Police Raid Raw Milk Producers

The food police are at it again – this time shifting their sights from school kids trying to sell lemonade from neighborhood stands, to grown-ups offering to provide raw or unpasteurized milk to willing consumers.  Raw milk is preferred by some consumers because of its richer and more natural flavor – but if you want to try it, you’d best be prepared to be the target of an armed police raid.  

In the latest example of raw police power, Rawesome Foods, a members-only health food store in Venice, California that specializes in raw milk and organic foods, recently was the target of just such a SWAT-style raid; this followed a year-long investigation by federal, state, and local authorities. 

According to a video about the raid from Reason.tv (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MVwdv5HBVQ), the agents destroyed all the raw milk in stock at the store and carted off thousands of dollars in produce. 

James Stewart, the owner of the store, was arrested during the raid and faces numerous criminal charges, including conspiracy, processing milk without pasteurization, and operating an unlicensed milk plant. His supplier, Sharon Palmer who owns Healthy Family Farms, was arrested in a separate raid. 

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which is orchestrating the crack down on production and sale of raw milk, contends that Stewart had been running Rawesome for “more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license.” Stewart argues that since Rawesome is open only to private members and not the general public, he does not need a business license. 

During the lengthy investigation, conducted with all the careful planning of a raid on a major terrorist cell, undercover agents purchased “unpasteurized dairy products from Healthy Family Farms stands at Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara county farmers markets and at Rawesome.” 

Rawesome has been targeted by authorities before. In June 2010, agents raided the store, guns drawn, looking for raw dairy products. The Los Angeles Times noted shortly after the raid that agents took “[c]artons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese.” 

Unfortunately, this police practice is not an uncommon occurrence, even in Georgia, which also bans the sale and distribution of raw milk. In 2009, for example, raw milk owned by an Athens-area farmer was destroyed by Georgia Department of Agriculture officials.  Georgia State Rep. Doug McKillip (R-Athens) and the late Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) introduced separate bills in recent legislative sessions to legalize sales of the product.  However, legislation permitting consumers the option of consuming raw milk has not yet garnered sufficient support for passage through the legislature.  

From the east coast to the west, state governments not only remain dedicated to limiting what products consumers may choose to eat and drink, but with mounting fervor, are imposing criminal sanctions on those who might dare to disagree with decisions of the food police. 

By Bob Barr – The Barr Code

72 comments Add your comment

Last

August 10th, 2011
6:54 am

Lastly, first.

“…..careful planning of a raid on a major terrorist cell….”,

Is that because there were Kurds involved? (Curds and Whey). And don’t forget the minor point, and I hesitate to even bring it up at all, but if you would so kindly indulge me just this one point, and that point is the incredible variety and sheer numbers of pathogens in raw milk which are linked to an incredible number and variety of human diseases.

‘muff(et) said.

godless heathen

August 10th, 2011
7:12 am

Last: How did human’s ever survive in the old days with the sheer numbers of pathogens in raw milk which are linked to an incredible number and variety of human diseases?

To paraphrase Edna St Vincent Millay:

It’s not freedom’s going that pains my days,
but that it went in such little ways.

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caslosgvv

August 10th, 2011
7:49 am

People are being robbed, beaten, raped and murdered. Illegal drugs and immigrants are everywhere. But, take heart!! The really important things that threaten us, like illegal lemonade stands and unpasteurized milk, are getting the full police attention they deserve.

TennesseeDawg

August 10th, 2011
8:26 am

Hey Last, people were drinking milk long before pasteurization. Nothing wrong with this as long as it’s a members only group.

Buzz G

August 10th, 2011
8:46 am

I know just one more cut we can make to achieve a balanced budget.

John K

August 10th, 2011
9:00 am

Once in a while Barr makes some sense. Just hard to take seriously the guy who sued Clinton for emotional distress.

JS

August 10th, 2011
9:02 am

Enter your comments here

John

August 10th, 2011
9:04 am

Just more government regulation and overreach. Who cares is people want to sell raw milk with all the pathogens or China wanted to sell lead based painted toys to American children. Get government out of the way and let business sell whatever they want.

Karl Marx

August 10th, 2011
9:10 am

Hey, I think I can sue for Physical Distress. I get sick to my stomach every time I see a picture of Hillary.

