Killer Cows and You

Not many people know that cows are killers. Or rather, cow milk. But yes, according to the Canadian Government, the milk that comes out of a healthy cow is toxic and we must at all costs be protected from it. Welcome to the OS2 world.

Farmer Michael Schmidt of Durham Ontario is just one of several Canadian dairy farmers who have been charged with contravening the Health Protection and Promotion Act for selling unpasteurized milk to a small number of people who prefer it to the milk sold in stores. Just last week the Ontario government won its appeal against him and Michael Schmidt now faces jail time. Here are two Globe and Mail articles about this situation:

This is a classic case of OS2 (literate culture) colonizing an OS1 (oral) activity. People have been drinking milk straight from the cow since the dawn of time, and in much of the world they still do. But here in North America, massively centralized industrial milking operations have colluded with hyper-literate scientists and lawyers to demonize an ancient and entirely healthy food practice that occurs with minimal literate mediation.

This phenomenon is widespread in the food industry, where literate alliances of business/science/law/politics are going to mind-boggling lengths to eradicate food practices based on oral values and processes, i.e. raw milk and raw food in general. The raw food movement is itself a direct response to literate food industry practices such as force-feeding hormones and antibiotics to genetically-modified cows being mechanically milked in vast sheds until they sicken and are killed. (Farmers rooted in relationship-based oral traditions would never treat their animals this way. Literate farmers aren’t managing animals but units and projections. Just like health inspectors aren’t managing health but the imposition of paper policies.) But those who reject this approach to food production are criminalized by OS2 systems that quite rightfully see their activities as a threat to the profitability of the industrial agribusiness.

Of course, OS2 agribusiness prefers its milk mass produced in factories.

How very typical of cross-cultural clashes between oral and literate social systems, which do not just act at cross-purposes but which are actively hostile to one another, for they are based on such profoundly different values.

Raw milk is an OS1 food because it reflects a dialogical value system, one in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Michael Schmidt values lived relationships (with his customers, with the earth, with his cows, with life) more than the paper policies, laws, licenses and other fixed artifacts that impede his pursuit of balance and wellness. OS2 has little regard for those values, vastly preferring that which can be easily catalogued, patented and tracked in ledgers and other paper management systems. That which refuses to be ruled by paper – even something as innocuous as milk from a cow – is outlawed.


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