This article originally appeared in the Rural Observer March 2015 Issue (page 13)
Local Food Rights
by Linda Morken
Do you think our local farmers have the right to produce raw milk, and do British Columbia consumers have the right to buy it?
Why do consumers want raw milk?
Aside from the superior taste differences, there is mounting evidence that probiotic-rich raw milk is a health-enhancing food and that its vital elements are destroyed by pasteurization and processing. Raw milk therapy is currently a well-used protocol in German hospitals, just as it was in the early 1900’s at the then named Mayo Foundation when the ‘raw milk cure’ was used as successful therapy for hopeless cases. Raw milk can truly be a life-saving food and has been shown to help with asthma, allergies and many other conditions.
Why do farmers want the right to produce raw milk?
Thirty years ago, BC had over 4,000 dairy farms, today there are 480 and declining. Small local dairies boost the economy and selling milk, butter and cream can actually be what saves the family farm. One small farm can easily employ five full-time staff and more. Farmers have been denied fair markets for their dairy products for more than a century in Canada. Farm families are deprived of making an honest living. Because of a food regulation that doesn’t apply to many other higher risk foods, farmers that produce traditional raw milk risk going to jail and ludicrous fines that can mean losing their farms.
But is raw milk safe?
No one will argue that in days long gone there were serious problems with swill milk that came from sick cows in deplorable, dirty conditions. However, with proper standards and modern testing with a food safety plan (such as with a Risk Analysis and Management Program – RAMP), regulated raw milk can be extremely safe. In fact, raw milk is deemed to be no more risky than eating spinach. Raw milk isn’t risk free, but it is a low risk food. This conclusion was documented in a Grand Rounds presentation at BC’s own Centre for Disease Control last year by researcher Nadine Ijaz. Modern safety checks and methods ensure healthy cows and clean milk. Making raw milk sales legal and regulated is a way to achieve these standards.
The non-profit Weston A. Price Foundation (for which I am a volunteer Chapter Leader for Victoria and area) has advocated for the legal sale of safe, raw milk for many years. Their Campaign for Real Milk has been instrumental in the fact that raw milk is now legally available in 40 American states and in many countries the world over. In this time of never-before-seen numbers of children suffering from chronic, degenerative diseases, the awareness that raw milk is a nourishing and healing food is growing. The demand for it is large and won’t be stopping any time soon.
Canada is the only G8 Country that restricts 100% access to farm fresh milk. Many European countries even dispense raw milk in vending machines. I believe it is long past time to change this regulation and bring British Columbia to a place where the need for raw milk is acknowledged and the rights of its citizens to produce and access this traditional food are respected.
What Can You Do?
If you feel that the regulations around the production and consumption of raw milk should be changed in British Columbia, your help is needed. I urge you to write to BC’s Minister of Health, the Honourable Dr. Terry Lake, and ask him to please remove clause 2(a) from the Health Hazards Regulation. This is the law which classifies raw milk as a “health hazard,” and “causing a health hazard” in BC can lead to fines of up to $3 million dollars or 3 years in jail under the Public Health Act. Health authority inspectors use this law to shut down herdshares, even if no illness has ever been caused. All that is needed to change this regulation is the Honourable Minister’s signature on a Minister’s Order. His mailing address is:
The Honourable Terry Lake
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Also, if you want to support this food rights issue in BC, consider joining and volunteering with the BC Herdshare Association. This is a lobby group that is working to change the law by removing raw milk out from under the control of the BC Milk Marketing Board and making herdshares exempt from the Milk Industry Act.
If you need more information about raw milk, please take a look at this site: www.realmilk.com. It may be the encyclopedia of milk issues and certainly can be considered as the source of any raw milk facts I have written about here.
This article is intended to be for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional. The nutritional and other information are not intended to be and do not constitute health care or medical advice.
Linda Morken is a Volunteer Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, Victoria Chapter. Contact Linda via email email@example.com or visit the chapter
web page: http://chapters.westonaprice.org/victoriabc/ or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wapfvancouverislandchapter