James Stewart, manager of Rawsome Foods in Los Angeles’ Venice district, has been having a nightmare–“that they’ll come and bulldoze this property.”
“This property” consists of one forty-foot and two twenty-foot shipping containers that have been refurbished into a funky food distribution center used by the 1,500 members of Rawesome, which is a private food club.
He’s been studying the August 18 “Substandard Order” received from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, and for the life of him, can’t figure out what the exact appeal process is, or the date by which he needs to file an appeal. Nor can he get a straight answer from the department.
“Today could be the day–we could be shut even though we’ve done nothing wrong,” and even though there hadn’t been a peep from any city agency in the two years that the structures have been on the vacant lot. Stewart says he was led to believe that, because the containers are temporary, they aren’t subject to the same building regulations as a permanent structure.
In the meantime, Rawesome has continued to serve its members, opening yesterday as scheduled.
Now, Stewart appreciates that the “Substandard Order” isn’t about building codes or safety, It’s about politics, and The State made a strong political statement with its guns-drawn raids June 30 (on Rawesome and nearby Rawesome herdshare farmer Sharon Palmer) that included practically a batallion of food and health regulatory agencies at the city, state, and federal levels. “I’m under full attack,” he told me.
In addition, he’s been trying to provide advice to Morningland Dairy (discussed in my previous post), which has been forced into a recall of all its cheese for supposed listeria–but really being penalized for supplying Rawesome. Stewart and others point out that the agents who confiscated the cheese placed it into coolers without ice, and then nearly two months later came out with a finding of listeria. The cheese seems not to have been refrigerated after leaving the Rawesome premises, and who knows how it was kept in the intervening weeks.
But, of course, all that is beside the point. The point is that what’s going on here is, as I said in my comment following my previous post, amounts to a political gangbang. It was launched with a Los Angeles public health closure order. Followed up by the harassment recall of Morningland Dairy, a supplier to Rawesome. Followed up by the Los Angeles Building and Safety “Substandard Order”.
You’ll notice that in all this harassment, there’s nothing that has anything to do with the substance of the real issue here: Can consumers and farmers arrange private contracts covering food? There’s a reason The State doesn’t want to deal with that issue: Private contracts are a bedrock of everyday commerce in the U.S., so judges are likely to support such arrangements. The State doesn’t like to lose. ?
No, what would be much preferable would be for the State control freaks to bulldoze Rawesome as a form of “collective punishment.” It’s been a common tactic of the Israelis against the Palestinians–you inflict a harsh penalty on a few people, and hope everyone else gets the message. In the Middle East, the Palestinians have continually fought back against this tactic with whatever weapons they could muster. Would Americans do likewise?
There’s some interesting debate about conspiracy theories following my previous post. It’s easy to see conspiracies galore in what’s happening with Rawesome. I guess the question that comes to mind is this: Is James Stewart being paranoid when they really are coming after him?