Reason.tv: Raw Foods Raid - The Fight for the Right to Eat What You Want

This summer armed government agents raided Rawesome Foods, a Venice, California health food co-op. What were the agents after? Unpasteurized milk, it turns out.

Raw milk raids are happening all over the United States. The Food and Drug Administration warns that raw milk consumption can cause health problems, but a growing community of raw foods enthusiasts are ignoring government recommendations and claiming that they are getting tastier, more nutritious food by going raw. 

Reason.tv visited Rawesome to examine the circumstances of the raid and discovered that this particular raw foods case stretches across county lines and involves at least five separate government agencies, despite the fact that not a single member of Rawesome has complained or been harmed by the raw foods. In fact, members have to sign a contract stating that they understand and accept the risks of consuming raw foods before they are allowed to step inside.

If members of a private club sign a waiver stating that they want to drink a certain type of milk, why is the government getting involved? As Jarel Winterhawk, a manager at Rawesome, puts it, "This is America. How are you going to tell me what I can and cannot eat?"

Though no charges have yet resulted from the raid, Rawesome is threated with shutdown due to the involvement of yet another government agency, Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, and the club's raw goat milk supplier, Healthy Family Farms, has had its dairy license suspended. 

"Raw Foods Raid" is written and produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Alex Manning and Weissmueller. Senior Producer is Ted Balaker. Music by Jami Sieber, Five Star Fall, and Kammen and Swan (Magnatune Records). 

Approximately 7 minutes.

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  • Kristen||

    Maybe now the self-styled food police will see how regulating what we eat works both ways - your raw milk is another man's Happy Meal.

  • Colin||

    +1

    How much you wanna bet that all the members of Rawawesome are liberal Democrats?

  • Typical Liberal||

    They should feel ashamed! Ashamed that they would go against the infallible word of the FDA! Arrest those traitors! They are worse than drug dealers!!!

  • Joseph||

    I drink raw milk. It's awesome. The reason they started pasteurizing milk was because of scarlet fever, which hasn't been a problem for a while. Not to mention that they've improved sanitation and milk and bottling technology such that the risks are very small nowadays. You can buy raw eggs and raw meat, which have both have much higher risks of carrying disease, but not raw milk. Unlike them, milk is actually designed to be eaten raw (cows feed it to their calves without pasteurizing it). Cases of food poisoning associated with raw milk are very rare. The whole thing smacks of bad, outdated science. I wish the states would stop banning it and start worrying about things that are bad for your health, like police with guns, for example.

  • AlmightyJB||

    How does it taste compared to pasteurized?

  • ||

    much richer and creamier, somewhat sweeter too. (at least the stuff I drink)

  • AlmightyJB||

    Huh, I'll have to get a hold of some, thanks. Shouldn't be too hard to find in Ohio.

  • Pud||

    The main reason was so that contaminated milk could be 'cleaned up' instead of being dumped. With proper milking techniques and healthy animals, there is no health threat. The real health threat is winding up on the bad end of a storm troopers glock.

  • Burnt||

    I would guess they're probably closer to Socialists or Anarchists.

  • wat||

    You would lose that bet.

  • Tom||

    Suck it, San Francisco.

  • Kristen||

    Yep...I'm havnig a real hard time feeling bad for these folks. Maybe they're good folks who don't want to ban Happy Meals, but I personally know raw food proponents who cheered San Fran on with the whole Happy Meal regulation.

    So, suck it. Suck it hard.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    And don't forget the boys!

  • Rachel Maddow||

    I like a Ho with a fat crack!

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Well yeah, who doesn't?

  • Barney The Frank||

    You're driving mr crazy!

  • Barney The Frank||

    I meant "me" I must have been thinking of Mr. Happy.

  • ||

    Well, some of us just like raw milk because we're allergic to pasteurized milk.

    Whatever cultures are left intact in raw milk break down whatever it is in pasteurized milk that makes me break out in hives and anaphylaxis.

    So raw milk proponents aren't all hippy dippy granola crunch types.

    My only problem is that I can't afford the $150 sign up fee and $30/month for 4 gallons of milk from a cowshare.

    If the stupid government would get out of the way, I'd be able to buy safe-for-me milk in the grocery store for far less money.

