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Federal Raid at Raw Food Store Federal Raid at Raw Food Store
On August 3rd the U.S. government’s position on the control of our food safety and food security was displayed again. This time in... Federal Raid at Raw Food Store

picture of police raid

On August 3rd the U.S. government’s position on the control of our food safety and food security was displayed again.  This time in Los Angeles at an establishment named The Rawesome Food Club.  This establishment was raided by state and federal agents who took James Stewart age 64 a volunteer, under custody along with cash, computers, files and over 70,000 in perishable goods that included a variety of fresh organic grass fed milk, fresh raw cheeses, sheep’s goats milk cheeses and fresh mozzarella to name a few.

This was the second such raid on Rawesome; the first having happened in June of 2010.  The volunteers bail was set at 121,000.  This figure is considerably higher than the usual bail set on that day and is usually reserved for persons who have been charged with harsh felonies that involve drugs and violent physical crimes, and to top it off his bail was denied. Now, I’m no lawyer but to deny someone bail is a serious and heavy move by a judge so I decided to do a google search and see what felonies can fall under this heavy and serious move by the judge. I found The Bail Act of 1976 which clearly defines the felonies that can be denied bail.

Apparently the Bail act states that if a crime is committed while the person is out on bond

(Mr. Stewart was not out on bond nor a felon), or if the person is a drug user or a repeat and serious offender. It also states that a person can be denied bail if an adult offender has tested positive for certain Class A drugs of the Criminal Justice Act of 2003 which places restrictions on the granting of bail.

Class A drugs (cocaine, heroin, opiates, anabolic steroids etc) represent those deemed most dangerous, and so can carry the harshest punishment. It states that a person can be denied bail if the offender is either charged with possession or possession with intent to supply a Class A drug, also if the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for the believing that the misuse of a Class A drug caused or contributed to the offence. Well to me it seems absurd to put such a heavy punishment on someone who is involved in the fresh milk trade and to pin fresh milk next to crack and opium.  Of the thirteen counts pinned on Mr. Stewart twelve pertained to raw milk and products make from raw milk that were distributed to club members in a Rose Avenue warehouse.

Christopher Darden who prosecuted OJ Simpsons civil suit appeared at Mr. Stewarts arraignment just in time to get his bond lowered from 121,000 to 30,000 and strike a clause that prevented the detained from using a bail bondsman, and many other high profile attorneys had also offered their services pro bono.

Rawesome Food Club was started in 1999 as a small group of raw milk lovers and drinkers. The club grew quite steadily from a cooler in a parking lot to a rented storage space to a current warehouse.

Rawseome members sign a form confirming that “as a member of this private member-only club, I demand access to foods that is A) produced without exposure to chemicals contaminants such as industrialized pesticides, fertilizers, cleaners or their gases; Complete with its natural unadulterated enzymes intact; 3) may contain microbes, including but not limited to salmonella, E.coli, campylobacter, listeria, gangrene and parasites; 4) the cows are grass-fed and the goats are pastured on a regular basis; 5) fowl are regularly given the opportunity to range outdoors and not fed soy products; and 6) eggs are unwashed and may have bacteria and poultry feces on them.”

This was the second raid as the first one resulted in seizers of computers and cash that have yet to be returned. The last raid resulted in Rawesome agreeing not to distribute raw milk from Santa Paula-based Healthy Family Farms, which had been supplying raw milk to Rawesome members.