When you watch the brief video below of the raid yesterday on Rawesome Food Club, resist the inclination to focus on the conversation and shouting happening off to the left. Instead, keep an eye on the guy who keeps appearing on the right. He’s the law enforcement agent who’s literally closing the gate at Rawesome Food Club in Venice, CA, so no one can see that the agents inside are gathering pretty much all the nutrient-dense food in the two shipping containers that house Rawesome, prior to carting it off.
It’s not clear if Rawesome will re-open Saturday as scheduled, and as many members hope, or whether it will be shut down forever. The prosecutor in the arraignment today of two Rawesome associates said the Rawesome site “is supposed to be a vacant lot,” since no building permits have been issued. And the judge seemed to be in agreement.
The bigger question is whether that law enforcement agent is figuratively closing the gate on private food clubs in the U.S. as well. The pressure on such associations is certainly intensifying, nearly by the day.
On Thursday, two Rawesome associates, James Stewart and Victoria Bloch Coulter, were arraigned in a Los Angeles court, after having spent more than 24 hours in jail. Coulter’s $60,000 bail was eliminated, and she was released on her own recognizance. As for Stewart, his bail was reduced from $123,000 to $30,000, but by the end of Thursday, he still hadn’t been released; it’s understood that a bail agreement was being drawn up that stipulated as a condition of his release that he not engage in the sale of unpasteurized milk from an un-permitted location–another problem in addition to the vacant lot issue. The judge in the case seemed to have no awareness of the distinction between a public retail business and a private member-only association. (The third person arrested, Sharon Palmer, is in a different jail, and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.)
And it’s there, in the confusion between private and public enterprises, that there’s a big problem. Even at that bastion of private enterprise, Forbes, there is much confusion. A blogger there, who criticized the FDA for wasting huge amounts of money and manpower on the raid, then asked: “I still wonder, though, if permits were available, why didn’t Stewart just bite the bullet? It seems easier to go along with bad regulations and fight them in the court of public opinion or at the ballot box rather than simply disregard them and face another raid.”
Private groups like Rawesome have sprung up so that people can access nutrient-dense foods that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed or be available via the “permitted” public retail food system. While much of the forbidden foods include a wide variety of raw dairy products, there is also the matter of chickens raised on soy-free diets, fermented vegetables, truly pastured eggs, and raw honey, among other products. It can certainly be said that raw dairy products are available in California, but some people want something other than Claravale and Organic Pastures milk–perhaps goat milk or camel milk, or cow’s milk from a producer outside California.
Now, if you look through the criminal complaint filed by the L.A. County District Attorney, you find that much of it is devoted to trying to discredit the private association structure established by Rawesome or the apparent CSA established by Sharon Palmer. There is discussion of a $1 “day fee” at one point for one of the undercover agents. There is the suggestion that the $50 annual membership fee for Rawesome is a wink-and-a-nod that leads to the quick hand-over of raw dairy.
There is also the suggestion that because Rawesome is outside California’s regulatory structure, its food is unsanitary and mislabeled–indeed, there are criminal counts associated with selling unsanitary and mislabeled food. It’s all playing on people’s ignorance of what happens in private food clubs and associations. A commenter on my previous post, RawMilk Advocate, points to the charge that “Eggs labeled with stickers that read: Healthy Family Farms Santa Paula, California. Fresh-free Range 8027A – Grade AA Pack Date 5/14/201 (134) Sell by: June 15 – Refrigerate after purchase – Large – were found for sale at Rawsome. These labels were attached to a box made by other commercial egg vendors.”
As I said in my previous post, I don’t know whether there is anything to the Aajonus Vonderplanitz charges about Sharon Palmer’s eggs. But anyone who regularly obtains eggs at farmers markets or via food clubs knows that the producers invariably place stickers with their farm names onto re-cycled egg containers from the grocery or other places. The producers save money on having customized containers produced for them.
But it’s completely clear all this has nothing to do with outsourcing or real safety issues. It is about availability of raw dairy and public-versus-private food distribution.
