Why Oh Why Does Fraser Health Hate Raw Milk So?


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It was an interesting day at the courthouse today. Many of us got there late but it didn’t matter as there was some kind of a security alert going on and no one was in session.

Finally, around 11 am Fraser Health lawyer continued to cross examine Michael Schmidt (she began last Friday). She started with questioning him about his history as a raw milk advocate as well as about his dairy in Ontario and how that operation works. She then asked more specific questions as to the operation of Our Cows and how much a membership is.

Schmidt again stated that his association with Our Cows was as a consultant. Beech berated Schmidt on many occasions in the most spiteful and overbearing manner, insisting that Michael Schmidt was the owner of Our Cows. She brought up many articles posted on the Bovine, as well as a letter writen by Schmidt in which he referred to the cowshare as his.

Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt

Later the judge mentioned that he understood the difference between Schmidt taking ownership of the issue verses actually being the owner of the physical farm in BC.

After hearing Fraser Health lawyer badgering Michael Schmidt for over an hour mainly abut him being an owner of Our Cows as well as whether raw milk was the only ingredient in the cosmetic. I understood why Gordon Watson later stated he preferred not to take the stand. The Fraser Health lawyer likes to get rabid, Michael sure took a lot of flack for us Our Cows members for us this morning. I must say I was pretty glad I wasn’t the one sitting in that witness box. One interesting thing she kept insisting was that Michael Schmidt had never told Fraser Health that he was not the owner. Both Mr Shum and Mr Rice had stated in their testimonies that they had been given the corporate structure of Our Cows and CowShare BC (but they hadn’t bothered to actually look through it).

At some point the Judge got really pissed off and told Watson to sit down. It is still hard to tell what he (Judge Wong) thinks of it all, sometimes he seems like he will see it all with an open mind, sometimes I wonder if he will throw us a curve ball. He seems to be a guy who takes justice seriously and he really does seem to genuinely be appreciative of the fact that Gordon Watson is representing himself, so I find that to be a good sign.

Beech (Fraser Health) brought up the topic of Watson being seen publically drinking raw milk, which it turns out was raw milk brought in from Washington state so it had nothing to do with the cowshare. A question was also raised as to whether Watson was currently a member of Our Cows or not.

Beech was soon back to badgering Schmidt as to whether he is the owner of Our Cows or not. This all just seems rather nuts to all of us since it has been explained on many occasion that all of the members are the owners and Michael Schmidt is there as a consultant and liason for us and has no legal connection to the cows whatsoever.

As it turns out Fraser Health did nothing to look into the structure of Our Cows or Cowshare BC (which both Shum and Rice stated when they were on the stand) but simply jumped to the conclusion that since Schmidt and Watson were speaking as representatives of the members that they were the people in the manager or owner position.

Beech again brings up the Bovine website and refers to it many more times the rest of the afternoon and she seems very annoyed by many things stated on the website.

Gordon Watson
Gordon Watson

I personally missed the first day of the trial so I didnt get the first few statements about what this trial is all about so I have been feeling rather confused through the whole thing as to what the point of this all is. As I have talked to more and more members it seems, actually that is the common reaction among the members. None of this makes any sense. I constantly feel I am in a surreal world while at the courthouse.

The judge did state this afternoon at some point “The issue here is whether the injunction order has been intervened.” Or something to that effect. I guess the thing that keeps tripping me up is that I don’t really see why Michael Schmidt and Gordon Watson are the ones that Fraser Health thinks are the owners to be charged. I still haven’t seen anyone produce any proof that this could possible be the case. I guess they said they were and so Fraser Health acted on that without checking the details. But the fact is the true owners of the cows are all of us members so if they are putting those two under contempt they should be putting us all under. No, wait. Actually Michael shouldn’t have anything as he actually isn’t a member of Our Cows and has absolutely no ownership whatsoever.

