The Atlantic on Food Freedom and Food Safety

The Atlantic does a good job of covering the Rawesome food club raid. Rawesome was a private, voluntary cooperative of consenting members who take responsibility for any potential risks. (“Private” and “voluntary” being key words.)

Rawesome members even signed waivers before becoming a food club member. With all of the agencies involved (USDA, FDA, LA County Sheriff, CDC) over a period of a year, this had to cost a whole lot of taxpayer dough. The LA Weekly described it this way:

The official word from the DA’s office is 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. The arrests are the result of a year-long sting. The 13-count complaint alleges that an undercover agent received goat milk, stored in a cooler in the back of Healthy Family Farms van, in the parking lot of a grocery store. While it’s legal to manufacture and sell unpasteurized dairy products in California, licenses and permits are required. Rawesome may have violated regulations by selling raw dairy products to non-members.

Here is a link to the 21-page complaint. Among the many charges against owner James Stewart is one that immediately stands out: entering into private leasing arrangements with consumers. This charge is still fuzzy, and I am sure the feds can produce a whole book of crimes.

The Atlantic writer, Ari LeVaux, compares the Rawesome raid (by Federal and local agencies) to the Cargill contamination of 36 million pounds of ground turkey (77 known ill people, 1 dead). Rawesome was raided, trashed, and shut down, and meanwhile, Cargill was looking at its analysis of costs vs the potential for negative publicity from the contamination situation so they could voluntarily decide whether or not to recall the product.