FarmerRob

August 10th, 2011
9:10 am

Bob, thanks for the article on this issue. I would like to point out that the taste of the milk is not the primary reason that people who prefer raw milk make that choice. The main reason is for health reasons. @Last trumpets the government’s knee-jerk response. Apparently they can’t be bothered to actually research the subject. Although anyone who wants to find out the truth can do so at: http://www.westonaprice.org

I recently read a post on a prominent forum that deals with every manner of homesteading and farming subjects. On the topic of raw milk one poster who lives in one of the largest communities of Amish in the country (over 40,000) said that he had talked to a nurse at the public health clinic and had ask how many cases of illness she had seen related to raw milk in the time she had been there. She said that in over a decade she had seen NONE. (The Amish DO NOT pasteurize their milk.) When asked if the Amish used the clinic much she said that to the surprise of many they made extensive use of the free services afforded by the clinic. It is the first place they turn when they need medical assistance (barring a major emergency room type of accident or malady.) If @Last point was valid there should have been a significant number of illnesses or even deaths. Fact is if the milking is done in a sanitary manner and the milk handled in a sanitary manner (not difficult to do in either case,) the risk is virtually non-existent. As others have pointed out we have survived thousands of years of milk drinking without pasteurization or homogenization.

BTW the only way you can purchase raw milk in Georgia is to buy it for your pet. It must be labeled that it is for pet consumption.

Oh yeah, if you think pasteurization is bad (and it really is,) wait until you read about what homogenizing it does to it and to you. You will find that also at the Weston Price Foundation mentioned above.

Dr. Pangloss

August 10th, 2011
9:19 am

Not a civil liberties issue, but Web MD says:

“Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods made from raw milk” to avoid food poisoning.

How did people survive before pasteurization? Often they didn’t. This was probably one reason for the high rate of infant and childhood mortality up until modern times.

Atlmom

August 10th, 2011
9:22 am

Last: as long as it’s labeled properly, why shouldn’t consumers be allowed to buy it?

Grits

August 10th, 2011
9:22 am

The Gestapo is alive and well!

hd

August 10th, 2011
9:27 am

Glad you picked this up Bob. People can take their lives in their own hands all the time: sky diving, smoking, drinking, driving in Atlanta, etc., but they can’t drink unpasteurized milk? Give me a break.

Chuck

August 10th, 2011
9:34 am

Bob,

Looking at your political record, you have a minor part in our current “police state”. You seem to make sense these days but it makes me wonder if you have a ghost writer for your blog or if you were possessed by a demon during your 8 years in office. While this milk situation was obviously overblown, I do understand the reason that raw milk has been banned and very few seem to care about reversing that.

Bubba

August 10th, 2011
9:52 am

I’m confused — isn’t Barr the guy who thinks the government should keep terminal cancer patients from smoking marijuana?

Darwin

August 10th, 2011
9:53 am

bob – You think maybe the dairy industry has some clout on something like this? Ah, no way, right!? How many times did you and the political establishment vote to support dairy prices and their industry?

blacksheep

August 10th, 2011
9:54 am

Yeah, the hell with food safety and all that nonsense.

jconservative

August 10th, 2011
9:54 am

I grew up on raw milk just out of the cow.

I am still here.

But I would not go buy it from someone in the business to make a buck. The profit motive in a lot of cases leads to shortcuts.

PresObozo

August 10th, 2011
10:02 am

Just like I told the folks at S&P…let’s just all stay calm and not get so upset over a little spilt milk.

Cathy Wragg

August 10th, 2011
10:04 am

For those who cannot understand what this has to do with economics, you must understand that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) simply cannot compete with grassfed raw milk farms, and therefore stand to lose a lot of money as raw milk becomes increasingly popular.

They cannot compete because in order for milk to be safely consumed raw, it should come from cows fed a forage based diet that includes pasture. It’s true Confined Animal Feeding Operations -derived milk should not be consumed raw given the elevated risk of hazardous pathogens in their milk—an inevitable side effect of the environment in which these cows are raised.

The reason why they’re trying to shut down raw milk farmers is because so many people consume raw milk and raw milk dairy products, and the numbers are growing every year. One 2008 survey conducted by the CDC found there were over nine million raw milk drinkers in the US, and today, the number of raw milk consumers is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 12-13 million. When you consider that each family can consume a few gallons of milk per week, it all starts adding up, and Big Dairy is losing business.

Nine-tenths of all laws are no longer the product of our elected representatives; they are created by the unelected heads of the bureaucratic agencies. Those agency heads are unaccountable to the courts, the Congress, and the American people. One such agency that engages in this unconstitutional governance is the Food and Drug Administration. It is the action of that agency that we examine today, because it offends the very foundation of liberty of our Republic.”

In short, we as Americans have failed to keep our eyes on the ball. We grew complacent; lulled into non-action and non-participation by the illusion that “Government is taking care of our needs.”

Meanwhile, our rights to life, liberty and freedom have eroded away, and this is the end result: An agency of the government, paid for by your tax dollars and the drug industry, claims you have no inherent human right to eat any particular food. Yes. That’s not a misinterpretation. They now declared that this is exactly their position, and it’s written in black and white…

kar

August 10th, 2011
10:06 am

g heathen, the answer is, they largely didn’t.

