Karen and I had an unusual and enjoyable night out last night. We attended the pre-festival screening of Michael Schmidt: Bioterrorist or Organic Hero? This documentary was the first kick at the film can for this year’s Film Festival in Guelph which officially starts Friday, November 7th.
I had heard Norman Lofts, the director of the documentary, interviewed on CBC radio and when I saw that the film was part of the film festival pre-screenings I was anxious to go. I met Sandra of Fourfold Farms at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and she drew me a map to the farm.
The venue was the most unusual part of the evening as it was in a barn at Fourfold Farm with hay and wooden planks for seating. There was live music ahead of the movie and children were everywhere dancing or leaping from bail to bail. I found it an intimate and fun experience and Sandra and Mark were generous hosts.
I thought the film laid out the struggle of Michael Schmidt very clearly and explained many of the arguments for both sides of the raw milk debate. My feeling is that this is a matter of choice and that the government should allow consumers to decide what kind of milk they wish to purchase. The government point of view seems to be that milk is a hazardous substance and should be treated as much. But many other raw animal products can pose equal or even more risk to consumer health and these are still allowed to be sold raw (like meat, fish and eggs). Canada is the only G8 country that bans the sale of raw milk and the question boils down to why. Pasteurization may have been a means to ensure public safety decades ago but it is only one way. I think the real reason Schmidt is being victimized for selling his shares of co-op milk and cheese is because he has successfully affronted the powerful Milk Board monopoly who don’t want to see other farms following in his lead.
I think they’re too late.
I’m not a milk drinker, personally. But I am a butter and cheese eater and I would very much prefer the type of artisanal farm variety that exists in Europe to what we have. That’s why I support Michael Schmidt. I want to see greater variety and the better cheeses and other dairy products that I think will come from the greater competition in a much less closed dairy markeveryt.
It was a pleasure to see the man, himself, take questions after the screening. He is quite the character and seems quite willing to sacrifice his freedom to promote change in the antiquated laws and regulations in Ontario and Canada.
Learn more about Michael Schmidt on the Bovine blog, which is where you can truly say ‘You’ve heard it through the Bovine’ or at his farm’s website: Glencolton Farms. I don’t agree with everything the Bovine blog has to say about Pasteur (some of it is just bad biology) but following the information on Schmidt, himself, is interesting.
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