Beverley Viljakainen and Michael Schmidt toast the publication of the book with raw milk. Beverley's glass is empty because she can no longer buy raw milk from Glencolton Farm.
BY LYNNE TURNER FOR SOUTHGREY.CA — Michael Schmidt, named 2017 newsmaker of the year by South Grey News, has published a book – “Raw Milk and the Search for Human Kindness: Overcoming Fear and Complacency
Although Schmidt is known internationally for legal battles resulting from his attempts to provide raw milk and dairy products to consumers who wanted them, the book is about much more than the milk wars.
According to promotional material for the book it is “about the human spirit and the reactions to it by those in positions of responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the citizens of Canada.”
The book almost reads like fiction as the author explores what he calls the mystery behind his experiences over the past 25 years.
“Why would our elected politicians allow government officials to spend millions of dollars of taxpayers money on undercover operations, farm raids, criminal charges and hours and hours of valued court time to curtail the activities of one lone farmer whose products have harmed no one and are appreciated by those who have been declared potential criminals should they access them?” Schmidt asks.
Written in the form of an opera with a prelude, four acts – “The First Milk War”, “The Second Milk War”, “The Saga of the Lost Sheep”, “The Third Milk War” and finale, the book is a clever homage to Schmidt’s musical background and his Symphony in the Barn. It chronicles Schmidt’s life from a boy in Germany to moving to Glencolton Farm outside of Durham to his various ventures over the years and, of course, the “milk wars”.
An additional interest for local readers are references to local landmarks, families and organizations including former MPP Bill Murdoch, various news organizations including South Grey News, the West Grey Police Service, Edgehill School, Eckhardt’s Shell on the outskirts of Durham and the infamous “Blue Bus”.
The book includes a 16-page photo section.
Schmidt had been asked to write a book previously but said the time “just felt right” to undertake the project now.
“While spending two weeks in a hospital in Germany recovering from surgery last year, I finally began to write it,” he said.
“Raw Milk and the Search for Human Kindness: Overcoming Fear and Complacency” was written by hand and Beverley Viljakainen, a grassroots healthcare advocate and long-time friend did all the typing and helped, Schmidt says, in innumerable ways.
“It had been twenty-five years prior to that she had said, at the beginning of the first milk war, “and here the journey begins,” without even knowing me or the farm. How true indeed! She is one of the very few who witnessed the entire saga herself and stood by the farm through thick and thin,” he writes in the book’s prelude.
Viljakainen, now 83 years old, says when she moved to Grey County in her 50s and “had been off commercial dairy for years because of its negative effects on my digestive system, all symptoms having cleared up. When I realized I was in raw milk country, I became a regular consumer of Glencolton Farm’s dairy products.”
She has helped out on the farm and with the sale of raw milk over the years.
“Working together on this book was a no-brainer for Michael and I, which I have enjoyed immensely,” she said.
The hardcover 464-page book is available at Glencolton Farm, online or by mail. It is also available at Chicory Common in Durham and Highland Grounds in Flesherton. The books are $45 each, plus shipping if necessary.
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