  • Mango Punch||

    Today’s Brickbrat:

    Alyssa Cornish is a straight-A student and a member of the student council at Santa Fe Trail Elementary School in Kansas. But the fifth-grader was suspended for three months after she and several other students were caught playing with an Airsoft pistol on campus, violating the school's ban on weapons. Cornish's mother says the other students, including the one who brought the gun to school, received much shorter suspensions. She says her daughter was punished more harshly because she admitted to playing with the gun.


    1) Being a straight A student in 5th grade means nothing
    2) An Airsoft pistol is a legitimate thing for an elementary school to ban
    3) It makes sense to punish someone you know broke the rules (her for admitting it) more harshly than someone who could be innocent (the other students who kept their mouths shut)

  • Mango Punch||

    Also, if straight-As in 5th grade were impressive, why would it even matter? Should smart kids be treated more liniently than dumb kids, Reason?

  • ||

    I was straight-smiley face as a kid.

  • Matrix||

    :-|

  • AlmightyJB||

    She wasn't smart enough to lie, like the other kids.

  • AlmightyJB||

    She wasn't smart enough to lie, like the other kids.

  • waffles||

    In 4th grade I was a straight A student when I was punished for bringing my swiss army knife to school. Thankfully this was a Catholic school pre-Colombine, but still. I wasn't suspended, just given a stern verbal reprimand.

  • ||

    In fourth grade I got the same amount of detention as the kid that fought me, even though I never struck back at him. If I had known going in that I would get the same penalty for being in a fight as I would for fighting, that kid wouldn't have been getting back up.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hell, in fifth grade, I got paddled for laughing at another kid who got in trouble.

  • Abdul||

    You should have claimed you were studying for the Swiss Guard, and you'd have gotten a medal.

  • pancakes||

    you should have been expelled, you did stab that kid, remember? yes, he stole your fruit roll-up, and yes it was just the toothpick, but you still feel guilty don't you? don't you!?

  • ||

    In 7th grade - I carried a .22 rifle my pop borrowed on the bus to school, walked in and propped it in the corner of the Principal's office...then at 3pm, went and got it - and met the merit badge counselor for my Scouting Marksmanship badge, as we had to drive to the range outside the city limits. No muss, no fuss. Today, I'd be a 13 year old corpse at the bus stop, courtesy of the nearest SWAT team. That's America. We're not paranoid...we KNOW they're out to get us, eh?

  • ||

    My high school (in Canada yet!) actually had a rifle team. We went every wednesday to the locker room, met our coach who issued us rifles out of the gun cabinet, walked through the school's hallways to the bus out front and went to the range. Sigh.

  • ||

    Yeah, but you had to be armed to fend off moose and polar bears, right?

  • pancakes||

    and those flannel man-eating Quebecois!

  • ||

    The one reason Ontario needs the bomb.

  • omg||

    Why don't they just tell the person who brought them in not to bring them in? Then they could send all the students on their way?

  • ||

    I'll feed.

    1) Did you follow through to the link? The actions happened on a Sunday, i.e., not a school day.
    2) Even if you are convinced it's right for a school to ban an Airsoft pistol, the punishment does not seem to match up with the "crime," especially when the school is acting on a situation where no other students were even on the premises and did not have their lives threatened by one another.
    3) It makes sense for a punishment to be granted to all of them, equally. An admission of guilt doesn't make someone more guilty than someone else.

  • Mango Punch||

    Nope, never followed the link.

  • ||

    Wow. I see your logic but I don't think you go far enough. All children who commit such crimes should be put in prison and their parents forced to pay steep fines. Maybe the consequences will be severe enough to prevent children from behaving so childish.

  • Mango Punch||

    I agree that the punishment was excessive.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    I agree an airsoft gun is a legitimate thing for a school to ban, much for the same reason a Nintendo DS or in iPod is a legitimate thing to ban. Though it's not a weapon, it creates a distraction in the classroom environment, and should be left at home. If a kid is caught with it in school, it should stay in the teacher's drawer till the end of the day, when it's sent home with the kid (along with a note to his parents).

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Edit: FOR MUCH the same reason

  • Typical Liberal||

    The gubmit saiz itz bad, so it must be true!

