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Raw milk drinkers Emily Kutarna (left) and Jana Kutarna (right) at the Food Freedom Rally in Regina on Nov. 23. Photo by Christeen Jesse.

Raw milk drinkers Emily Kutarna (left) and Jana Kutarna (right) at the Food Freedom Rally in Regina on Nov. 23. Photo by Christeen Jesse.

by Christeen Jesse

 

It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it’s illegal.

 

The sale of raw (not pasteurized or homogenized) milk is banned in Canada, but on Nov. 23, raw milk drinkers around the country rallied against the law.

 

“It needs to be brought to the public’s attention that we really don’t have the rights and freedoms for choosing the foods that we want to put in our mouths,” said Katy Helliwell, organizer of the Freedom Food Rally in Regina.

 

 Concerns about the safety of raw milk have been raised, suggesting the untreated milk can cause illness. The FDA reported in 2002 that the consumption of raw milk caused 200 Americans to become sick. But Helliwell said if raw milk is produced properly, it shouldn’t result in illness.

 

“We believe that there are a lot of myths around raw milk where we have been led to believe that it is scary,” she said.

 

“Raw milk is only healthy when it comes from a healthy animal who has been looked after properly. And that means that the cow needs to live outdoors, grazing on grass—a diet that they’re meant to eat. They are not meant to live in confinement and be fed soy protein and other greens.”

 

Roughly 30 people gathered outside the legislature on Wednesday afternoon to promote individual choice and the right to eat or drink as desired. Similar rallies were held in cities across the country on Nov. 23 as part of the nationwide push for food freedom.

 

“There’s a growing body of people who just want to get back to unprocessed foods and raw milk is one of those,” said Helliwell.

 

The consumption and production of raw milk is legal in the country, but the Canadian Food and Drug Regulation prohibits the sale—making it hard for consumers to access and purchase their drink of choice. Participants at the rally said they want to see the restrictions in Canada removed so raw milk can be sold in grocery stories just as any other organic product is.

 

“I don’t want to bring my children up to think that by giving them raw milk, I’m doing something illegal. I would like that to change, so that it doesn’t seem like a drug deal when we go to purchase our raw milk,” said Helliwell.

 

Keri Fox grew up on an organic farm and has been drinking raw milk for 32 years. She attended the rally and says the choice to drink raw should be available to more than just those people who own the cattle.

 

 “I just want the freedom for my kids to be able to choose. My parents live in Prince Albert, and if I lived up there, I could get milk from them, but I live here and I’m having trouble finding someone who will sell me raw milk—because it’s illegal,” said Fox.

 

For participants at the Regina rally, the issue is not promoting the health benefits of the raw white-stuff, but rather standing up for their basic rights and freedoms.

 

“We’re out here for the choice. The issue today is public awareness. We want policy changes for freedom of choice for when it comes to our food, fair trade for small farmers. It’s about animal welfare and it’s about better health,” said Helliwell.

 

“It might come across as just raw milk, but all of those issues are embedded in there.”