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Food police raid organic food co-op in California

Here’s merely one of the ridiculously outrageous but real stories in the news today.

This story was picked up by the LA Times.

Raw-food raid highlights a hunger, July 25, 2010

…Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid’s target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.

“I still can’t believe they took our yogurt,” said Rawesome volunteer Sea J. Jones, a few days after the raid. “There’s a medical marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they’re raiding us because we’re selling raw dairy products?”

Cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths.

On one side are government regulators, who say they are enforcing rules designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods and to provide a level playing field for producers. On the other side are ” healthy food” consumers — a faction of foodies who challenge government science and seek food in its most pure form.

They want almonds cracked fresh from the shell, not those run through a federally mandated pasteurization process that uses either heat or a chemical to kill off salmonella and other possible contaminants. They hunger for meat slaughtered on the farm. And they’re willing to pay a premium — $6, $8 or more — for a gallon of milk straight from the cow.

So despite research outlining the dangers of consuming raw milk and other unprocessed foods, they’re finding ways to circumnavigate federal, state and local laws that seek to control what they can serve at the dinner table. Such defiance, they said, comes from growing distrust of a food sector that has become more industrialized and consolidated — and whose products have been at the root of some of the country’s deadliest food contamination cases.

“This is about control and profit, not our health,” said Aajonus Vonderplanitz, co-founder of Rawesome Foods. “How can we not have the freedom to choose what we eat?”

…But in the case of Rawesome, regulators allege that the group broke the law by failing to have the proper permits to sell food to the public. While the raid was happening at Rawesome, another went down at one of its suppliers, Healthy Family Farms in Ventura County. California agriculture officials said farm owner Sharon Palmer’s processing plant had not met standards to obtain a license. Palmer could not be reached for comment.

The image of police drawing guns and sneaking around vegetables would be funny if it wasn’t born from an actual police raid on a simple food market without a “permit” to sell raw food. When considering the extent of real crime that occurs in southern California, the massive layoffs of police happening in California and nationwide, how in the world can a police department even justify something like this? They couldn’t win the war on drugs so now they’re going to pick on organic farmers’ markets?

More:

Swat Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

Farmer fined $4,000 for dealing raw milk

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