There’s been some controversy these last two weeks about the raid of Rawesome Foods, a raw milk producer in Venice, California. On August 3, 2011, the LAPD, FDA, Department of Agriculture, and CDC performed what NaturalNews.com is describing as “a multi-agency SWAT-style armed raid,” where officials raided the building with guns drawn, as shown by live video tape. A separate group of agents also raided Healthy Family Farms, the supplier of all the dairy products for Rawesome.
Three people were arrested in all – James Stewart (owner of Rawesome), Sharon Palmer (owner of Healthy Family Farms), and Victoria Bloch (Weston A. Price Foundation’s liaison for L.A. county) – and one employee noted that roughly 500 gallons of raw milk were poured down the drain.
The Reason for the Raid
The raid stems from a long standing concern of the health safety issues surrounding raw milk. While 99 percent of the milk consumed in the United States is pasteurized, a large base of consumers argue in favor of the health benefits of raw. Many cite statistics that suggest raw milk, while in the past may have been unsafe, is actually safer than pasteurized milk. Dr. Gebhart of Wright State University argued in a speech that there are “1.9 cases of raw milk food poisoning per 100,000 people, vs. 4.7 cases of pasteurized milk food poisoning per people 100,000,” though questions were raised due to the much larger population of pasteurized milk drinkers, which may lead to an inflated average.
Dr. Joesph Mercola has also voiced strong concern of pasteurized milk, arguing that the nutritional value is diminished to a state he describes as “dead”. In many cases, he says, this may worsen health, not improve it. Regardless of what Mercola, Gebhart, and consumers think, though, raw milk – while legal to manufacture and sell with the right permits and licenses – is a very closely watched commodity, which is exactly what led to the arrests and raid.
Specifically, LAWeekly reported that the DA’s office released that, “…Stewart, Palmer & Bloch were arrested on criminal conspiracy charges stemming from the alleged illegal production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk, goat cheese, yogurt and kefir.” Allegedly, Rawesome Foods s0ld raw milk and other products to agents from the back of a Healthy Family Farms van in a parking lot at a grocery store.
In response to the raid, there has been an uproar in the public. Not only has a protest been staged, but NaturalNews.com also released the names of five agents involved, their numbers, emails, and government positions. They aim to start something like a grassroots lobbying campaign, where concerned citizens can get a hold of those who are acting as what Natural News describes as “tyrants”. Civility was strongly emphasized, though, by Natural News, as this is more of a lightening rod for consumer advocacy than violent upheaval of the status quo.
We’ll continue to add to this story as the case develops.
Changing the Way we Look at Milk
To some people, the protection and lobbying on behalf of milk may seem odd. But what this really comes down to is an issue of 1) understanding the real health risks and 2) a protection of individual liberty.
First, as Gebhart and Mercola – two trained medical professionals – have discovered, raw milk not only carries the benefits of natural nutrition (no vitamin D is added back in, as it would be with pasteurized milk), but it also comes with a reduced risk of disease. While the science is still a bit “out” on this one, some academic institutions are recognizing that although there have been cases of illness from raw milk, consumers are fervent in their support and there may be some good reasons to support raw, namely the ‘good’ bacteria that is found in it (University of Florida [consumer support], University of Colorado [argued health pros and cons]).
Most importantly, some say, is the fact that the consumers at Rawesome sign a waiver. These are Americans who understand the risk and choose to take it – just like one does when they buy a pack of cigarettes, which can exacerbate health to a point that makes one apart of the half million who die a year from smoking. Personally, while I see public benefit from government intervention at times, this seems to overstep what is both necessary and “right”.
Organic Soul will continue to add to this story as it develops.