Fresh Milk Food Politics Overview

milk panel

Well it has been a long and talkative day for us raw milk lovers here in BC so I will try to just do a quick summary of the speakers and some of my favorite quotes from each of them for the folks who were unable to attend the Fresh Milk Food Politics conference today. I have uploaded a bunch of photos from the conference to flickr here. The lighting was a bit dim so some of them didn’t come out that well, but please feel free to use the images as you would like.

Jackie Ingram our MC got us right down to business, reminding us that Canada is the only G-8 country that cannot figure out how to incorporate certified raw milk dairies (although they used to) and has simply banned it.

alice jongerdenAlice Jongerden started off the day with a personal discussion of the obstacles to farming in North America, reminiscing about Maple, the cow that gave so much milk that she had to share her with her neighbor, which eventually led to more and more friends requesting to join in her cowshare. And of course I really appreciated her comment: “You can’t park a cow on your balcony.” Because we live in an apartment with a very narrow balcony which I often do fantasize about having a goat living on. From there Alice got into the statistics of the dwindling numbers of farmers in North America today and wrapped up her speach with her vision of a brighter future with micro-dairies springing up across Canada.

Jason Gratl our lawyer spoke next and I was very interested to hear what he has to say. I hadn’t realized that he was renowned in Canada for his defence of free expression. He introduced himself with a discussion of truth:

“Truth is something that is difficult to supress …. Once truth is revealed it is then difficult to ignore it.”

He mentioned that he originally got involved in this case because of his previous work fighting for our rights to access natural health supplements, which led him to an understanding of the importance for us all to have a right to control our own nutritional choices and what goes into our own bodies.

I really appreciated what Gratl said about the importance of everyone having access to a “basket of goods” which would provide a nutritional foundation for good health which would include such things as a decent amount of good qualitly protein, fresh vegetables and good pure water. These basic life necessities should be available to everyone across the board. This is definitely something I am eager to fight for, as on occasion I get annoyed I am have to put so much energy into a cause that from a certain perspective can be seen as an elitist, privilaged, white battle — even if we do get the government to grant us permission to have our private cowshares — we will not be allowed to help the poor people living in the DTES who are desperate for good nutrition. In the meantime there is a city in Brazil, Belo Horizonte, which years ago declared a zero hunger food policy and put in place ways to provide such affordable basic nutrition from local farms for their people. If North America is so advanced and cutting-edge, why is it that we are so far behind in providing this most basic necessity across the board?

P1440568Therefore, I also really appreciated when he laid out a plan of action as to how we can move forward via Alice’s constitutional challenge to bring this issue to the attention of the judicial system and get the constitution to specifically protect the right to basic nutrition for all citizens. The basic plan that he laid out for us is simple and he gave us a sense that we can acheive this, in fact it is practically in our grasp already. His message was very positive — and, at one point he seemed to be encouraging us all to get out there and practice acts of civil disobedience — and to find ways to artfullhy defend these kinds of transgressions.

Karen Selick spoke next, opening with a discussion of how our children are being used against us in order to stir up fear and to make is seem as if we are being “reclace with our children in regard to raw milk.”

“Children have become the latest excuse for everything….The notion that the government knows better than the parent what is good for the kids is BALDERDASH!”

She moved on to a discussion of how large beaurocratic government organizations makes it easy for these institutions to be usurped by politicians with their own interest and pocketbook in mind, who no longer are acting in the public interest. This is clearly seen today in how government officials and institutions are in the pockets of Big Pharma, Big Ag and Big Dairy.

She then brought up the example of how several recent studies have clearly demonstrated the importance of access to raw, farm fresh milk in preventing asthma and allergies. Given that asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations in Canada and that there is about 1 death every 18 days from asthma in Canada. Shutting down access to raw milk in Canada, therefore is a criminal act which is harming our children.

“Government is not only often wrong about the things it approves (pharmacueticals) but also about the things it disapproves.”