Since much of the case seems to be focused on Sharon Palmer’s goat milk (and James Stewart’s involvement in distributing it), it could be that the authorities were somehow troubled by what may have been her wink-and-nod approach to distribution. If so, it’s more evidence of something I’ve argued in the past: that food clubs need to dot their i’s and cross their t’s in putting together a private food group. Otherwise, they won’t stand a prayer in any kind of court challenge before an uneducated judge.
In any event, the word is that Rawesome will be open for members on Saturday, albeit with limited product availability. But the key is that it re-opens, and demonstrates the commitment of its members to retaining access to the nutrient-dense foods of their choice.
As for Sharon Palmer, please see this blog by Santa Barbara WAPF members countering the various allegations against her:
why not a few secret agents at Cargill? They distribute to thousands of people who have no idea what they are buying, not a private food club where members can do just a little homework to find out the source of their food. In some states it is now illegal to do undercover work in cafos, perhaps our gov't dollars would be better spent there so the private sector can get a window on where their food is coming from and individuals do not put themselves at risk of arrest.
This cannot be about food safety for our population.
I have a stack of milk cartons here from all sorts of places, but I know my eggs come from my neighbors and their contented hens. Labels on top of other marked cartons mean nothing.
"these activist groups that have the single goal of eliminating animal agriculture in its entirety," said Sarah Hubbart,"
I doubt that this is true. Sounds just like the Russian roulette statement….fear mongering.
"Industry officials and bill supporters say undercover investigators can bring in diseases that could wipe out animal operations"
LMAO, the horrid conditions of the cafos cause disease.
"The videos also give the impression that environmental and welfare breaches are widespread, Olson said."
Duh!! No the cafos are NOT the average farmer.
No it is not about food safety.
I, too, am appalled at the huge waste of money and people resources that went into the Rawesome raid.
"Raw Milk Regulations Tighten As Demand Increases "
Seems the words; "Demands Increases" are key words….
I wonder if this is the food poisoning my son had last month?
"Because salmonella is so common in poultry, it is not illegal for meat to be tainted with the pathogen"
Doesn't that make you want some?
This really isn't a great private buying case. Beyond the apparently thin club veil that is evident in the charges, there was an egregious violation of the interstate commerce ban. Anyone operating a thinly veiled buying club would do well *not* to set up a giant FDA magnet in their operation. What I'm saying here is that as much as people might see it as a test of a buyer's club, the ship will sink under the PA milk. The buyer's club is just CDFA icing.
The buyer's club notion is thin as it is anyway and a strategic club would do well to operate as far below radar as possible. A friend gave me an analogy yesterday: let's set up an opium den and sell shares in a poppy field. We'd have heat on us immediately. Just sell chicken (that doesn't end up in college cafeteria kitchens) and you may be alright.
Back to California, to add insult to injury, IF there is cow/goat share legislation forthcoming (i.e. from the No Cal shares that have been in the news recently) and IF ANY of these fraud allegations are true, who will have ammunition against cow share legislation? Right. Everyone. This is why the buyer's club/goat share angle is CDFA icing. It is critical that we learn if there are bad apples in this case and, if there are, throw them out of the barrel.
Until people get a better long game play on, the raw milk movement will be chasing its proverbial tail.
I think this is the key point here going forward, and I would add it applies to "educated" judges as well. I have repeatedly heard Rawsome referred to as a co-op and not as a "buying club" and I think there are distinctions. I know of co-ops in other parts of the country that essentially operate just like a retail store and sell out of a retail location, and also sell to non-co-op members. So I am still confused as to what the real issues are here, as it does seem that there could have been some violations that are real, and not totally related to the issue of the freedom to enter into private contracts with food producers.
The NY Times coverage of this event has an interesting quote from the FDA that I think really DOES define what the issue and battle ground is:
"Siobhan DeLancey, a spokeswoman for the federal Food and Drug Administration, which participated in the investigation of Rawesome, said the administration banned the interstate sale of raw milk products because they could be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems. Our biggest concern is really with children, because pathogens that can be in raw milk can be extremely dangerous for the classically at-risk, she said. Weve seen people wind up as paraplegics."
That is the issue we must fight against – the government deciding what is healthy and what is not, and taking away private individual's rights to enter into private contracts with producers of food. I hope whoever is representing Rawsome in this case takes note of this quote.