High Infant Mortality, low expected lifespan. In other words:

Nasty Brutish and Short

roughrider

August 10th, 2011
10:08 am

Even in repressive countries like China and Russia, people can sell lemmonade and raw milk without the police harrassment.

My Two Cents

August 10th, 2011
10:15 am

The milk issue has more to do with the dairy industry and their lobbyists. It also has to do with power and control. In the meantime our economy is in shambles and no one cares about fixing that! The limited resources should be used to catch the criminal elements not kids with lemonade stands or raw milk distributors who are easy targets.

Elizabeth

August 10th, 2011
10:22 am

No the issue is not with the dairy industry, it is with the bacteria that is destroyed with the pasteurization process. Raw milk can contain numerous types of bacteria, not limited to Listeria monocytogenes. Exposure to Listeria monocytogenes leads to encephalitis and sepsis in the elderly and immunocompromised persons and spontaneous abortion in pregnant women.

Ezra

August 10th, 2011
10:36 am

Raw milk laws are another example of sympathy laws. “Oh my child got sick and died from drinking raw milk they should pass a law”, poor victims mother. Of course he was the only one in a million. How about peanuts! Some children will die or get very sick over peanuts. Let Georgia pass a law banning the consumption of peanuts.

shaggy

August 10th, 2011
10:36 am

We must arrest and prosecute all cows for making this dangerous substance. It can’t be tolerated in a civilized society. These bovines

shaggy

August 10th, 2011
10:38 am

We must arrest and prosecute all cows for making this dangerous substance. It can’t be tolerated in a civilized society. These bovines probably belong to a secret terrorist organization, like those you see on the billboards…I just don’t trust them anymore. Confiscate their resources and put them through pat down searches at all airports.

Ezra

August 10th, 2011
10:40 am

Elizabeth

August 10th, 2011
10:22 am
Compare that to those who get sick over peanut allergies. Do we have a medicine in modern times to cure the problem of encephalitis and sepsis. The abortion thing is a problem it could lead to the closing of planned parenthood.

Michael

August 10th, 2011
10:42 am

The police will raid the business of this raw milk producer, but when seven people die as a result of the Peanut Corporation of America producing tainted peanut butter no one gets busted. The CEO of this company is still a free man today.

[...] Post By Google News Click Here For The Entire Article August 10th, 2011 | Category: Green [...]

Ezra

August 10th, 2011
10:53 am

So all these illnesses caused by raw milk modern medicine can not cure?

Hmmmm

August 10th, 2011
11:11 am

“Last: How did human’s ever survive in the old days with the sheer numbers of pathogens in raw milk which are linked to an incredible number and variety of human diseases?”

I guess that whole increased life span that people yammer about has absolutely nothing to do with that. If you wanna legalize raw milk and stuff, then you may wanna consider lowering the SS age. Private people doing things for themselves is one thing. They will be careful to ensure their safety. A company out to make a buck might not be so careful with your health. Regardless to whether you live or not, they’ve made their money soon as you purchase their product.

Soothsayer

August 10th, 2011
12:50 pm

For once we agree on something, Bob. My Father (and the rest of the family) drank milk from the family cow all of his early life (before joining the service). They ate eggs from the family hens. They ate meat they slaughtered and preserved themselves. My Father is 87 years old.

I think Cathy Wragg’s post really boils the whole issue down to its essence.

MrLiberty

August 10th, 2011
12:58 pm

jconservative – and the liability issue is also what keeps the milk safe. Why do you bother with the use of the word conservative if you really don’t appreciate or believe in the internal regulatory POWER of the free market. It is not laws that keep restaurants from killing everyone every day with undercooked meats, tainted food, botulism filled food, etc. It is liability. Of course there is a profit motive. Is that to say that you would trust the government who has no profit motive to keep you safe? Sucker. The profit motive also means that you want repeat business.

I grew up drinking Alta Dena Dairy Raw milk. They are a dairy in california. They took very good care of their cows (unlike the other dairies), handled the milk properly, and never had any cases of harm lodged against them – except by the dairy police who were eventually sued for harrassment (and Alta Dena Dairy won the case).

This is about food freedom and personal responsibility. All of you who think that government regulations keep us safe ARE the problem in our society. We have all lost our liberties because of YOUR stupidity and nanny-state mentality.

last

August 10th, 2011
1:09 pm

I think the government SHOULD grab the bull by the horn in this instance, and Barr is…….WRONG!

Pragmatist

August 10th, 2011
1:22 pm

I think the administration should give the police a break and assign the TSA with the task of looking into this problem. They are a well run government agency that provides excellent customer service and is solutions oriented. A great example of govenmental efficiency.

