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Rawesome Foods Raid: The Insanity of the U.S. Legal System


For the last several years, there’s been a big stir in the news about raids on raw dairy farmers.  On August 3rd, 2011 the latest raid at gunpoint conducted by the L.A. Sheriff’s office, the CDC, and the FDA occurred on the premises of Rawesome Foods, a buyer’s club in Venice, CA.

The picture at the left is a still from a video taken showing an FBI agent raiding Rawesome Foods in Venice, CA from June of 2010. This is the second time this business has been raided by federal agents.

This is just another brick in the wall of our loss of rights to purchase clean, healthy foods that are not adulterated by the industrial food industry.

The raids and arrests of private citizens that occurred this past week on the Rawesome premises – and also on farms all over the country – are above and beyond the jurisdiction of the law.  These types of maneuvers are commonly associated with the production and selling of dangerous controlled substances, not organic food.  The choice we have as citizens to purchase and eat the foods we want to put in our bodies should be our right, and no government agency should be allowed to take that choice away from us.

Rawesome is a private buyer’s club and has legally binding, contractual agreements permitting them to sell to buyers who have chosen to buy organic food and raw milk. One of the main issues surrounding this case is the herdshare or boarding contracts for dairy goats, and this is not the first time dairy goat farmers in the state of CA have experienced this issue.

Federal agents confiscated $10,000 worth of raw milk and $30-40K of produce. They also destroyed property and buildings in the process. And yet, this business is a private entity which sells shares to members, so these individuals who are purchasing food from Rawesome are all owners. Yes, owners. They don’t need permits to pick up their own food that they have contracted and paid to take away. It is ridiculous and unacceptable that business owners should be jailed and have their private property and products confiscated and destroyed.

Watch this video showing the loss Rawesome incurred during this raid:

The FBI also took all the cash on the premises, which totalled over $9,000:

The fact that the buyer’s contract, which was legally binding, has suddenly been declared void by the very government which approved it in the first place is a big issue. According to the law, lacking permits is a misdemeanor, not a felony. When wrongful prosecution and miscarriage of justice happens, it puts the entire foundation of our legal and economic system in jeopardy, and this is something all citizens should be up in arms about. The way our government, which is supposed to be following laws created by the people for the people,  has been conducting itself over these matters has got to stop.

It’s also important to note that no one in this incident has become sick or died from eating foods sold from Rawesome Foods.  This year, Cargill, a multi-national conglomerate company recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey from store shelves. 76 people were sickened back in March of this year (2011) and one person died, and yet the recalls didn’t occur until July. So far, the only thing happening is a “lengthy” investigation, but no government raids.

How is it that any company selling a product proven to contain Salmonella is allowed to continue selling it for any length of time and not have their doors closed? This kind of thing has been occurring over, and over, and over again in the industrial food sector. Yet, none of these companies are out of business nor facing prosecution in court.  Ironically, mainstream health sources and supporters of the U.S.  food system proudly proclaim that our food supply is one of the safest in the world.

Please watch this interview on MSNBC with Organic Pastures Mark McAfee. Mark McAfee has operated the largest raw, organic, grass-fed dairy in the nation for 10 years, and has never had a pathogenic issue during that span of time. Thousands and thousands of willing and satisfied customers have supported his business and provided their families with wholesome, clean food because Mark cares about delivering a safe and nutritious product to his customers.

If you would like to take action and do something about this situation, please check out the following links:

Real Food Rights

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Farmageddon – director/producer Kristy Canty is a sustainable farm advocate and a mother who wants to make a difference in the future of sustainable family farms

Send your letters of complaints to these entities, a list complied on Sandrine Hahn’s Nourishing Our Children Facebook page.
Join the social media revolt over the government raids and make your voice heard!
Government data proves raw milk is safe – The Healthy Home Economist
Why our family chooses raw over pasteurized milk – Agriculture Society

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Real Food Toxin Alert!

The Egg Recall and Why Local Isn't Necessarily Better


I’ve already written about food recalls a number of times, but the point about finding sustainable food is one that I find must be revisited often…because there are so many misconceptions going around about why simply avoiding one brand over another is not enough.

And I’ll also tell you why it’s really important to know your farmer and what practices he or she uses to raise the chickens that lay the eggs you are going to eat.

Read the conversation that convinced me to write this post:

Last week, someone in my family (who shall go nameless to keep the peace, and he never reads my blog anyway) called and asked me about eggs. He wanted to know where I buy my eggs. I replied that I buy them from the Capital City Public Market (in downtown Boise, ID) farmer’s market from a farmer from Payette, ID (it’s about 60 miles away from where I live in Boise). The farm is Matthew’s All Natural Meats.

Then he asked about another egg supplier, a company that’s been around since I was a child, or maybe longer. I have a distinct recollection of going there and seeing closed-in hen houses where the chickens were confined, and the odor I noticed from this business when I got out of the car was definitely strong of excrement. I replied that I wouldn’t buy my eggs there, and I asked him if he wanted to know why.

His reply: “no, this place is local and that’s good enough for me and my wife.”

To clarify, I asked, “so you don’t care if the chickens at this local hatchery are raised in the same way as the ones in the recall?”

“No.” He said.