In the meantime, the members of Rawsome might want to consider re-organizing and setting up a REAL buyer's club with appropriate checks and balances.
Reading the pro-Palmer website, I'm just not real impressed by the detail, at least the relevant detail. Show why the evidence laid out in the PI report is incorrect. Show the previous year's worth of feed receipts that were probably saved for tax purposes (or maybe this was all cash, I don't know).
Vanderplantz was not a core leader yesterday. The core leadership for yesterdays events were centered arround the common consumer of raw milk, the moms and babies, myself, Ana Marie Michaels, Lela Buttery ( Rawesome management – Not in jail ). It was made very clear early on during the rallies that we would speak about what unites us all and not about details of waht might divide us.
Any of these peripheral issues about contracts, liscences and rights to contract will be fought over in courts…In CO, remember that 83 Cow Shares operate and do not sell raw milk…just like RAWESOME. So, the idea that one law fits all is something that will be fought over and will have serious court time in the upcoming years. This is ultra-lites verses B-747 jet regulations….this is a "private members in a closed club"…not "retail in stores".
What we need to do is teach using the available media….the media gift yesterday was truly amazing. The FDA has failed to appreciate what they have done for the foods movement. Today we are stronger and bigger than ever.
You teach You teach You Teach!!!
I do not share the old negative James Stewart feelings that Ron Garthwaite shares. James has been a friend of CA Rawmilk for 12 years. This must be remembered, acknonledged and recognized. We are all on one team. To wish jail on anyone besides a murderer or child molester….is a very sad comment. James is a great human being and holds very high moral and ethical beliefs. He error was actually attempting to exercise his rights as he thought them to be….he miss calculated and the FDA got him. Now we will see how the courts and the juries feel about this. The FDA is not the jury and the verdict is three years from even being known.
Until then….teach in unity.
As a condition of bail and release from jail, both Victoria and James are subject to blanket court ordered GAG Order. The order is outlined at naturalnews.com. Neither of them are allowed to blog,email, speak, communicate, be interviewed or do any kind of communication about their arrest, the raid or any related issue.
Is this America? This is gasoline on the Raw Milk Fire for sure. That means we all must speak with even louder and more passionate rage. The is FDA state sponsored theft, terrorism, constitutional rape and pure fascism.
I seem to recall a few months ago reading something on the Cheeseslave blog (after Anne Marie visited your dairy and posted about it on her blog) that this Amanda person caused a lot of problems and even tried to appear as though she was on the side of raw milk when, in fact, she is no such thing? Or am I getting her confused with someone else? I'm usually not easy to fool on these matters, though. (:->)
If, in fact, she is the person I think she is, I did a web search about her. Interesting.
These awful authorities must face the reality that they have abandoned the principles as they chase nuances. Ever nudged by interests wholly disconnected with the key principles (interests that see the law as simply another tool, handy to use, to accomplish their ends), these awful authorities have wandered so deep into the labyrinth that they think that is their actual home. Those of us that act as though the key principles are as simple as they read, and real, and applicable to our lives are outlaws because, simply, we are outside the (now) unprincipled labyrinth of the law.
Remember the scene in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, where Grima Wormtongue had been advising King Theoden of Rohan? These authorities are as Theoden was, under Grimas persistent, subtle, evil influence. Having forgotten the reality of the principles of a self-governing society, they neither protect nor defend those principles but even as now attack them. Heaven help us.
The chains and slavery of dear life and sweet peace await us all if we do not fight this battle as one.
This combination of unprincipled nudgers and a loose grasp on principles has led the law into quandary. As such the law cannot provide leaders, but only offer chains and slavery, witting or not.
We must unite and fight for our liberty and freedom.
Liberty and freedom are high maintenance. No?
Teaching is fighting.
Mr. J. Ingvar Odegaard
In also find it odd that the calls for the raw milk community to 'stay together' are coming from someone who is going forward with an action that will create a 'third raw milk' and fracture the raw milk community into an us and them movement. The last thing this movement needs is a group casting aspersions and doubt about those who decide not to pay a membership fee.
Goatmaid…David has removed comments before, I believe, when the attack got too 'mean spirited'. I think it highly unlikely, given Amanda's previous tenor, that she would remove her defense and allow those questioning her position to go unanswered.
