A Canadian farmer has been found not guilty of 19 charges related to selling unpasteurized milk, according to the Canadian Press. (I wrote about this case back in May 2008.) Michael Schmidt’s farm was raided by two-dozen armed officers and government officials back in 2006:
The Durham, Ont., farmer argued the charges laid against him under the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act are unconstitutional and infringe on his rights and freedoms.
Schmidt operates a 150-cow raw milk co-operative venture, which allows members to own a portion of the cow to acquire raw milk.
“They are fully informed that the milk is not pasteurized,” Kowarsky said in his ruling, adding the milk is not marketed or sold for consumption to the general public but only to cow share members.
Kowarsky said his own research showed cow shares exist worldwide.
At trial, Schmidt argued that government officials and food scientists cannot guarantee the safety of any food, and suggested informed consumers should be able to buy raw milk if they so choose.
The case received a lot of attention in many food and health circles, and similar cases are pending in the U.S. The issue here is not whether all milk should be pasteurized — in fact, I’ve never heard any raw-dairy advocates or farmers promote that idea. Instead, this is an issue of consumers having the freedom to obtain food they believe makes them healthier, and farmers having the rights to provide it.