The right to decide what you can eat and drink seems a very basic human right. Yet, even that simple freedom can be trampled on. Take Michael Schmidt, for example. He is a biodynamic farmer with a master's degree in agriculture who has been an instrumental voice for the rights of farmers and consumers.
Over the last 17 years, Schmidt has tried to work with authorities to find solutions for providing raw milk legally to people in Canada. He says that informed consumers should have the right to drink clean raw milk. The Canadian government disagrees, so his farm was raided and his farm family terrorized — as if he had contraband. This happened despite the fact that nobody has ever gotten sick from drinking his milk. Similar situations have happened in the U.S. as well. I wonder if they sent SWAT teams to the farm that produced the cantaloupes that have made so many ill?
He was acquitted of all charges at first, but the province of Ontario decided to appeal the acquittal and Schmidt was then found guilty of 15 of the 19 charges. I find it ironic that in a world full of evil and injustice, so much attention is directed at consumers' food choices. Michael has since gone on a hunger fast, only asking that a constructive dialogue happen. He is now on his fourth week, and I want to see this man eating soon.
His requests are simple:
"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."
My family is mostly dairy-free because of intolerances, but even though the laws and regulations on dairy have little direct impact on my family, I am concerned with the implications this holds for our food freedom. You can personally weigh the evidence and decide that raw milk is not for you, but what about other food choices you hold dear? The more involved the government is in regulating what we can eat, the more I fear corporations influencing what is legal in both the USA and Canada.
I don’t want someone else to dictate what I can eat; do you? I support Michael not only because I think people should have free choice to drink pasteurized or raw milk, but also because I support food freedom.
But you can help. If you want to support Michael, there are several things you can do.
Contact the premier, Dalton McGuinty. Michael's only request in exchange for ending his hunger fast is to meet with him. The official contact form is here. You can also tweet him, or call him at (416) 325-1941. To fax, use this number: (416) 325-3745. To write him, send your concerns to the following: Premier Dalton McGuinty, Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
I feel that the fight for the right to drink raw milk is also a fight for food freedom. For that reason, I fully support Michael and hope you will too.
Photo of Michael Schmidt courtesy of Richard Chomko.