Hayley Lapalme from My Sustainable Canada spoke next, giving us a good overview of the various issues and inroads made into encouraging institutions such as hospitals, schools and prisons to keep their dollars in the local economy by buying local produce. It was interesting to hear this discussion as I have just spent a lot of time in the University of Washington medical center caring for my mother and had an opportunity to view first-hand how such an institution likes to “greenwash” themselves by putting supposedly local and organic food on their menu. U of W hospital has gotten all kinds of awards for this sort of thing, but I was disappointed to discover that they don’t even make their own bone broth as a basis for their foods.

P1440575Michael Schmidt who Jackie called “Our stubborn German” was up next and he gave us some of his personal background with growing up with the rise of the Nazis and his history of interaction with the various Canadian health authorities who raided his farm, sent in undercover spies to join his cowshare and more. He stressed again how important it is to remember that even these government officals who seem to think they can mindlessly hide behind the excuse that they are “just doing their jobs” are still human underneath it all.

“Don’t build barriers, break down barriers.”

It was also interesting to discover that Fraser Health has already spent $190,000 on lawyers alone in this whole rediculous debacle. Gratl reminded us that all of these governmental departments have litigation budgets and that he wouldn’t be surprised if Fraser Health has already spent more than it can afford on this whole issue.

After a delicious lunch break in which we dined on chicken provided by Polderside Farms, rolls from Terra Breads and more, Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures in California gave us an info-packed hour with some very hopeful news about how the raw milk movement in the US is gaining strength.

Some favorite quotes from him include:

“What you need is food that serves your gut-life, not shelf-life.”

“You can do CPR on pasteurized milk by culturing it.”

mcafeeDespite the dairy industry in the US spending 35 million dollars to try to get more people to drink pasteurized milk sales continue to drastically drop. “Dead milk is dying in the US, but sales of yogurt and cheeses continues to grow.”

He then moved into an interesting area with his statement that “Breast feeding is absolutely heroic.” There are some amazing studies being done at UC Davis which is also putting out the newsletter SPLASH which covers topics from breast-feeding to culturing foods. Unfortunately this cutting-edge information is being suppressed by the USDA and FDA. One of the interesting studies he mentioned was how breast feeding is actually a two-way process — a symbiotic relationship in which the microorganisms in the babies system will enter into the ducts in the mother’s nipple, the mother will then produce antibodies to these critters and when the baby drinks the milk the milk will be specifically engineered to be the most immune boosting food for that particular baby.

He then pointed out that we are all bacteriosapiens and therefore sterilizing our food is the perfect way to kill ourselves all off, as we are currently witnessing.

“Pasteurization is an 18th century solution to an 18th century problem.”

Mark McAfee then gave us his beautiful vision of a future where milk will be branded according to the farmer, cows and terrain on which the grass for the cows grew. In fact he sees a day when milk will be viewed as a fine wine is, with the notes of flavor being determined by these factors, and us humans as having regained the abiltity to taste the subtle nuances of the differences in the milk.

Nadine Ijaz spoke next with a very scientific examination of the science behind the raw milk controversy and debunked several raw milk myths. This was a particularly interesting piece as it stirred up a discussion as to the benefits and shortcomings of our modern scientific studies.

schmidtAlice Jongerden spoke again, this time about the benefits of herdsharing, and then Michael Schmidt spoke on the future of the movement….

A few favorite quotes from Michael:

“We are all missing the grounding here and raw milk brings us back to the Earth.”

“If you can kiss the ass of a cow, then you know it is a good farm.”

“Raw milk is liquid love.”

This was all followed by a Q and A session to the panel, which brought up some more interesting discussion on scientific studies….

8 Comments

  1. Christian says:

    I am seriously irked by the whole “nanny state” explosion in the past 10-15 years or so. I agree, the government treats us as though we’re idiots who don’t know how to parent our children. Meanwhile they’re the ones who are more than happy to encourage our little boys and girls to drink antibiotics and hormones.

    Good grief.

    Great post, looks like it was a very informative meeting.