Sarah

August 10th, 2011
1:31 pm

Does anyone stating raw milk is harmful fully understand the full history of pasteurization, the bacterial profile differences between CAFO and pastured animals’ milk and the concept of informed choice? Heck, everyone who pulls the infant/child mortality card might want to figure out how rates were so high in communities that didn’t consume dairy products at all if raw milk was to blame.

Last, you think the government is right? Why don’t you grab the bull by the horns and write the IRS a check for your increased taxes to pay for SWAT style raids on private clubs. Make it a big one if you also want them going after violent offenders instead of just going after consenting adults in a private herdshare/boarding contract.

Grasshopper

August 10th, 2011
1:41 pm

‘The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which is orchestrating the crack down on production and sale of raw milk, contends that Stewart had been running Rawesome for “more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license.” Stewart argues that since Rawesome is open only to private members and not the general public, he does not need a business license.’

Stewart is full of it.

If he is making money on this venture then he needs a business permit. That is the crux of the argument for me.

Tritrinisha

August 10th, 2011
1:47 pm

The udder absurdity of this story makes me want to mooove to another country.

[...] Police Raid Raw Milk ProducersAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)James Stewart, the owner of the store, was arrested during the raid and faces numerous criminal charges, including conspiracy, processing milk without pasteurization, and operating an unlicensed milk plant. His supplier, Sharon Palmer who owns Healthy …Update: Farmers Market Vendor Sharon Palmer's Arraignment PostponedPatch.comRawesome Shutdown: The War on Food FreedomHuffington Post (blog)The Nooner | Chicago news and beyond | August 10, 2011Time Out Chicago (blog)Ashland Daily Tidingsall 5 news articles » [...]

Jefferson

August 10th, 2011
2:11 pm

What part of illegal do they not understand? Pesty laws,eh?

MrLiberty

August 10th, 2011
2:14 pm

Pasteurized milk is not free of bacteria. In fact it is certainly overloaded with bacteria. The dairies that raise cattle for regular milk do not have to worry about the bacterial content of their milk as the pasteurization process will kill everything. But it doesn’t remove the bacteria. They, their waste products, the protein that their cells are made of is all still there in the milk you drink. Millions of kids have quite serious GI issues with milk. Plenty of it is because of lactose intollerance, but plenty is because of these proteins, toxins, etc. Raw milk producers on the other hand cannot afford to have any significant bacterial contamination.

Much like the use of marijuana, heroin, tobacco, sugar, trans-fat, or whatever, the discussion should not be about what a private individual should be allowed to consume at their own risk and with full knowledge of the requirement for personal responsibility, the real discussion should be over where the Federal Government gets the authority without a constitutional amendment to be banning the sale and consumption of ANYTHING.

At one time we valued freedom in this country. At what point did that go out of fashion?

MrLiberty

August 10th, 2011
2:22 pm

Grasshopper – and so everyone in society has to get permission from the government to make money through private transactions? And you are ok with that sentiment? Any why exactly should government gets its pound of flesh for this permission? Based on what natural law? Have you never bought or sold anything to anyone without a permit from the government? Did you get a permit for your last garage sale? How about that last Craigslist posting? Buy any extra tickets from a friend? How about a used car from a neighbor?

Licensing does nothing to insure safety. The purpose of the buyer’s club being private was to circumvent the criminal laws against public sales of raw milk. Licensing is all about restricting access to the market so as to protect existing businesses from competition.

Saying something is against the law presumes that every law is right. When one compares the time before the law was passed to after, what does one say? That same legal act is suddenly now illegal. Hemp was once poised to be the biggest industrial crop in this country. Then a conspiracy of players from the timber, cotton, oil, paper, and other industries worked with “receptive” folks in government to get it banned. Are you such a liberty hater as to blindly support a law and never call for its repeal simply because it is now on the books? If so, you will be of no use in trying to restore liberty to this country, that is for sure.

Chip J

August 10th, 2011
2:44 pm

It’s about time that the government diverted their resources from harrassing those fun loving meth lab folks and went after the notorious health food gang. Maybe that saved a few more kids from going organic. Glad we have our priorities straight.

Grasshopper

August 10th, 2011
2:52 pm

Blah…blah…blah.

‘The purpose of the buyer’s club being private was to circumvent the criminal laws against public sales of raw milk.’

You don’t like a law…work to change it. Don’t ‘circumvent’ it.

David B.

August 10th, 2011
3:19 pm

And don’t even try to sell seeds to anyone. It’s illegal. Thanks, oligarchic government and Monsanto.

last

August 10th, 2011
3:26 pm

So Bob Barr is saying that pasteurization makes him want to put our legislature out to pasture? Why, that’s the most unheard of thing I’ve ever heard of.

And it’s totally wrong, and ergo the incorrigible Bob Barr needs to corral-in his ego.

George Carlin

August 10th, 2011
3:39 pm

I need raw milk for medicinal purposes.