Lucky Dip – Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Michael Schmidt is now on day 19 of his hunger strike over the lack of legalization for raw milk, and says he will continue until Premier Dalton McGuinty grants him a meeting. [Toronto Star]

When it comes to shoplifted items, cheese is the most popular food for people to steal. I’m guessing this is because it’s usually small enough to slip into a pocket. Shame about the crackers being so bulky. [Sky News]

The blood is the life… just in time for the season of ghouls and vampires, Toronto chefs are cooking with blood. And while, IMO, items like blood sausage tastes like rank death, some of the stuff (like a tart where blood is combined with chocolate) are actually really good. [Globe and Mail]

For all of those 99% complaining that they can’t get a job, any job at all, maybe they can explain why, all over the US, in the face of a crackdown on illegal immigrant workers, farmers are having to either turn to prison labour or destroy their crops because they can’t find unemployed people willing to do field work. [Wall Street Journal]

Confirmed – The Four Seasons‘ “mystery chef” is indeed Daniel Boulud. [Toronto Star]

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Michael Schmidt continues his hunger strike after the courts ruled against him last week in his efforts to sell raw milk. [Toronto Star]

The difficulty of converting cookbooks to eReader format. [New York Times]

Dave Bidini’s new column Coffee Run explores the allure of Krispy Kreme. [National Post: Posted Toronto]

Okay, the “sexy” Halloween costume thing really needs to be over. Sexy fruit salad? Sexy Chinese take-out? Eesh. [Village Voice: Fork in the Road]

Go ahead, eat that sushi – it really is good for you. [Globe and Mail]

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The Savvy Shopper – Not Milk

Southern Ontario’s food community was shocked earlier this week when news came down that dairy farmer Michael Schmidt was acquitted of all 19 charges against him with regards to the production and sale of raw milk. Because of laws created in the early 20th century, it is illegal to sell or give away raw milk in Canada. Milk pasteurization laws were created to protect the health of citizens consuming a product that, left untreated, could contain e.coli, salmonella and other deadly organisms.

It is still illegal to sell or give away raw milk, although it is not illegal to consume the stuff – Schmidt won because the case was really about the constitutionality of his business model, which is to sell shares in a cow (and their output) to private individuals. As “owners” of the cow, they can legally consume the milk from it. Schmidt’s fight was also against Ontario’s quota system, used in the dairy and poultry industries, which strongly favour large-scale farmers. The Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) run the quota system, which can cost farmers as much as $20,000 per cow, and all milk in the system is pooled and pasteurized, and sold through the DFO. Small scale farmers like Schmidt generally cannot afford to pay quota to the DFO, and besides the issues of right to choose and health and safety of the product, Schmidt likely makes more money selling shares of his product than he would by being involved in the DFO’s corporate system.

As would be expected, the DFO is not happy about Schmidt’s recent win, claiming that his system puts public health at risk.

One of Schmidt’s points in his defence (he represented himself in court) was that consumers should have freedom of choice. Food activists will continue to press this point as they begin to put pressure on the government to make raw milk publicly accessible and more widely available for sale. Personally, I think this is a bad idea. While I believe in the right to choose the food you eat, we need to remember that raw milk is a special product that requires considerable care both in how it is created and how it is stored by the consumer.

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