A campaign to flood U.S. and Canadian lawmakers with letters of support for a Canadian farmer who was convicted on charges connected with selling raw milk products has spread to Michigan.
Sample letters, contact addresses, and background of the case were re-posted this morning in EatLocalSWMich, a Kalamazoo-area online for people interested in local foods.
According to the website organizing the letter-writing campaign:
On September 28, 2011, the Ontario government won its appeal against Michael Schmidt, which reversed a previous ruling confirming cow share members’ right to obtain raw milk products.
Schmidt, the site said, has been fighting for the right to sell raw milk since his farm was first raided by Canadian officials in 1994. The recent ruling convicts Michael on 15 of 19 charges and reverses last year’s lower court decision to acquit him of all charges.
Since this ruling, the site says, Schmidt has embarked on a hunger strike.
The Toronto Star offers some historical perspective on the current debate:
In a story headlined “Two crusaders, a competing cause: Ontario’s raw milk saga,” the newspaper reports that before Michael Schmidt and his raw milk crusade, there was Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, who, “more than a century ago, after her youngest son, John, died from drinking contaminated milk as an infant, embarked on a campaign to have all milk heat-treated — pasteurized — to kill potentially harmful bacteria, making her one of Canada’s earliest food safety proponents.”
After her son’s death in 1889, Hoodless devoted herself to educating women in the “domestic sciences” and giving them the institutional backing they needed to protect their families, the story says.
Here are a few excerpts from the story:
And while Schmidt has waged a high-profile battle against public health authorities and milk marketing boards in his quest to get raw milk into customers’ hands, his most formidable adversary might be Hoodless and her legacy.
Oddly, each of their campaigns has been described as attempts to empower people and encourage them to take more responsibility for the food they produce and consume.
But while Hoodless saw government regulation as part of the solution, Schmidt’s ethos is decidedly libertarian: keep government out and let consumers decide what to eat.
Those competing philosophies are also at the heart of a growing international discussion about the role the state should play in monitoring and managing risks to food supplies.
Read the rest of the story here.