The second to last raid in our film Farmageddon occurred in Venice, CA, at a private food-buying club called Rawesome Foods. Whenever I was lucky enough to be in the vicinity and able to visit this club, it was like being a kid in a candy store…or, well, a raw foods lover in a raw foods store?
I was able to buy raw dairy products such as grass fed yogurt, butter, cream, cheese and raw chocolate mousse! (is that dairy?) Raw meat and homemade delicacies such as ceviche and marinated raw meat salads were also available, along with salad dressings, pure olive and other freshly made oils, and a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and fermented drinks…all organic and raw.
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it was pure bliss. I was filming during one visit, and had the pleasure of having people come up to me to tell me their raw food healing stories. I heard stories of MS, Parkinson’s, cancer, arthritis and other conditions completely disappearing on a raw foods diet.
Unfortunately, the FDA does not like stories of people being healed from food, and they don’t like raw foods in general. In the case of Rawesome Foods, multiple agencies (both local and federal) raided it three times. The last time, it was closed down. One of the club’s many suppliers, Sharon Palmer, a farmer who had provided raw goat milk for a time; the manager, James Stewart; and a Weston Price Chapter leader, Victoria Bloch, who volunteered for Sharon at the farmer’s market, and who let people looking for raw foods know about the club, were all charged with multiple felonies. There were no actual felonies in the case; however, all three were charged of conspiring together to commit misdemeanor level offenses, which magically turned the charges to felonies.
Thirteen months later, just before their preliminary hearing, Victoria Bloch and Sharon Palmer were both offered plea deals, which they accepted. Victoria pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of selling unlabeled milk and accepted a 100.00 fine and two years’ summary probation. Sharon Palmer pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of storing milk in unsanitary conditions, since the day she was raided, she was milking her goats to feed her livestock (Rawesome had picked up their milk up a day earlier). She received a 1300.00 fine and 40 hours of community service, and three years’ summary probation. Both Victoria and Sharon would have preferred to have taken this case to a jury trial. Unfortunately, neither had the money to cover the high cost of conducting a trial that would have lasted at least two weeks, perhaps more. James is still in jail, as he was considered a flight risk, and is awaiting either trial or the opportunity to plead out of the case.
There is still a separate Ventura County case awaiting both James and Sharon. And there is a change.org petition to set them free that was written by a Rawesome Foods club member. I fear that the Rawesome community has been torn apart by these circumstances. No one ever became sick from foods they had gotten at Rawesome Foods. Certainly, nobody ever complained about having access to some of the freshest, most delicious foods available. And nobody ever complained about the fresh goat’s milk Sharon provided to the club, as well as to a few of her own farm’s CSA members. On the contrary, I met happy, vibrant, healthy people who enjoyed the foods they sourced from these two wonderful people.
If you would like to learn more or help in any way, please read and sign the petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/free-the-farmer-release-the-milkman-stop-the-wrongful-prosecution-of-sharon-palmer-james-stewart-drop-all-charges-immediately