with raw milk and the implementation of a framework that grants legal standing for cow share operations in Ontario and BC. This objective also includes the end of the current prosecutions of cow shares which meet proper production standards.
A large group in Toronto has joined Schmidt on a rotational fast in support of and respect for his fight.
- Ireland to Ban Raw Milk “As Soon As Possible”: The Irish Times wrote (10/5/11) that Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has promised to ban raw milk “as soon as possible.” Raw milk producers have been fighting to keep their right to sell raw milk to customers. The ban would not apply to milk to be made into cheese or not intended for sale. The Campaign for Raw Milk has called the proposed ban a “missed business opportunity.”
- Michael Pollan Addresses Raw Milk: Pollan wrote in the Sunday New York Times (10/2/11):
Why is the government putting its resources into shutting down raw-milk producers, a teeny-tiny “industry,” when there are many more serious threats to food safety on factory farms? (In fact the overwhelming majority of illnesses tied to milk and cheese come from pasteurized products.) While Amish dairymen are being raided by the F.D.A., Jack DeCoster, the notorious Iowa egg producer whose filthy, salmonella-infected eggs were linked to an outbreak that sickened more than 1,500 people last year, received a mild warning letter from the F.D.A. What is going on here? Sounds like political theater to me.
- Chicago Sun-Times Comes Down on the Side of Tested, Legal Raw Milk: Phil Lempert writes (9/20) that “pasteurization partially sterilizes raw foods during a heating process that is designed to destroy all bacteria, good and bad. Along with partial sterility, pasteurized products have a much longer shelf life. . . . If raw milk is to make it mainstream, or at least be legalized for retail sale in more states, there must be a standard, mandatory safety and inspection process as well as best practices regarding temperature during storage, transport and retail, and general handling practices. Consumers also will need to be educated about the pros and cons before buying raw milk products.” The Food Rights Network welcomes greater transparency and consumer education, but urges caution with regard to one-size-fits-all mandatory regulation.
- European GABRIELA Study Finds Children who Drink Raw Milk Less Likely to Develop Asthma Than Pasteurized Milk Drinkers: Reuters reports (9/13) that “researchers believe certain milk proteins that are destroyed by heat could be helpful to children’s developing immune systems. . . . Compared with kids who only drank store-bought milk, those who drank raw milk had a 41-percent reduction in their odds of developing asthma. They were also only about half as likely to develop hay fever — even after accounting for other factors that might be relevant.
On the other hand, those who drank boiled farm milk had no less asthma than those who drank store milk. The protective effect was linked to so-called whey proteins in the milk, such as BSA and alpha-lactalbumin.”
- Grist Article Calls for Relocalization of Dairy Production: Kristin Wartman writes (9/12/11) about the difference between today’s milk and our grandparents’, commenting that “most of the milk sold today has been altered, stripped, and reconstituted” and quoting John Bunting, Nina Planck and Mark McAfee on this over-processing and the alternative:
So how can Americans gain access to real, unadulterated milk? This would require a re-localization of dairy production, which would mean more dairy farmers. “Look,” Bunting says, “if you don’t want industrial processes, then we need more people producing food.” Of course, in order to make that work, we’ll also need a much more robust support system for dairy farmers, and a larger base of consumers willing to pay more for milk produced on a smaller scale.
- Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity President Piero Sardo Waxes Poetic About The Importance of Raw Milk Cheese: Sardo writes (9/8), in a beautiful editorial on the Slow Food International website, compares pasteurized milk to moving into a thriving, pristine forest and killing all the wildlife so that “the forest is dead, silent and boring. In the long term it couldn’t even survive.” When you pasteurize milk, he says, “you kill everything, turning something living and vital into an inert, dead substance. . . . Outside the metaphor, in real life, these safe cheeses no longer taste of anything, and are all the same from Singapore to South Africa. They’re ready for a global market that no longer wants to take the trouble to differentiate, to understand, to listen to the stories that real cheeses can tell. As the Roman historian Tacitus would say, they have created a desert and called it food safety.”