Public Outraged over Armed Raid of Food Co-op

August 9, 2011
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raw-milkFederal and state teams arrest people at gunpoint, destroy food, and seize assets—all because they’re afraid of unpasteurized milk and cheese. Please don’t let them trample the Constitution this way—a new Action Alert!

On August 2, there was an armed raid on Rawesome Foods in Venice, California, conducted jointly by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the FDA, the Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may recall that we reported about a similar FDA raid on the same co-op last year.

Mike Adams, editor of, broke the story last week, and we thank him for his excellent and continuing coverage of this issue. He reports that armed teams were deployed with guns drawn, law enforcement ordered all co-op members out of the store, seized all the cash in the register, then handcuffed the co-op’s founder, James Stewart, and placed him in an unmarked car without reading him hist rights.

Then authorities seized $70,000 in raw organic food—raw milk, cheese, yogurt, and fresh produce—and poured an estimated 800 gallons of milk down the drain, though there was no evidence that any of the products were contaminated.

Two others were arrested as well: Sharon Palmer, owner of Healthy Family Farms, and Victoria Bloch, the LA County liaison for the Weston A. Price Foundation. They were charged with the production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk, goat cheese, and other products without the proper permit; and with “mislabeling cheese.” They were also charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit a crime.

Unpasteurized dairy products are legal in California, but the Los Angeles District Attorney says that applicable licenses and permits are required. This is a specious claim. As Mike Adams points out, Rawesome does not need a license because it is not a public store, but rather a private club or co-op whose members actually own a percentage of the cows, goats, and farms that produce the raw dairy. The state of California is trying to regulate it as a public grocery store, when it is instead a private buyers’ club. The facility is used only as a distribution point for the products that the members already own.

All three of those arrested have been released from jail after posting bail, but only on condition that they give up their First Amendment rights and refrain from talking to anyone about the case—specifically, from communicating in any way, verbally or nonverbally, about the government raids conducted against them.

The public has responded with outrage. A public protest was held in front of the LA County Courthouse; this, together with the global attention the raid has caused, may have been responsible for the swift reduction in James Stewart’s bail—from $123,000 down to $30,000.

Bye-bye, Constitutional Rights?

The raid places a spotlight on the constitutional right of bodily autonomy. Do we have the right to decide what we eat? As the Supreme Court observed more than a century ago, “No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law.” And Justice Cardozo wrote in 1914, “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.”

The FDA’s position is that people do not have the constitutional right to eat what they want. In response to a lawsuit by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense (FCLD) Fund, the FDA made the following outrageous statements:

  • “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a new ‘fundamental right’ to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law.
  • “There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”
  • “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families,’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”

However, the US Constitution restricts the government from infringing on the rights of the people—so controlling what people eat, even through legislation, is an overreach of government power. In addition, it can be argued that health freedom—and the right to eat what we wish—is embedded in the ideas of privacy and personal autonomy protected by the 14th Amendment.

Government and Big Food

FDA justifies its actions from a food safety perspective. But virtually any food can contain harmful pathogens. In fact, you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other (FDA-protected) foods than you are from raw milk. Raw milk has been conclusively shown to be both safe and healthy.

The truth is, the FDA and other federal agencies are being motivated by the interests of Big Food—and in this case, the interests of the dairy industry. Once again, we see crony capitalism at work. The USDA has an entire marketing arm called Diary Management that actively pushes the sale of pasteurized cheese and milk.

This is merely the latest skirmish in the FDA’s long war against raw milk producers and small business owners. ANH-USA is working on a legislative approach that will buttress a right to health freedom, but for now, please read our new Action Alert. Congressman Ron Paul’s HR 1830 would authorize the interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk and milk products packaged for direct human consumption. Please contact your representative and senators today!


Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not Congress.

74 Responses to “Public Outraged over Armed Raid of Food Co-op”

  1. Pamela Mayer says:

    I believe some have missed a huge point. Why did the FDA raid this place with guns? WTH? They were not selling dreaded Hemp Milk for crying outloud. Guns? OMG this country is falling faster than we can keep up.


  2. Tomasa Schnitman says:

    good website!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned.


  3. Leon says:

    This is such an important subject our health is under attack I recently started a blog and happily linked to this article. We are trying to build an audience so anyone who has time please check us out


  4. Richard Blake says:

    It’s ironic. The FDA began as a government organization designed to protect people from unsafe business practices. Somewhere over the last 100 years, it became an organization that protects businesses from scientists who question biased research and from people who offer healthy, natural alternatives to Big Pharma and Big Agri. It sanctions unsafe and unhealthy products. It authorizes egregiously unconstitutional raids like the ones at Rawesome Foods. It’s a front for corporate organized crime.

    Ever since 9/11, our constitutional rights have been mangled and adulterated. If we had more news organizations that weren’t so subservient to these corporate giants and hidden agendas, more people might realize what’s happening to them. They might wake up.


    • Wanderingi says:

      This is the direct consequence of the revolving door between corporate management, and government agencies. the FDA has no public servants in control of the agency


  5. Ogre says:

    If you are a (non commercial) producer, make it clear that the wholesome things that you may make available to your friends are NOT available to ANYONE who works for the gov’t. This also includes information. This is why it is so important that Codex NOT be implemented here. If it is, i won’t be able to provide the “stuff” that I may gather in the wild to my friends without breaking the law even if I charge them nothing.

    I think perhaps the roadside stand will have a lock on it next year.


  6. Helga Daniel says:

    What an outrage! Considering how many outright poisons the FDA supports under the guise of medication, what right do they have to invade privately owned land where hord- working people are producing food for their own use, and destroying perfectly -good milk! What will be next, destruction of co-ops that grow organic vegetables? It looks like the FDA has become the protector of big pharma and not guardian for of We, the people. It is amazing what they are getting away with.