So while it’s true: all these eggs are sourced back to Iowa farms Wright County Egg and from Hillandale Farms, owned by Austin DeCoster (who is, by the way, a known offender of safety and environmental regulations), you might be thinking:

“But I don’t live anywhere near Iowa, and the eggs I buy are from another source entirely. How could I get sick from eating those eggs?”

Just because you are buying eggs from some other supplier that wasn’t mentioned on the recall list or even buying foods locally, it does not mean you are going to be assured of a safe, healthy product that won’t make you sick.

Those eggs from the recent recall were recalled because of the farming practices used on those chicken farms – chickens crammed together in close quarters, pooping all over each other, getting diseases and being administered antibiotics, feed  covered in chemicals and pesticides (and from genetically-modified sources). That’s where salmonella contamination comes from. Those birds are not allowed to roam around out in the open and eat bugs, worms, and have access to the outdoors and sunshine.

Buying eggs from farmers who raise their chickens sustainably will guarantee you will not have eggs from diseased and sick birds. It’s always a good idea to know the farmer or call him or her at the very least, and ask about the practices they use.

What does sustainable really mean?

Are the birds out in the open, on grass, eating bugs and dirt, and being exposed to sunshine? That’s what chickens are supposed to do, by the way. It’s what nature intended. Are the chickens free from antibiotics, chemicals, and other toxic substances? Chances are, a smaller operation and farm will be much more likely to care about the relationships they have with customers and to make sure their birds are raised in healthy and sanitary conditions. Most small-time operations have a reputation to protect, and they are not going to put it on the line by not keeping their practices clean. Plus, many of those small farmers believe in the principles of animal and bird stewardship and want to produce a healthy and sustainable product.

And you might pay more for a dozen eggs from a local, sustainable farm. But compare that to the cost of getting sick from salmonella and having to miss work or school, and a trip to the E.R. It’s also the case that eggs from healthy hens on pasture have more nutrients in them because unlike their conventional counterparts, healthy birds on pasture and out in the open are exposed to the sunshine and outdoors (think Vitamin A, D, E, and K), a better balance of Omega 3s to 6s, and up to five times the amount of conjugated linoleic acid – a known antioxidant and nutrient important for many aspects of health including the cardiovascular system. Now that makes financial sense.

There is something else you need to be aware of: the media, food safety officials, nor mainstream health or medical sources will never tell you this information because to do so would compromise the safety regulations and laws that are already in place, and it would uncover a vast number of other farms guilty of the same violations. That would make government entities and businesses look bad. It might also, just maybe, alert the public to what’s been going on in the food industry for decades and decades, start a revolt, and cause those companies to have to change their practices or be shut down. But then again, I think I might just be living in a dream world.

Those companies are huge, profitable, and POWERFUL. They’ll stop at nothing to maintain that status, and everyone in those industries and government positions knows each other, works together, and protects each other. Is it starting to make sense now as to why these operations are allowed to continue on their merry way of selling toxic food and food products to the public? Most of the time, those companies get a slap on the hand at the very worst – a fine, or something of that nature, which is easily absorbed by a big corporation.

And the safety standards? Well, it might be interesting to know that those farms who produced the recalled eggs were only required to adhere to them on a “voluntary” basis. So much for following “the law”.  And guess what? Most of the eggs on the market come from premises like these. So even though the carton your eggs come in might say, “cage-free” or “all-natural”, those eggs are still likely from unhealthy chickens in confinement. Marketing terms and lingo are very tricky that way, and lead consumers to believe they are getting something good, when in fact, they probably are not.

The same goes for any food item on a recall list. More and more you will see these recalls happening, and more and more it is going to be critical for consumers to be aware of why these foods are being recalled…despite food safety regulation laws, despite government laws being stepped up and protocols becoming more strict. Creating more laws and stricter regulations simply won’t prevent what has been occurring from occurring again in the future.

Consumer and farmer habits can change the future

The only thing that will change this onslaught of low-quality foods being mass produced and continuing to be recalled is awareness and activism on the part of farmers and consumers to produce sustainable foods and to buy them and support only those farmers and food growers adhering to those strict standards. It may sound strange or even impossible, but it’s the whole truth. If you think most food recalls aren’t from industrial and conventional sources, just look up any food recall and see where it’s sourced. If nothing else, that alone should convince you.

Here are just a few of the recalls in the recent past (and note, ALL sources are conventional and industrial):

Although not all of these companies are as large as companies like Tyson and Cargill (note, both of these companies are included in these recall articles), they all have something in commonindustrial farming practices are used in growing their food. And therein lies the problem.

So, please, please, please, don’t just keep buying the same foods (Heaven forbid!), or go over to some other brand that you know nothing about. Because chances are, you’ll just end up buying another carton of eggs, or another package of meat, or another bag of produce from a conventional source where the food is produced or raised in a similar way to the Iowa farm eggs – in closed in hen houses and in the most filthy, abominable conditions possible. In the case of produce, most of these foods are being contaminated by run-off water and other similar situations from factory farms where E.coli or salmonella are an issue (again, confinement facilities for animals) .Make it a point to learn about where your food comes from, know your farmer, and by all means, do support local – just make sure it’s sustainable.

More reasons to buy sustainable?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Fortified and processed foods: are label claims about nutrition true?

Huge FDA recall of 10,000 products – another wakeup call to avoid processed foods!