Thursday, January 21, 2010 | 02:28 PM ET
By Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca
I hate the taste of milk. Every time my parents made me drink it as a kid, I got a stomachache. They didn't believe me, thinking I was up to childhood hysterics.
Michael Schmidt talks to reporters in July 2009 outside court in Newmarket, Ont. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)
I remember my aunt — in trying to coax me to drink my milk — adding Ribena to my glass, turning it pink. It worked for a day.
Then we figured out I was lactose intolerant. These days, I just carry Lactaid.
I'm intrigued by the three-year fight by Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt who produces raw, or unpasteurized, milk from his 150 cows. He then distributes the unprocessed milk to a small group of customers who have purchased "cow shares."
It's not illegal to drink raw milk in Canada, but it is against the law to sell or distribute milk that hasn't been pasteurized. (Raw-milk cheese, on the other hand, is legal in Canada as long as it's aged for at least 60 days.)
In 2006, officials raided Schmidt's farm, seized his milking equipment and slapped him with 19 charges relating to selling unpasteurized milk. On Thursday, he was found not guilty.
Pasteurization is the process of heating a food to kill harmful organisms such as bacteria (Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria), viruses, moulds and yeasts. Canadian health officials warn against drinking raw milk. So why do people do it?
"The rich and sweet taste of unpasteurized milk would blow most people away," Schmidt has said. "I bet that 90 per cent of the people who would have the choice by blind tasting would all go for raw milk because that is the taste of milk and not what you buy on the shelf."
Others argue the natural micro organisms in raw milk aid in digestion. At some of Schmidt's speeches, immigrants have recalled stories of drinking raw milk in their home countries and not having any digestive problems they now experience with pasteurized milk.
But really, Schmidt's fight tested the rights of consumers to choose what they want to eat. While the state can issue rules and warnings, can they really restrict what people consume?
Have you tried raw milk? What do you think about Schmidt's legal battle?
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About the blog
From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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