Following new conviction, raw milkman Michael Schmidt begins hunger strike—again
The saga of raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt continues. Last week the courts overturned their initial verdict, which had found Schmidt not guilty of charges relating to the sale of unpasteurized milk. With his dream of legalization slipping away, the Toronto Star reports, the dogged dairy farmer has done the only rational thing and gone on a hunger strike—again.
Schmidt was informed Wednesday afternoon that he’d been convicted of 15 provincial offences relating to the sale of unpasteurized milk. He could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, including $5,000 for each day he continues to distribute his milk.
Schmidt, owner of Glencolton Farms near Durham, Ont., started his hunger strike Thursday night. He’s consuming just one glass of his own cows’ milk per day to start a public debate on food regulation.
“We need to sit down and think about what is the role of government in our life,” said Schmidt. “The government allows plenty of other things that are detrimental to our health.”
Clearly the man is serious about his milk (at least he’ll be getting his calcium). This is actually his second hunger strike—Schmidt claims he lost 50 pounds in four weeks after he was raided in 2006. And who could forget last year’s raw milk operetta, or the iChannel documentary? The farmer’s remarkable persistence has earned him the support of local foodies of a more libertarian bent.
But the courts are having none of it, and neither is the Star. Toronto’s paper of record published an editorial on the weekend that not-so-tactfully lauded its own role in getting pasteurization mandated in Toronto a century ago, before calmly evaluating the risks involved: “It’s the same way that Russian roulette is safe—until you reach the chamber with a bullet.” We can only hope some Star editor a century from now will remember to champion the paper’s role in this new fight.