Raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt found not guilty

Raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt found not guilty

(Photo by Sunny Ripert)

The unpasteurized saga of the Durham farmer charged with distributing raw milk a year ago ended today when a Newmarket court found him not guilty of 19 charges.

Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky ruled that 55-year-old Michael Schmidt’s cow co-op does not violate Ontario’s public health or milk-marketing regulations. While it is legal to consume raw milk, selling or distributing it is not. Schmidt, who represented himself, argues that since people buy shares of the farm and pay maintenance fees in exchange for the milk, he’s technically not selling the milk.

Schmidt’s supporters surrounded him when he walked out of the courthouse and was handed a glass of his own milk to celebrate. “We want to be responsible for our food,” he told the Star. “Standing up for basic rights is a moral obligation, and that’s what we did. I could not have done this alone.”

The ordeal began in late 2006, when Schmidt’s farm was raided by armed inspectors from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Since then, it’s been a back-and-forth debate over the positive and negative effects of unpasteurized milk, as well as consumers’ rights.

The court upheld current legislation, though it will be interesting to read the next chapter in this straight-from-the-earth au naturel food tale.

Court approves raw milk co-op [Toronto Star]

Ontario farmer not guilty of selling raw milk [CBC]