It’s difficult to imagine that there might be a country that is more inhospitable to raw milk than the U.S., but there is, and it is just across to the north–Canada.
That becomes clear in a chilling documentary just out, “Michael Schmidt: Organic Hero or Bioterrorist?”, produced by Norman Lofts. It was screened in front of several hundred attendees Friday evening at the Weston A. Price Foundation Wise Traditions conference. Yours truly had the honor of introducing Michael and the film’s producer, Norman Lofts, who were both attending.
The film begins with a raid conducted by Canadian regulatory and police authorities on Michael Schmidt’s 100-acre raw dairy two hours outside of Toronto, in November 2006. Fortunately for us, Michael pulled out his video camera when he saw the police surrounding his farm, and began filming, so we have the bizarre scene of Canadian inspectors donning special boots, gloves, and hats before entering his barn, as if they’re looking for toxic wastes.
“I was completely calm,” Michael intones on the film of the seven-and-a-half hour raid. “The only time I got choked up was whenI saw the cheese equipment in their truck.”
It’s one thing to hear about the police raiding a raw dairy, quite another to see it unfold as it did at Michael’s dairy. Just as it’s amazing to listen to the Canadian regulators being interviewed, spouting their protect-the-children rhetoric. “This is a hazardous product, it really needs to be looked after,” says one. They really sound like Orwellian robotons as they repeat their gibberish, even in the face of alternating interviews from Michael’s healthy looking herdshare members discussing the ongoing health benefits they receive from consuming raw milk.
The question of liberalizing Canada’s total prohibition of raw milk came up briefly in the Canadian parliament following the raid on Michael’s farm, and a member is shown objecting: “We solved this problem sixty years ago.” His view prevailed.
A big part of the documentary is devoted to Michael’s 28-day hunger strike following the November 2006 raid, and we see him literally shriveling up before the camera.
We also see interviews with conventional dariy farmers defending required pasteurization, and admitting they don’t want Michael to rock the boat of their huge incomes derived courtesy of the monopolistic milk marketing boards.
The lingering feeling I had after the 47-minute film completed was of the loneliness of Michael’s struggle. He can’t get support from other farmers. He is defending himself in court.
Afterwards, Michael told audience why he has refrained from being represented in court by a lawyer. “I want to win it on principle. You can sink to their level or you can take the high road.” He’s been found in contempt of court, and in January faces a trial on charges of illegally selling raw milk.
He also talked about how his children have grown up in the shadow of law enforcement actions against the family dairy for the last 15 years. One of his young-adult sons has started to show signs of having had enough of the pressure.
As I said, it’s a lonely, and haunting, feeling.
One note: While the DVD of the documentary was on sale at the Weston A. Price Foundation gathering, it’s not yet available via mail order or over the Internet. That will likely change within a few months, says Norman Faston, the producer. In the meantime, the documentary has already won an award at a Canadian film festival. It’s well worth viewing.