Tag Archives: raw milk

Consumers Rights On Raw Milk Debate Go Unchallenged!

Home pasteurized milk

Home pasteurization is easily done on a stove top. Why then is it illegal to buy?

Ontario made pasteurization of milk mandatory in 1938, but Health Canada did not make it mandatory until 1991. Canada bans the sale of raw milk but not its consumption. Although it is illegal to sell raw milk in Canada, consumers can own a share in the ‘source’ cow, which is what dairy farmer Michael Schmidt’s customers do. On Thursday, January 21st, 2010, Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky acquitted Michael Schmidt on 19 charges relating to the distribution of his raw milk. Because Schmidt had made diligent efforts to keep his cow-share program operating “within the confines and the spirit of the legislation”, JP Kowarsky concluded that the alleged offence fell into the category of ‘strict liability’; that is, criminal intent (‘mens rea’) could not be proved.

Schmidt had been prepared to do battle on a human rights level, and challenge the statutes on the ground that they violated his basic human right to ‘life, liberty and security of person’. In November of 2009, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF)—an independent, non-partisan, registered charity—announced its support for Schmidt on the grounds that consumers have the rights to choose what they put in their bodies, freedom of contract, and freedom from government regulation that is ‘arbitrary, unreasonable, unnecessary and unfair’. Even the existing cow-share system is an unnecessarily complex response to overly restrictive legislation. However, with Schmidt’s full acquittal, these complex legal issues may go unchallenged.

The Ontario government may choose to let the ruling stand, and live with the reality of cow-share arrangements. However, this is not satisfying the general public, because many people who would like to be able to access raw milk are unable to access a cow-share program; consequently, they have approached the CCF to see if they could pressure the government to change the law. According to Karen Selick (litigation director the CCF), if the government of Ontario wants to take the matter further, it has three options:

1. The government could appeal this decision. This would be a risky move because there is nothing to ensure it would be successful; moreover, it could backfire and escalate the confrontation of citizens and legislators. Schmidt and his long struggle have gained wide public support: the more people learn about his plight and educate themselves on the scientific and potential health benefits of consuming raw milk, the more people will want free access to it.

2. The government could create new legislation that specifically outlaws cow-sharing and/or the consumption of raw milk. However, there is strong opinion that, should the government choose this option, it would be met by public outrage, particularly from the burgeoning ‘food freedom’ movement. Furthermore, this would seem to constitute a breach of human rights at a most basic level, so the government would likely find themselves facing the CCF in court. In addition, policing the personal consumption of raw milk would be costly, if not impossible. Is someone going to be assigned to spy on farmers to ensure they are not sneaking a contraband tipple in the privacy of their own milking parlours?

3. The government could develop a regulatory procedure that would facilitate the sale of certified, safe, raw milk for interested consumers without requiring a cow-sharing arrangement. Schmidt and others—like Ontario raw milk advocate James McLaren—have offered to work with government officials to help develop the certification process. As Selick said in her article ‘Got Milk Justice’ (National Post, January 26, 2010), “Michigan is doing it right now. Why shouldn’t Ontario?”

Option 3 would be not only the most satisfactory solution for consumers, but also the most democratic.

Link to The Bovine: is a blog about rights around access to raw milk ,and chronicles the saga of Michael Schmidt, of Glencolton Farms, and his cow share holders with the authorities over the issue of access to raw milk.

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Filed under Educational, Ethical farming, Food Security, Food Sovereignty, Milk preservation techniques, personal food sovereignty, Politics of Food

Raw milk pasteurizing

Once a week I pay $6 (the equivalent of 18 eggs or an equal amount in a variety of my fresh produce) as my ‘share’ for access to a cow from whom I get 1 gallon of milk. When I get the milk back to the kitchen, I skim the raw cream off, refrigerate it and put the milk in a pasteurizer. I keep the fresh cream for our coffee (and if you have never had fresh, raw cream in your coffee you are missing out!) and pasteurize the fresh milk so I can make it into yogurt or fresh ricotta cheese.

Here is fresh milk I am about to pasteurized by hand on the stove.
Here is fresh milk I am about to pasteurize by hand on the stove.

To pasteurize, you can either buy a home pasteurizing machine, which I have now done, or do it on the stove. To do this safely on the stove, bring the milk to 145 F degrees and hold it there at temperature for 30 minutes, then cool it quickly.  Before I bought my pasteurizer, I did it this way.

Once this process is complete, remove the pot from the stove and immediately transfer it to a sink full of cold water with ice cubes, and stir the milk until the temperature comes down significantly (when it stops dropping). Once cooled, put it in a clean container and store in the fridge as you would any milk you buy from the store.

Pasteurizer filled with milk and ready for processing.
Pasteurizer filled with milk and ready for processing.

If you use a home pasteurizer, follow the directions for use. With mine, I first pour the milk into the container that fits inside the pasteurizer, then place the container inside the pasteurizer and fill the machine with water. I then place the lid on top, plug it in, and walk away until it is done. That easy. My machine has a buzzer to let me know when it is done. NOTE: the first few times of use, you should check the temperature of the milk once the cycle is complete, just to check that the machine is calibrated correctly.

Once it has finished the pasteurization through temperature process, you then sluice the container with cold, running water until the milk is cool, much the same as the above process. Then transfer it to a clean container and store in fridge until you want to use it.

NOTE: other sources say you can bring the milk to 165 F degrees for just a few seconds and then cool it immediately for safe pasteurizing.

See the following links for further information about pasteurizing milk safely:

University of Guelf Dairy Science

Health & Beyond (see table 2)

See the following Blog to read the issues around access to raw milk in Canada:

The Bovine

Go to Hoegger Goat Supply for home pasteurizing machines:

Hoegger Goat Supply

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Filed under Food Security, Food Sovereignty, How to..., personal food sovereignty, Politics of Food, Preserving the harvest