Aug 2011 06

by Nicole Powers

[Above: FDA, FBI & LAPD agents raid Rawesome private food club in Venice, CA.]

The people of Venice, CA slept soundly last night after authorities broke up a major criminal cartel that had been operating in their midst. Raw milk and cheese lord, James “Rawesome” Stewart, and his accomplices, Sharon Ann Palmer and Eugenie Bloch of Healthy Family Farms LCC, were arrested yesterday following a raid on premises in the predominantly metro-hippy, hipster-hippy, genuinely hippy, and wannabe hippy beach district.

The multi-agency action –– a collaboration between the FDA, the FBI and the LAPD –– is part of a major government crackdown on healthy food. Agents had successfully scored illicit cheese and dairy products on several occasions during a year-long undercover sting operation centered around Rawesome, a members-only organic produce speakeasy operated by Stewart out of a location at 665 Rose Ave. After consuming the goods they obtained, the reduction in allergy and asthma symptoms in the operatives involved provided probable cause for the warrant required for Wednesday’s armed raid.

[Above: No Mango Left Behind]

The search warrant, which was issued by the appropriately name Ms. LeCavalier, called for a thorough search of all rooms, attics, and basements of the single story property, plus the surrounding grounds, garages, vehicles, storage areas, trash containers, freezers, refrigerators, and outbuildings. A Girl Scout who was just selling cookies in the wrong place at the wrong time was also asked to turn out her pockets, but only string and a compass was found.

The document also called for samples to be taken, and that the remainder of the controlled substances be seized and destroyed according to State of California “health” codes. Highly trained law enforcement agents therefore dilligently poured the exceedingly fresh milk down drains, and loaded organic produce and whole food onto a truck for off-site destruction as several members of the local homeless community looked on. However, Mrs Tovey, a sprightly pensioner from nearby Marina del Rey, escaped with several mangoes in her hemp handbag before all the fresh food could be removed from the site. She is wanted for questioning in relation to this matter.

Computers, receipts, phone records, a 2007 crumpled Baywatch calendar, and other documents were also seized, as were membership records and documents pertaining to The Right To Choose Healthy Food campaign. Authorities will be contacting members of the raw milk prohibition-busting club over the next few weeks to not-so-gently remind them that The Right To Choose Healthy Food doesn’t exist, and that the First Amendment right to make and distribute pamphlets about it is going the way of habeas corpus.

Talking of which…

Los Angeles prosecutors allege Stewart is guilty of conspiracy to supply fresh food, and is being held on $123,000 bail, with no possibility of using bonds. Furthermore, given Stewart’s Mr. Big status in the raw food underworld, authorities have taken the unusual step of requesting proof of the legitimacy of any funds posted to ensure proceeds from a secret stash of contraband unpasteurized Camembert are not used to spring the kingpin. Palmer has been charged with 9 counts of producing fresh food, and her part-time associate, Bloch, is charged with three counts of conspiracy to do so.

[Above: Eugenie Bloch’s husband, Thomas admits his wife if guilty of selling organic poultry and eggs.]

During the search of the Rawesome premises, authorities were hoping to find evidence that the illegal substances had been smuggled across state lines so they could pursue additional felony charges. However Westsiders know how hard it is to smuggle themselves East of the 405 at the best of times, so unfortunately for law enforcement officials the chances that the easily spoilable raw materials made it to La Brea, never mind the Arizona border are slim to none.

The three arrests had nothing to do with a massive recall of turkey produced by food giant Cargill, but since it happened in the same week The Los Angeles Times thought they’d mention it in their coverage of the raid just so they had a legitimate reason to use the word salmonella, since there was disappointingly no evidence that any goods produced or distributed by Stewart and Palmer had caused illness or were tainted by the pathogen (unlike that of the Minnesota-based food giant, whose dodgy meat is responsible for at least one death, and numerous cases of serious illness).

The manufacture and sale of unpasteurized dairy products is technically legal in California, however, thankfully a whole host of virtually unobtainable licenses and permits are required, which by and large puts a stop to the disgustingly healthy practice of consuming the stuff. But Stewart contends that since he wasn’t operating a public retail establishment, his members-only club wasn’t covered by the small print, which law enforcement officials are too understaffed and busy to read anyways. It’s therefore good to see that rather than taking the time to define the grey areas of the law, government officials are cutting to the chase and taking a firm stance on worryingly healthful consumables, which have the potential to seriously dent the much-maligned healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.

“Praise the lord that in these economically challenged times, the government is allocating significant resources to this issue,” said a Republican who asked not to be named before rushing off to check the value of his Big Ag and Pharma stocks.


The Consumer Wellness Center is collecting donations for a legal defense fund for James Stewart.

For more information on our government’s war on raw milk watch Farmageddon, and read our interview with the film’s maker, raw food and small farm advocate Kristin Canty.


At his arraignment at the Los Angeles County Courthouse on Thursday August 4, James Stewart’s bail was reduced to $30,000. He was released on Friday on condition that he no longer engage in the sale of unpasteurized milk and cheese. (He’s not even allowed to give away raw dairy and eggs, and Rawesome is subject to warrantless searches at any time.) Victoria Bloch was released without bail. Worryingly, both Stewart and Bloch were only allowed to leave police custody on condition that they sign a waiver agreeing to give up their First Amendment rights and refrain from talking to anyone about the case. (They can’t email, Facebook or Tweet about it, never mind talk to the press!) Sharon Ann Palmer is expected to be arraigned on Monday, August 8 in Ventura County. The delay is apparently due to transportation issues. Rawesome is currently closed, and, reports that the case “is now going to be handled by an ‘environmental crimes’ prosecutor from the FDA.” Meanwhile, despite being responsible for 76 salmonella-related illnesses and one death, the owners of the company responsible, Cargill, continue to enjoy their life and liberty.

Government agencies involved in the year-long action again Rawesome include the FDA, the California Franchise Tax Board, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch and the department’s Division of Measurement Standards, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the Ventura County Department of Public Health, the LAPD, and the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. In related news, having maxed out our nation’s spending limit, America’s credit rating has been downgraded, and when it comes to the issues surrounding raw dairy, Democrats and Republicans are uniting in favor of less government intervention.

There will be a series of special screenings of Farmageddon at the Electric Lodge cinema on Saturday, August 20 (see details). Proceeds will go to the Rawesome Community Fund.


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