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Food Injustice: Raw Foodists Left Hungry After Raid on Private Buying Club Rawesome Foods

When James Stewart left for work the morning of August 3, little did he know his business, a private members’ raw food club, would be invaded by weapon-yielding officials.

Rawesome Foods—a buying club offering members raw milk, raw cheese, and other natural products—was the scene of a massive raid by several agencies, including the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Drug Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control, on allegations of illegally producing and selling raw milk and raw milk products.

The raid followed a year-long investigation in which agents purchased unpasteurized dairy products—such as goat milk, cheese, and yogurt—from numerous stands in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties.

The Raid on Rawesome Foods

Stewart was trailed by officials from his home to the Rawesome Foods establishment. After he entered the building, agents issued a warrant that stated property of Rawesome Foods was “being used as the means of committing a felony.”

Rawesome Food members were ordered by officials to immediately vacate the premises. Stewart was then interrogated about the amount of money that was in the building and from where had it originated. Without having his rights read to him, Stewart was handcuffed and taken away in an unmarked car.

Raided Shelves at Rawesome FoodsOfficials proceeded to destroy virtually all of the inventory on site. Rawesome Foods supplies between 400 and 800 gallons of raw milk per week for its members. Officials dumped every container on hand. Estimates cite approximately $30,000 to $50,000 worth of perfectly fine food was destroyed or confiscated. One witness noted a 20 foot flatbed truck left the scene brimming with produce.

Raw Food Criminals

Stewart was charged with 13 criminal counts relating to allegations of the unlawful production and sale of unpasteurized dairy products. An initial bail was set at an astonishing $123,000, of which Stewart was not allowed to pay himself, nor pay in increments. It has since been reduced to $30,000, but still governed by strict conditions.

The operator of Healthy Family Farms (the farm that supplies milk and other items to Rawesome), Sharon Ann Palmer, was also charged with 9 counts of unpasteurized milk production. One of her employees, Eugenie Bloch, was the third person charged following the raid, with 3 counts of conspiracy.

The Controversy

Single Cup of MilkOfficials claim this raid was part of a larger crackdown on the sale of dairy products that fail to meet current health standards because of their production in unlicensed establishments.

This is a case that many are calling an illegal persecution for people who buy and sell raw milk and cheese. California law does not make it illegal to sell raw milk—in fact, it can even be purchased in retail stores. What the problem is with Rawesome Foods is its supposed use of herdshare, or boarding agreement, for its dairy goats.

The 2,000 members of the private buying club pay a fee for the farmer’s labour. The club then distributes to its members the products it receives from the farmer. Healthy Family Farms operates as such without a dairy license. The state of California insists one is needed in arrangements like this.

Food Injustice

There is outrage over the handling of this case, including the misuse of power (gun-brandishing agents destroying a private club of members who wish to purchase and consume natural, healthy food), the absurd waste of tax payers’ dollars (up to seven hours was spent by the team of officials at Rawesome Foods during the raid) and the social injustice (thousands of pounds of perfectly edible food was destroyed adjacent to a homeless shelter).

A legal defense fund has been established to help cover Stewart’s costs in his quest for food justice through RealFoodRight.com. The website offers a coalition that supports local farm-to-consumer ecosystems, including direct private membership relationships between communities and small, independent, and family farmers, as the best way to uphold the highest real food quality and food safety.

To learn more, please click > Learn How You Can Donate to the Rawesome Defense Fund

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About Website Editor

I am the Editor in Chief of Healthynewage.com.

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5 comments

  1. Something is seriously wrong with a society that maliciously destroys food in the name of what the dictatorship disallows. Democracy? Ha! We lost that a long time ago. I always told my patients they should take responsibility for their own health. Guess that’s outdated advice now, since we aren’t allowed to do that anymore. This is nothing but an outright criminal move by our government to force us to be unhealthy so Big Pharma can keep making us sick to feed the medical establishment death machine. OUTRAGEOUS! And SHAME on the thugs who enforce this crap.

  2. Why not guns? Raw milk has killed people also. Feeding raw milk to your child is just like handing them a loaded revolver with one bullet in it. The funny thing with laws, I got pulled over for “rolling” thru a stop sign and you know what, the officer had his gun drawn? Oh the travesty. This was probably more “excessive” than what your talking about. Either way, don’t come crying to me when you do something illegal, and you know it is. Especially when there is an alternative. Especially when the “raw” doesn’t provide any scientifically proven benefit of any measurable benefit and pasteurization does significantly reduce any benefit. So stop calling raw milk a “magical food” the only magic you’ll find is how it change your toilet water to red. Drink up. I’ll raise your “high horse” and question your hypocrisy by wanting to limit the choice of people on food stamps to not being able to buy sugary drinks, even if they do not have health issues. Now excessive sugar in the diet is a real public health issue but you folks need to pet your egos over something that doesn’t give you anything different except taste. What a waste of your time and resources.

  3. This is a terrible injustice and massive abuse of government power! This type of unjustified search and seizure is completely unwarranted and unacceptable!

  4. “Fresh” the movie website also posted a very informative article ya all might like to read on this topic, Eye opening comparision on how tax dollars are spent. Check out Whose the Real Threat Cargill or Raw Milk

    Here is a quote from the article: “And there’s plenty of other data suggesting that the regulatory crackdown on raw milk is a waste of time and money. According to the CDC, approximately 800 people have become sick from raw milk since 1998. That’s an average of 62 people per year, compared with the 76,000,000 Americans who become ill, the 325,000 who are hospitalized, and the 5,000 who die annually from federally inspected/accepted ‘safe’ foods. Milk, pasteurized or unpasteurized, isn’t even on the list of the ten riskiest foods regulated by the FDA. The number one risk? Leafy greens.”

  5. This is very eye opening regarding how many people have become ill from drinking raw milk. This comparison was drawn up for a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors vote on permitting raw milk in the County.

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