I don't really want to get off of the current issue here.
Indeed, integrity is needed within the food freedom movement, and that begins with informed consumers. If we are going to take a stand against the FDA and their desire to control our food choices, we need to know what (and who) we are standing up for.
One more time. Raw milk is not raw colostrum. We only bottle our own colostrum and have not collected from other organic dairies in many years.
On the current issue, I may be mistaken, but I did not see any CFR 1241.61 charges filed on James. This fascinates me. It appears that the FDA is perhaps staying away from compounding their live snake bite potential with Gary Cox and the FTCLDF. These appear to be mostly state charges. Please….one of you lawyer types please set me straight….am I right about this??
Christopher Darden appears to be representing THE RAWTHREE. Wow!! Huge name, super heavy hitter from the OJ Simpson case.
We have never ever….ever bottled any raw milk other than our own.
Any doctor worth a PHD would think about what is important and spend energy on those subjects.
Even though we developed a label system for outsourced milk to make cream into raw butter, we have never used it. We decided that "what is legal under CDFA raw grade A standards" is clearly not good enough for Dr. Rose and some others. So we amended our RAMP protocols years ago and absolutely nothing is purchased from outside. Nothing except for bottles and caps. Nada. So Amanda if you want to claim a win for your personal agenda….feel free to do so. We follow your suggested policies strictly and have done so for years.
The whole food scene here and especially on the Westside is schizophrenic at best. Working at the markets and especially with a product that is a hot-button issue, I am pretty much at ground zero and because of my nature either information comes to me asked/unasked or I am caught in the crossfire.
There is a great deal of backstabbling, greed, machiavellian posturing, paranoia, and "tiger" mom's becoming totalitarian for "the good of the community." Many who are producing "whole foods" are producing a mediocre product at best yet are the loudest to scream against the powers that be. The fight seems to be more important than improving the quality of their product. I have been a part of all of these.
Because of this I am wary when people in this movement talk about "unity." In this movement, I know of farms heavy handing co-ops to get them to sell their product. I personally have sent many people to co-ops knowing that they had products that that we didn't have and yet constantly be bad-mouthed in return by the owners and members of these co-ops. I know of farms who have become corporate and who have begun to resort to the California way of "hiring cheap and have them do more." Of "mom and pop" operations who are vicious with anyone who they consider competition and actively lobbying to keep competition out of the markets. Of farms and individuals who cut as many corners as the can in relationship to county or city codes obstensibly for libertarian reasons yet more likely to increase their "bottom line"
And this "movement" unites against an "enemy?"
If this movement continues to be adrenalin-fueled and war-based then it will just be pissing in the wind. War has become obsolete except for those who want to play it, use it for marketing and establishing their brand. Give a "romantic" an actual solution and they will refuse it as that which they are romantic about will cease to exist. They would rather it remain "in perpetuity"
And how much of these raids been brought on by those who operate these dairy's, co-op's and buyers clubs themselves? By being contrary for the sake of being contrary. Sorry, a lot of James' clientle are out-and-out nutcases. People can be who they are. Yet just because I do not worship chem-trails, gold standard, upcoming-armeggedon, Zeitgeist, David Icke, pick your politician nor have the appropriate hatred towards towards the imaginary Illuminati, Bilderberger, fill in your global conspiracy group, I am held with some sort of contempt to where it has come to I have to go in, get my product and get the hell out. Circular logic is the name of the game here so when something like this happens their well-argued case in their heads is proven. And then I am called to stand up for them in the name of "freedom" and "unity?"
I was Madonna's first yoga teacher. I soon left as I did not care to be a part of the entourage. I then had regrets as to whether I had given up something that literally would give a lot of press and cache. I spoke with a good friend and successful movie producer about this.
Her reply was, "Most people in this industry see her as a fanatic. If you are associated with her, you will be seen as one also"
There are a lot of good people who post well-thought out, interesting and informative things on this site. I also appreciate the work David has done. And it has become more and more an issue to sift through the continual, hyper-vigilant call to arms that is constantly here. If one is in a constant state of vigilance, then that person doesn't know what is truly threatening. And in this case, more and more, it seems like the "movement" itself.