  7. Hello everyone,
    Enjoyed reading all your good and excellent comments. I absolutely agree with all of you in this fight to keep raw milk from going under. In my opinion, I think the FDA should be sighted for their stupidity and wrongness for taking away our right to eat and drink what we want for health reasons, and for trying to take away our right to take supplements to help us from getting sick and to keep us healthy. THE FDA JUST MAKES ME SICK, SOMETIMES I JUST WISH THEY DID NOT EXIST, They just do not understand what good unadulterated healthy food is and the reason why most of us take unadulterated whole food supplements and herbals. I really think the FDA, CDC, and big Pharma want us to be sick, so that we can dance in their hog trough sort of speak, well, they got another guest coming, cause all of us fighting for health freedoms will keep on fighting this good fight until we can wear these idiots down. I for one will not dance in their hog trough and take their dirty little deals lying down, I will do all I can to keep our health freedoms free as possible and keep this fight going. As this song says, WE AS AMERICANS ARE CHAMPIONS. WE ALL NEED TO STAY STRONG IN THIS FIGHT!!!!! DON’T EVER GIVE UP, NO MATTER WHAT. WE CAN WIN THIS BATTLE IN THE LONG RUN. I am a really big advocate of holistic and natural health and faithfully believe in doing things the all natural way. I also knew about this armed raid of the food co-ops from listening to Jonathan Emourd, ( on coast to coast am with show host George Noury this past Wed.) a lawyer that sticks up for organic foods and supplements, and explained the situation. Just makes me sick and disgusted what the FDA is doing in the name of health freedoms. That is my rant for now, like I mentioned, keep on fighting folks, keep on fighting. Everyone, take care and be in good holistic health,
    Michelle r. Taylor


  8. Elsie says:

    This makes me sick. we nurse our babies because its healthy and they grow strong so here are Goats and cows giving good milk and the FDA makes rules that makes it unhealthy to even drink.
    My son-in-law drank milk,got a fungus The Doctor said stop drinking milk and he got well?
    Also,How can we change things? It s all a money issue .other countries have done their testing ;but we still cannot use it here Why? years go by and our people die because of it.
    Just does not make sense.
    They raided the milk place just like they did some alternative doctors years ago and probably still do?
    Its just not right.


  9. Donna Sewell says:

    I’m a naturalized citizen who grew up in Canada, and I can remember when they changed from raw to pasteurized milk. I didn’t like it nearly as much, but my allergies and congestion didn’t really take hold until they started homogenizing it as well. (I may be wrong, but I think in the USA pasteurization and homogenization may have begun at the same time.) Anyway, these days, the only way to get non-homogenized milk is to find raw milk. In addition to fighting for the right to have raw milk, I”d like to see someone petition against the Dairy Industry for homogenizing milk. My brother is a bio-chemist, and he told me that the chemical properties of milk are so changed by homogenization, that chemically speaking, it is no longer milk. Once again, we’re trying to please the ease and doing harm to the body in the process. I was even told recently that researchers are finding that there’s something in raw cow’s milk that may prevent or even cure Parkinson’s Disease. (I have to wonder if Big Pharma knows this and are really trying to take over the raw milk instead of taking it down. It’ll be interesting to see.)


  10. Holland,Dianne says:

    Americans need to be granted the right to vote for director of FDA. Mercola would be a good start.


  11. RD Ellsworth says:

    I went 18 years on raw milk with no ill effects. Have hardly touched milk since because it is now so adulterated it’s not fit for human consumption. Bring back the real stuff.


  12. Jason says:

    Rusty Nails can cause tetanus, does this mean we should be forced by law to never walk outside barefoot, instead shouldn’t the emphasis be on keeping the nails out of the street to begin with? I for one prefer shoes, but the argument that people can get sick is simply not merited. People are getting sick by drinking milk that isn’t RAW. I cannot drink any other type of milk and not be sick.


  13. Jennifer Powell says:

    I was raised on raw goat milk and my mom sold raw milk and eggs straight off the farm for years. We sold the milk as ‘pet food’ because of the FDA regulations of having to operate a grade B dairy in order to sell milk. This was unattainable due to cost. We did test our herd regularly for TB and NEVER had a positive test! We maintained a clean an sterile process with out pasteurization. My family and 100s of others have raised their children on raw goat milk. I in fact weaned own daughter from breast milk onto goat milk from a goat a got from my mom and milked myself. I milked, strained and drank it. I never got sick and my daughter and I never get ill! I also know of many people who came to my mother’s farm seeking the milk for children with lactose problems, open stomach valves, stomach/intestinal caner, ulcers and many other ailments. They all were healed by simply drinking the milk. I think people have become uneducated and have forgotten that their grandparents lived quite well with unpasteurized milk and that many of the milk-transmitted diseases have been contained.

    I believe that my family should have the right to raise our own uncontaminated food, (milk, eggs, cheese, veggies, fruit, beef) without government interference!


  14. These people need to attack this on two fronts – first is jurisdiction. Did they operate this club on federal land? Or was the land ceeded to the federal government? If not, then the feds were outside their jurisdiction and everyone of the federal officers that participated in the raid can be sued in their personal capacity since they were operating under “color of law” and NOT the law.

    Second, was the club participating “in commerce” – that is, were they packging goods to be sold accross state lines? If not, then again the feds were out of line since anything that happens inside a states borders is in the perview of the state government and not the fed.

    So, I would bet that a good lawyer worth his fee could get this thrown out at the very least based on jurisdiction alone. And maybe he might even be able to get damages out of Uncle Sam for being the bully in this situation. Heck, if he/she is really good, they might even get an injunction against the FDA keeping tem from doing this kind of stupid, over-reaching activity again…

    Of course that’s JMHO…


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