    How dare they try to give people what they want! Only Michelle has the right to decide our nutritional needs through her prophet the FDA!

  • ¢||

    ["Four Moloko" joke]

  • Oooops!||

    Seven more people have gotten sick after drinking raw milk from a rebel dairy farmer who has kept churning out product despite a state order to stop, health regulators said Thursday.

    It's the latest development in a months-long saga over unpasteurized or raw milk that started with eight cases of E. coli sickness that were linked to milk from Mike Hartmann's farm in Gibbon, Minn.

    Public health authorities widely decry raw milk as potentially dangerous, since it doesn't undergo pasteurization to kill pathogens, but some natural food advocates revere it as a healthful tonic of sorts, superior in taste and nutrients.

    http://www.startribune.com/loc.....3LGDiO7aiU

  • ||

    You are aware of that quote about the security/freedom thing right? So, once you are off the security of the nipple (and I am assuming you are - although there's nothing wrong with nipples) you enter the realm of freedom. You may choose to shove whatever you like in your pie hole and accept the risk, and if you don't like risk there's always the FDA etc. Keep yourself safe:
    http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Co.....ty/rss.xml

    http://www.usrecallnews.com/section/recalled-food

  • ||

    So.... you're in favor of alcohol Prohibition too, right?

  • Oooops!|||

    Where,exactly, did I opine??

  • ||

    A hell of a lot more than seven people have gotten sick from alcohol, after all. And in both cases people are aware of the dangers.

    I can't see how you can possibly think that your argument for banning raw milk doesn't apply equally well to alcohol.

    Apparently I gave you too much credit for being a rational thinking human being.

  • ||

    And it goes without saying that you're 100% against home brewing.

  • ||

    Keep your laws off our bodies.

  • Virginia||

    But Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who specializes in food safety and has sued raw milk producers, said the illnesses should be taken into account. "I can't understand why the Department of Health can't stop the sale of his products."

    I love Love LOVE!!! when statists piss & moan. Thanks for linking to this story. That quote alone was worth the click.

    But let me go ahead and respond to said authoritarian... it's because the Department of Health DOESN'T HAVE THE FUCKING AUTHORITY.

  • Arnold||

    Let the strongest survive.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Ooooops!,

    Seven more people have gotten sick after drinking raw milk from a rebel dairy farmer who has kept churning out product despite a state order to stop, health regulators said Thursday.

    One is supposed to boil raw milk after arriving home with it, just like my great-grandma used to do.

    The fact is that by buying raw milk, one is assured the product contains all the fat and protein that comes sraight from the moo-cow, instead of buying the watered down swill that comes in plastic gallon jugs...

  • ||

    "but some natural food advocates revere it as a healthful tonic of sorts, superior in taste and nutrients."

    Yeah, and we all know how rigorously natural food advocates back up their claims with science.

    I'm against food regulation, but it's not because of anything hippies have to say on the matter.

  • Ska||

    Look, this is real simple: buy homogenized, pasteurized milk if the raw milk scares you.

    Seven people took the risk of drinking raw milk and got sick. Let them be. It's their lives.

  • ||

    Get in line for your kidney now..

  • ||

    If the video is on "raw food" or "home-grown produce" or some such, I always keep my fingers crossed for dreadlocked white girl with nose ring. This video did not disappoint.

  • Tom||

    But no matter how damn annoying those chicks are, I still find them incredibly hot.

  • ||

    So... are they mixing Four Loko into the milk? Is the TSA molesting the milk?

    I can't even figure out why this was posted.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    Probably because cops raided a health-food shop with their guns drawn, searching for raw milk. I think that merits attention from a libertarian-leaning publication.

  • ||

    WHOOSH!

  • ||

    This your way of saying I need to dial up the gain on my sarcasm detector? ;)

  • ||

    Don't believe for a minute that farm was raided! At 4:34 to 4:39 there's a live dog walking beside the house. No dead goats anywhere! Live chickens walk around. I don't believe for a minute cops wouldn't have had to defend themselves from at least one threatening critter.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Not to mention, I did not see one black girl lit on fire by a flash grenade and shot by the Police while screaming because it hurts to be on fire. I call shennanigans.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    "This is America. How are you going to tell me what I can and cannot eat?"

