Venice, California –August 6th 2011– In a time of great economic turmoil, the Federal Government has again chosen to spend the tax dollars of the people by focusing attention on and strong arming Organic Food Buying clubs.
For the second time in a year, Rawesome Foods in Venice California (a private, members only, food co-op) was raided. Owner James Stewart was taken in handcuffs and held on a felony offense. 2 others (Sharon Palmer and Victoria Blcoh) were arrested, all on criminal conspiracy charges stemming from “the alleged illegal production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk, goat cheese and other products.”
Weapons drawn and security cameras disabled
Although the warrant for the raid clearly stated “various samples of any food products present may be taken for laboratory analysis”, authorities illegally seized and dumped hundreds of gallons of raw milk and wiped out entire shelves and stock of other products.
Authorities conducted the raid with weapons drawn and disabled security cameras to seemingly hide infractions during the raid.
No health issues nor complaints have ever been filed against the club, and raw milk is legal in California. The issue stems from members of the club entering into a “herdshare arrangement” in which they paid a local farmer to board and milk their dairy goats. California authorities deny the legal legitimacy of herdshare arrangements, stating that such herdshares are unlicensed dairies.
Although in other cases, herdshares have been given non-judicial cease-and-desist orders, in this case, those involved were arrested with bail set at between $60,000 and $123,000 and without the option of using bail bonds.
The over excessive use of force, and the exuberant sums of the initial bonds drew the ire of many club members and local residents. Hundreds gathered at the courthouse the day after and global outrage ensued after word spread via social networks and message boards.
After hearing the entire story, an L.A. county judge reduced James Stewarts bail from $123,000 to $30,000 and Victoria Bloch and were released.
Sad Day in America
Although there has been small victories for Rawesome after the initial raid, its left members and the community shaken up and saddened.
Rawesome food supporter Jeri Rice states: “There is so much going on in this world right now, that to stop Americans from being able to buy food from a small organic grocery next door is the biggest crime there is…” Another member and concerned mother states: It’s very disappointing that in the United States, and especially in California, that I cant feed my family the basic foods that God made and provides…”
Raw Grassfed milk and products (which have been produced and consumed safely for thousands of years) have been shown to help combat allergies, gastro intestinal disorders, build the immune system and have helped children with autism and Asperger syndrome. These positive benefits are not found in pasteurized milk, which in fact can cause many of the symptoms listed. This makes raw milk a very popular and crucial part in a mothers’ dietary planning for their children and family.
This is not just a case and situation that pertains only to raw milk drinkers and organic food buyers. This is a blatant case in point of federal government abusing its power and authority. If the federal government is allowed to convene in this manner, what’s next?
For a list of previous Government Raids on Small Farms and Organic food buying clubs- Click here.
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