Vancouver Milk War Screening Rio Theatre

After looking forward to seeing Milk War for several weeks it was really exciting to have such a great turnout! The Rio Theatre was a really perfect place to have the event with a stage for the music as well as popcorn for the hungry.

Our wonderful organizer Noriko, kicked off the event with contagious enthusiasm. As people got settled in, Benjamin Keith pulled out his guitar and started entertaining us. It turns out our scheduled performer David Blair couldn’t make it so Keith had been called in last minute to fill in. We appreciated that and enjoyed his music (cd’s available here). He got a bit of a shock at one point when he asked the crowd how many people owned a cow and nearly everyone put their hand up! Goes to show you how difficult it is for city people to have access to fresh milk.

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Then we were on to the long awaited film. You could feel the relief in the theatre when the film finally started playing! Milk War started off with an introduction to Michael Schmidt from when he was very young in Germany and the memory he has of his fierce and fearless mother chasing off a gang of soldiers. Growing up in that environment gave Michael a certain distrust of government and institutions of control. As the movie goes on to show, Michael Schmidt is a man of many interests and skills, he is not only a biodynamic farmer, but an orchestra conductor and practically a lawyer at this point.

I remember November 2006 when Michael’s Glencolton farm was raided. When I left the US in fear of the food in 1999 I was sure I wasn’t coming back. We had just been back for a couple months and I was pretty terrified of what I was eating. Seeing men with guns carrying away fresh biodynamic raw milk in Ontario (on youtube) was not helping my condition! At the time I had no idea that we would be moving to Vancouver in a few years, and be watching the same footage to raise funds for our cowshare’s legal battle.

The film does a really good job of asking hard questions and getting both sides of the story. (Granted I am biased myself). I liked that it pointed out how important it is to be aware that raw milk is a living substance and needs to be treated with respect. I studied biodynamic agriculture in New Zealand, so it was also very interesting to see the beautiful wooden barrel that Michael uses to make the farm’s biodynamic preparations. I really enjoyed his demonstration of how chaos and then order are rythmically intertwined. Although some of the people who I invited were rather confused by the cow horn and why it was stuffed with manure and buried!

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It is always nice to watch a film like that with a group of people who are interested. It was great to hear the chuckles and laughter when the Health representative who was being interviewed said that people who drink raw milk have a natural immunity. A documentary like this is really a great education tool, so it was great at the end, during the question and answer section with Declan O’Driscoll and Alice Jongerden that someone asked where we can get ahold of this film. It is being screened at FLIKS festival in Nelson B.C. Feb. 11, 12, and can also be watched on iChannel (Intelligent Television).

After the film it was great to have Alice Jongerden there telling us exactly how our cowshare got started–with her just wanting good fresh milk for her family–to how that snowballed to the 450 members we have today. (With more on the waiting list) There is definitely consumer demand here! Wake up Canada! She moved on to explaining the legal battle that our cowshare is facing, and how important it is for us to change these laws now. Not being able to decide what to put in our own bodies violates a very intimate act. This battle is about much more than raw milk and a handful of ‘renegade’ farmers. Not only is it about our choice, but it is about our relationship with our environment, with the other species that co-exist with us–the cows, the grass, the micro-organisms and the earth.

After the silent auction and raffle, Declan O’Driscoll joined Alice on the stage for more questions and answers and we got some of the history of the pasteurization laws. There were still people eagerly asking questions when we had to clear the theatre for the next group. I had a chance to talk to a few of the other cowshare members. I have been asking everyone to please send me their experiences around raw milk and why they decided to seek out raw milk!

As we finally left the theatre we ran into Vikram Vij! I have been hearing about this amazing chef since I arrived in Vancouver because of my Aunt, so I was pretty excited. We got the low-down on his new Cambie location. I hope we see more chefs joining our cowshare. It is really important to have Vancouver’s chefs supporting the real food movement and local farms.

For more information about the movie Milk War check out some of these links:

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Richard

    The Vancouver premiere of this movie is getting more coverage in the blogs than the Toronto premiere ever did.

    Nice review, Hella!

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