    This is America. Therefore, we are going to tell you what you can and cannot eat.

  • Kristen||

    Yep...the hubris is killin me!

  • Nat'l Organization for Women||

    Remember: Your uterus is your own, but the rest of your organs still belong to the State.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    So if I don't have a uterus (my nom de plume notwithstanding), what organ do I get to consider my own?

  • Nat'l Organization for Women||

    You don't deserve jack shit, you fucking male oppressor.

  • ||

    (Smugly regarding your two black eyes)

    Bitch, I done tolt you twice!

  • Jack of All Threads||

    Bristol Palin Transforms Left: They Now Favor Rewarding Merit, Oppose Voter Fraud

    By design or accident, it appears as though a 20 year-old single mother is using the power of popular culture to single handedly transform the left by ginning up their rage to a point where they now see the light when it comes to rewarding merit and opposing voter fraud. This quite possibly ranks as the most important political and social triumph of 2010.

    I’ve never seen an episode of “Dancing With the Stars,” but the Left’s uproar over Bristol Palin’s win last night has been impossible to miss. Because I’ve never seen the show I can’t comment over the young woman’s dancing skills (though she obviously has some of her mother’s star quality – which counts, right?). Regardless, to read and hear all the left-wing outrage and hand-wringing this morning over the idea of someone advancing in our society based on something other than merit is a landmark moment in our culture. The very same people who want to give every kid a trophy, end score-keeping in sports, and graduate illiterates because self-esteem is more important than being employable, have suddenly discovered the importance of competition — which can only be good for America.

    http://bighollywood.breitbart......ter-fraud/

  • Pip||

    You missed the money shot JOAT:

    "Furthermore, we now have actual bona fide Leftists enraged over the idea of voter fraud and calling for stronger verification measures to ensure one person, one vote. Yes, this counter-intuitive left-wing thinking might be directed at a reality show, but the road out of the darkside often begins with a single step."

  • ||

    I noticed that Gawker is totally obsessed with Bristol Palin. I cannot figure out the increasing insanity of these people. Who the fuck cares about some public figures doing stuff to promote themselves? It's not like the Palins are some sort of threat, and I think Sarah Palin has little chance of the nomination in 2012, even if she runs. I don't think a serious candidate launches a reality show or resigns from office.

  • ||

    insanity inanity
    FTFY.

  • ||

    Well, the House Democrats did just decide that the correct leader for their party is still Nancy Pelosi, so perhaps they're thinking that Republicans will make a similar mistake.

  • ||

    I cannot figure that one out at all. The one thing I expected was for her to be thrown into the ditch. A number of new Congresspeople ran specifically against her and Obama. The party is stuck with the president, but not with that awful, awful woman.

    This bodes ill for the Democrats in 2012.

  • 2010 Voter||

    This bodes ill for the Democrats in through 2012.

    FTFY

  • ||

    I too saw the Bristol Palin thing. She made the finals. Word is she didn't win the popular vote, but she slept with some guy named Chad who counts twice.

  • ||

    Well, many of those who ran against her lost.

    I guess the feeling is the Democrats don't need those swing districts anyway.

  • ||

    Man Shoots TV because Bristol Palin makes final.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new.....akes_.html

    Do liberals get drunk, shoot guns?

  • Old Mexican||

    Now that you brought the subject of dancing sausages, I have been following BP's stint in DWTS just out of plain, morbid curiosity. The girl has the grace of a newborn elephant, but one can see her improved dancing skills with every episode.

    I have watched and followed because the comments coming from the eleutherophobic media are just hilarious.

    http://www.buddytv.com/article.....38674.aspx

  • ||

    Everyone knows that the government can protect us from food bourne illnesses, right!?
    http://ecoliinformation.com/20.....-explored/

  • Virginia||

    Read like just another scare story to give the FSIS more leverage in passing their Small Producers Will Go Out of Business Act.

  • H man||

    The government trained the food Bourne illnesses. It began with Treadstone.

  • ||

    That's what I was thinking, too.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Raw milk is not inherently dangerous. It is, in fact, more healthful and nutritious than pasteurized milk.