We have met the enemy….and they are us!
Lastly, I am sure some of you will post saying, If you don't like it then stay away from the site"
And that is the point. Staying away. It shouldn't be that way. Not for me. And not for others who want to stay current with what is going on.
I support Sharon as I see her as a woman establishing a business, standing on her own and learning how to negotiate the system openly.
I support Victoria as she is a friend who has been supportive, open, intelligent and kind in my presence. She has also answered me clearly when I had questions about HFF.
I do not care to deify either.
How can our government justify destroying food when so many go hungry?
How can our government waste so many taxpayer dollars for sting operations on small farms and food clubs yet allow Cargill to poison people for months?
One of the YouTube videos covering the Rawsome raid had reporters from Russia Today in the background. This event has been picked up by several international newspapers. Once again we will look like idiots to the rest of the world.
Dr. Rose is advocating for informed choice in my opinion. She made her choice to no longer support the farm she felt betrayed by (apologies if I'm not interpreting this right). I assume she gets her raw milk from another source.
Regarding the 2006 prison outbreak with ~1600 illnesses, how does that fit into the discussion? The prisoners had no choice. They drank contaminated pasteurized milk produced through the prison system; institutional milk that was not in commerce or sold to the general public. It's an important, but separate issue in dairy food safety.
This is exactly the sort of transparency that this movement needs. Farmers who make a mistake need to earn back the trust of their customers. It will make the movement stronger.
It is very hard for me to agree to open up my kilt to you….there is so much treason you have committed with the FDA and national veterinary associations. You have not defended raw milk and it's positive values. Instead you have become the Raw Milk Doctor that was used against us all. When there is nothing to hide there is nothing to hide. Everything we have done is 100% legal under CDFA and CA and USA law. Lets close this chapter.
Maurice….your words are worth really taking to heart. I agree so much with them. Nut cases and all. But, in a political struggle, the high road unites us all, the low road ponders details, divides, criticizes, fails to appreciate opportunity to teach….OPDC feeds all, nut cases, left, right, up, down, green, red, pink, yellow, rich, poor, black and white. All people's….equally. Political struggle is about big yet simple shared universal concepts….taught in short sound bites. To Teach we must seize the day…
All conscious humans love their children and desire health…even the nut cases and maybe the nut cases even more. Raw milk is an all American Nutritional Civil Rights Movement…it comes from our shared universal gut and heart… and desire for health and not the critical mind. Inside of every nut case, conspiracy theory, contrail fearing person is a real living human that wants health. Love all, feed all….
Your words this week are music. You are the master of sound bites! I wish I could do so well.
Little behind on TCP, but wanted to make sure CheeseSlave's blog was posted:
Maurice, your post is also music. Thank you!
David Gumpert, I love what you do for truth, freedom and journalism!
Mark, if you want to make this personal, fine. I am not going to take the bait or be positioned by words. I am as comprehensive and as general as they come. And when I speak when I am angry I intend to be heard. Something learned from Native Americans. Keep a sharp blade/arrow point so when you strike to kill you do so cleanly, quickly and cause the animal minimal pain.
I am not the one to claim that I and my business take the high road after slamming 3 people openly on a public blog who you claim to be united with in a political struggle.
If I truly feel that I am threatened by nutcases, I will defend myself. Any good sensei will tell you that.
Some of these "nutcases" you so admirably defend propagated and spread misinformation and got Sharon and Victoria into this mess to begin with.
I don't hate people. I don't hate illness or sickness. I hate the pain and the ignorance that illness or sickness causes.
Do not talk down to me or treat me in a condescending way.
And now that I am really pissed off…. do you want to learn something.????
Go to the your third paragraph, third sentence. Substitute the word "But" with "And" Reread the paragraph and how it sounds. To me, a paragraph that divides and fuels conflict suddenly becomes inclusive, thoughtful, and full of heart.
Substitute "and's" for "but's" God forbid!!!! Something that is uplifting and might actually bring people together.
Teach! Teach! Teach!
I found a petition at change.org , that is one small way to get our voices heard by Congress, (once the petition has enough signatures). The petitions name is the FDA vs The people of the United States of America and the web address is