The American government has launched a major new escalation in its campaign against food rights by arresting on criminal charges the manager of the private Rawesome Food Club in Venice, CA, a farmer who supplies the club, and her assistant.
The circumstances of the arrest, following on an investigation by California and federal officials involving purchases of raw dairy products by undercover agents who joined the club, sound eerily similar to the case brought last April against Amish farmer Daniel Allgyer. In that case, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials spent 13 months in an undercover investigation, in which FDA agents joined a Maryland food club under assumed names.
The California arrests, following on a new raid on Rawesome, come just 13 months after the same agencies launched a highly publicized raid on the food club. It re-opened the next day and has been operating since, fighting off efforts by the Los Angeles Building Dept. to shut it down.
Re-opening won’t be so easy this time around, since the club’s manager, James Stewart, is in jail, apparently being held on $125,000 bail.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said the three “were arrested today on criminal conspiracy charges stemming from the alleged illegal production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk, goat cheese and other products.”
“Sharon Ann Palmer, 51 (dob 04/14/1960), James Cecil Stewart, 64 (dob 07/26/1947) and Eugenie Victoria Bloch, 58 (03/17/1953) were charged in a 13-count complaint, BA 385253, which includes four conspiracy counts. Stewart and Bloch were expected to appear in Department 30 in the Foltz Criminal Justice Center Thursday for arraignment, said Deputy District Attorney Kelly Sakir of the District Attorney’s Environmental Law Section. Palmer’s arraignment hearing has not been set.
“Palmer owns Healthy Family Farms, LLC, in Santa Paula, which prosecutors allege has operated without any type of license or permit for milk production since 2007. The business Healthy Family Farms and Palmer are charged in nine of the 13 counts. Bloch works for Palmer and is charged in three conspiracy counts.
“Stewart runs the Venice market Rawesome, which has been in operation for more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license, prosecutors allege. Stewart is facing 13 counts.
“During a year-long investigation, investigators made undercover purchases of unpasteurized dairy products from Healthy Family Farms stands at Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara county farmers markets and at Rawesome. The products included unpasteurized goat milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir.
The investigation found that Healthy Family Farms and Rawesome customers were required to pay a membership fee of up to $50, or purchase a one-time ‘day pass’ at Rawesome to purchase products there. Bloch reportedly informed undercover operatives that the membership payments and paperwork were needed for ‘legal’ reasons, and they were not supposed to sell dairy products to nonmembers.”
And if you doubt this latest escalation wasn’t well coordinated among American government agencies, consider this from the D.A.’s press release: “Agencies taking part in the ongoing investigation include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; the California Franchise Tax Board; the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch and the department’s Division of Measurement Standards; the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office; the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the Ventura County Department of Public Health; the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.” How many is that? Eight, nine? I’m rushing here to catch a plane…
It’s more clear than ever that FDA officials are leading an expanding national effort to smash private food organizations committed to obtaining nutrient-dense foods for their members.