Raw milk debate spills onto legislature steps

People who drink raw milk are demanding their right be protected by the Alberta Government.
Ontario raw milk activist Michael Schmidt arranges glasses of milk at a demonstration in front of the Alberta legislature Monday. ((CBC))
People who drink raw milk are demanding their right to do that be protected by the Alberta Government.

"It's not just about milk," said Judith Johnson, who farms west of Edmonton.  "It's about our freedom to choose healthy foods for our bodies and our ability to attain it without being persecuted like a drug dealer."

Raw-milk drinkers say pasteurization, the process of heating milk to destroy bacteria and extend shelf life, destroys important nutrients and enzymes.

Milk producers can consume unpasteurized milk but they cannot sell it.

So some dairy farmers are distributing raw milk through cow-share programs where devotees buy a share of a dairy herd.

Johnson and her husband share seven cows with about 20 families.

About two weeks ago she was delivering about 50 litres of milk to other members when RCMP and Alberta Agriculture officials pulled her over.

"It looked like a drug bust," she said. "And it's only milk."

Michael Schmidt of the Food Rights Movement recently won a court case in Ontario to allow cow-share arrangements.

He addressed a small demonstration on the steps of the legislature Monday morning.

Governments need to change how they deal with raw milk, Schmidt said.

"It's a national issue," he told the CBC. "People should have the right to drink the milk they think is good for them. It's not up to the government to tell them, 'You cannot do that.'"

Schmidt said there are no cases where anyone in Canada has died from drinking raw milk.