  2. I just returned from the Total Health show in Toronto and having personally met and spoke with Jeffrey Smith and our own Chiv Chopra abet briefly. As the leader of the CACL Canadian Anti Corruption League I am on your side 100% but where are you? My group of dedicated people are ready and already perusing choice of food as one of our platforms but where are you when it comes to the CACL. We want and we need your support just as you need CACL and many others.
    CACL is the only group that plans to form a political party that is talking openly about corruption in all levels of government. Not one of the main line political parties will mention the word including the new Messiah Justin Trudeau. Why is this? What is the fear of talking about corruption and putting an end to it? The news papers are full of instances every day of Canadian Corruption.
    The last time I was at queens park with raw milk demonstration my banner stated ( end government corruption) Michael mentioned that it was a pretty strong statement and rightly so but corruption is the Root Cause of our problems. The bovine before this Michael mentioned corruption from my perspective for the first time. I hope he hones in on this theme as the politically corrupt want no part of this discussion. When Chiv Chopra spoke at the Total Health show he did not spare the word corruption or his contempt for those that partake of it. Cheers to Chiv a wonderful and under appreciated Canadian on magnificent stature.
    Go to our site http://www.canadiananticorruptionleague.org and read out platform, then join in on the blog and forum and have your say. Joining up is no cost as an associate but when we form ourselves into a political party there will be a membership. All we need is serious numbers to place considerable fear into the hearts of the corrupt in Canadian Politics. Please lets see some action.. Royce Hamer CACL leader.

    • hellaD says:

      Thanks so much Royce Hamer and CACL,

      We really appreciate your comment and complaint. You are right we should be working together on this. Michael is the majory spokesperson for raw milk in Canada but there are many others of us as well. I am personally not from Canada so I am not very good on staying on top of Canadian politics and I am very glad to hear about your league.

      The food freedom movement has all kinds of people and we don’t all see eye to eye on everything. Michael is always trying to find ways to work with the govt for example while I have anarchistic tendencies. I am truly disgusted at the corruption I have seen in Canada and I will do my best to have a good look around your site.

      Unfortunately I am currently spending all my time care-giving to my mother who has pancreatic cancer and so I am having a lot of trouble with staying involved in the issues, but I would really appreciate it if you would like to send us an article about your group so more people can get involved. Any way we can help we will do our best.

      If you would like us to repost anything or would like to do a series of guest posts that would help to keep your perspective at the forefront of people’s attention as well.

      Thanks so much again for pointing this out to us.

      hellaD

  3. YAY!

    I am so happy to see so many of my heros together on one stage!

    I wish I could be there, but I’m by myself caring for six pregnant goats — the raw mill will soon be flowing here! Know that I was there in spirit, and that those of us down in the trenches can’t always be present.

    • hellaD says:

      Thanks so much Jan for your note it is good to hear from folks who couldn’t make it! We know that everyone involved in this movement is a champion and I really wish we could find ways to really honor what each of us can put into it. I felt so amazed at the things people are quietly doing in their personal lives to work towards food freedom and I just wish we weren’t so muzzled from speaking out about our experiences. I hope to write a post soon to highlight some of the amazing stories of personal heroism that I heard while at the conference. Even just being a member of a cowshare is very heroic from my perspective! I can’t believe you are caring for six pregnant goats all alone!

      Maybe someday we will have a chance to come visit your farm it sounds lovely.

      • Vancouver Island Health Authority came knocking not too long ago. They are waiting on the outcome of the Our Cows trial, and have said they will shut us down if it goes against herd-sharing.

        I hesitate to introduce politics into this, but there is an election coming, and the NDP is on-record as supporting herd shares as an innovative way around the Federal prohibition of raw milk.

        If you can vote in BC and feel strongly enough about raw milk to be a single-issue voter, I urge you to vote NDP. They have a real shot at winning, and then we’ll have an Agriculture Minister and Health Minister who have both stood on the steps of the Legislature and publicly said they support legalizing herd shares for distributing raw milk!

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