What is white, frothy, and illegal to sell in B.C.?
Raw milk is illegal to sell in B.C., however 45 minutes south in Washington state it is sold legally. The Canada/U.S. border is being driven even further apart (at least in ideology) as the Lower Mainland's largest raw milk cooperative is being brought to court, again.
This Tuesday, September 14, the Fraser Health Authority will attempt to have Alice Jongerden, the dairy farmer for Home on the Range cooperative, found in contempt of court for “distributing raw milk for human consumption” after Judge Gropper issued a cease and desist on March 18th of this year.
What is at stake is whether or not the Home on the Range cooperative of over 400 herd owners is allowed to continue to receive milk from the dairy cows they collectively own. As a group, they pay dues that supports dairy farmer Jongarden in caring for the herd. A few times a week the farmers bring the milk into the city or herd owners go to the farm to pick-up their “dividends”: unpasteurized milk, butter, and yoghurt. After the March order, all the dairy products are marked with a large: “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.”
“The owners... then use and enjoy their own property in whatever ways, they believe best,” says share member Gordon Watson on his website: http://bovinity.webs.com.
Watson has said that what is really at stake in this debate is a person’s right to make his own informed decision about what goes into his body. Canada is the only G8 country where raw milk is outlawed. And after a decision in early 2010 legalizing raw milk cooperatives in Ontario, British Columbia is coming out as one of the most stridently anti-raw milk places in the world.
Canada made raw milk illegal in 1991. In B.C. it is considered a health hazard under Section 7 of the Public Health Act Transitional Regulations. Why all the fuss? Health officials in Canada say that milk can contain potential pathogens, such as E. coli, and that pasteurization (heat treatment) makes the milk safer by destroying potential pathogens. They say that especially for people with compromised immune systems: the elderly, pregnant women, and children, drinking raw milk could cause severe illness.
Raw milk, or real-milk, enthusiasts say that Health Canada laws have it wrong. They say that raw milk, when raised on small, controlled dairies with healthy, free-ranging cows produce the healthiest milk there is. They point to studies suggesting that raw milk can ease lactose intolerance, provide important probiotics and their associated health benefits, and even provide protection against asthma, allergies, and eczema.
The raw milk fans point the finger right back at health officials and say that it is pasteurized milk that is more likely to become contaminated because it doesn’t have the good bacteria to help fight off any contaminating bad bacteria. As well, herds that supply pasteurized milk do not have to be inspected for disease. Processed milk is being linked to a host of other ailments from infertility linked to skim milk and heart disease from homogenized milk ingestion.