It is all rather mind-boggling — and pointless I might add. A huge waste of time and resources and these two Fraser Health executives think they are doing their jobs, protecting public health. Putting hundreds of thousands of dollars to good use trying to shut down a small-scale local artisan dairy that prides itself in incredibly healthy and happy cows.

On a last minute note, a couple interesting things the Fraser Health lawyer did do was at some point she did say that she understood you couldn’t just stop milking a cow–that that would be cruelty–but she declared the milk should have just been thrown away in that case. She said this several times.

She also at one point while reading from an affidavit, read out “cases of food-poisoning have increased due to raw milk consumption” (or something to that effect). She immediately burst into laughter (a shock to all of us as she has been so grumpy and troll-like the whole time) and re-read the passage correctly “cases of food-poisoning have not increased…” She then muttered to herself “freudian slip”….

So of course that got me thinking “why is that a freudian slip?” Of course it would be because secretly Fraser Health would like nothing more than a food-poisoning incident (the bigger and more people killed the better) in connection with raw milk, so that all this nonsense about humans consuming raw milk can be put to rest for good….

What a sad state of affairs all these court cases, politicking and nit-picking, obsessie laws around what we can put into our bodies of our own free will, have brought us to. In the twisted reasoning of such corporate executive types such as Mr. Shum and Mr. Rice, in their minds they are eagerly waiting, hoping and even dreaming of a devestating food poisoning episode in order to bring down their hammer of hyper-hygiene. They love the numbers, the statistics. It doesn’t matter to them whose family member it is who dies.

Following this line of reasoning, it is clear why Fraser Health prefered to do things in such an underhanded manner. They had and have absolutely no interest in trying to work with people who have come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and have a strong tradition of close contact with their foodwebs. I myself am a recent immigrant to BC who has previously relied on raw milk because of a severe digestive compromise after contracting typhoid in SE Asia. I will most likely have to move if Canada, unlike every other country in the world, cannot find a way to operate certified raw dairies.


Canada, and in particular Vancouver, professes to be a global leader in sustainable futures and green cities. It constantly amazes me that in this innovative atmosphere the health system is operating under such outdated ideologies. Nearly every week I see more articles appearing in National Geographic, American Scientist, local newspapers and more about the revolutionary findings of the amazing benefits of probiotics and of the dangers of this hyper-sanitation war on microbes (with antibiotics in particular). If Fraser Health really is a world leader in public health, why are they investing so much time and money in this outdated and clearly harmful mindset. Our public health officials should instead be putting a fraction of this money into taking some continuing education courses and staying up to date with cutting edge health breakthroughs.

It is wonderful though, to be able to meet more and more of the cowshare members. Last night on my way home I was crossing a street and one of the ladies who was conducting traffic suddenly called out to me “How was the court case today? I couldn’t make it cuz I had to work!” Raw milk lovers are coming out of the woodworks!

I think the judge is a fair fellow who is gonna give us a break but, who knows what tomorrow will bring. We will have the closing statements tomorrow. Both Watson and Gratyl said their statements will be very short. So we will keep you posted as to what happens.

If anyone else has other details they’d like to add, that would be great. Also, since I wasn’t there the first day if anyone has notes of that first day I’d love to have a copy or perhaps you could write up your perspective for all of us.

DONATE to the Raw Milk Legal Defense Fund, fighting for raw milk access for all families across British Columbia and Canada


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jill Winstanley

    Thanks so much for these updates! They have been forwarded on to my cowshare members here in Sooke, B.C., across the water. It is hard to be able to get there due to work and committments, but we stand behind Home on The Range 100%.
    I hope to meet many more raw milk advocates at the symposium!!
    Cheers and thank you for being committed to your farmer.
    For the Love of good whole healthy food,

  2. Vreni

    Thanks for keeping us posted. Been thinking of you all and am so grateful to Michael and Gordon for taking the hits for us. Hopefully the fact that this is a private dairy where none of the milk goes into public commerce, and the fact that one is able to go to Washington State and bring raw milk over the border without any problem at all will be proof enough that the issue is not public health.

  3. Heather

    Thanks so much for the update!

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