Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bovine in the raw

In the news this week...

Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt is in court facing criminal charges for providing raw milk to his customers through a cow-share program. Sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal in Canada, as it can contain harmful bacteria. The trial is expected to last seven days. It is not Schmidt’s first time in court for defying Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Does anyone else think this is silly? People who choose to drink raw milk do so because they feel the potential health benefits outweigh the risks. Isn’t that the case with any activity we do for our heath? Pharmaceuticals come with pages of warnings, yet people take them because the benefits to their health outweigh the risks. We are all urged to consult our doctor before beginning a new fitness program. Why? Because there are risks, but for most of us the potential gains make taking those risks worthwhile. I bet every Canadian knows someone who has lost teeth while playing hockey, yet we‘d all agree that hockey and other sports are healthy activities.

Some opponents feel that raw milk needs to be banned to protect children from their parents’ dietary choices. I find this argument particularly ridiculous. Yes, there are parents who make poor dietary choices for their children. You can find them in the grocery stores and fast food restaurants daily. Raw milk advocates certainly aren’t the only ones making potentially harmful food choices for their kids.

I really haven’t done enough research to know what to think about raw milk, but I still don’t understand all the time, energy and money being spent on this trial. Whatever the outcome, I admire Schmidt’s willingness to stick to his beliefs in spite of adversity. His tenacity has brought attention to how we think about food at a time when such consideration is truly needed.

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