    Problem is, you can't get raw milk dirty. Not even a little bit. The properties that make it healthful for you also make it healthful for nasty bacteria like E. coli. Pasteurized milk kills all the bacteria, good and bad. Raw milk comes out of the cow with nothing but good bacteria, but if any bad bacteria gets in it, look out.

    What's the solution? Yogurt. Cooking the milk to kill off the bacteria is part of the process anyway, and the fermentation puts back a lot of good bacteria and nutrients.

    [insert standard libertarian boilerplate]

  • Kristen||

    I have actually been looking for raw milk for a while so I could make my own yogurt. My research tells me ultra-pasteurized milk will absolutely not work.

  • ||

    I've successfully made yogurt using canned evaporated milk (just as an experiment, because a grocery store near me had evaporated milk at a ridiculously low price).

    It wasn't the greatest yogurt I've ever had, but it was yogurt. (It wasn't bad, mind you -- just not as delicious as the yogurt I've made using half-and-half and storebought Greek-style yogurt for the starter culture.)

  • ||

    This is America. How are you going to tell me what I can and cannot eat?

    By using short simple words, with my boot on your neck, punctuated with prodding from my nightstick.

    That's how.

  • Peasant||

    Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

  • Jess Asken||

    Is new-formula Four Loko pasteurized?

  • PIRS||

    I sometimes buy raw milk at Whole Foods. I live in Florida and they mark their bottles of milk "For Pet Use Only". I do not own a cat. But - uh -my dog LOVES the stuff.

  • Swat||

    We'll be paying a visit to your dog.

  • TheFamilyDog||

    Oh no!

  • Teve Torbes||

    On this issue, the hippie foodies are right. They should be able to consume whatever they want. Ironically, I'm sure many of these same people would strongly favor universal healthcare, which would actually give the government a good reason to get between them and their rawesome food. Intellectual consistency is sorely lacking in this country.

  • ||

    First, they came for the Hippies, but I didn't notice because I was too busy slurping my oysters...

  • ||

    The biggest producer of organic, raw (umpasteurized milk) Organic Pastures Mark (forgot his last name), did an experiment where he put salmonella and other harmful bacteria into some of his milk, and did the same thing with regular pasteurized milk.

    He discovered that the natural antibiotics in the raw milk inhibited the growth of the harmful bacteria, and that it grew faster in the pasteurized milk.

    Many years ago, it was found that in two large cities, the infant death rate was three times as high in the City that had pasteurized milk as opposed to the raw milk. This is not surprising, when you consider that a calf raised exclusively on pasteurized milk will die within six months.

  • ||

    There has been extensive research on the subject. You need just the right microflora in the milk for it to be bactericidal or bacteriostatic. Their are trillions of microorganisms and the balance has to be just right for the proper enzymes to be activated. Even then, it only works for a limited time frame, according to the research. I would guess the experiment you mention was either faulty or a fluke.

  • Tom||

    So, liberals, now can we all agree that the government sucks?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I wish this video would have been more like the scene from The Devils Rejects where the cop show up and then get gunned down.

  • Boss Tweed||

    I guess everyone has forgotten that the reason pasteurized milk has become the norm is that unpasteurized milk was a common source for Tuberculosis and Brucellosis infections.

    In the 1930s, 40% of cows in the UK were infected with M. bovis (bovine TB) and there were 50,000 new cases of human M. bovis infection every year.

    Modern dairy herds are checked every year for TB, but the potential is still there.

    I say drink raw milk if you want, but just don't count me in.

  • ||

    I think the concerns nowadays are with Camplyobacter, E. Coli O157:H7, etc.

  • ||

    I guess everyone has forgotten...
    I say drink raw milk if you want, but just don't count me in.

    I guess you haven't noticed that the vast majority of us haven't said anything that contradicts your position. I agree with it; I don't want to drink raw milk, but let people do so if they want.

    For many people here, just because we personally disagree with something, think it's a bad idea, or wouldn't do it, doesn't mean that we want to ban it.

  • ||

    just because we personally disagree with something, think it's a bad idea, or wouldn't do it, doesn't mean that we want to ban it.

    Cut him some slack, Thacker. Most people DO want to ban everything they dislike.

  • ||

    Very true. That's why I should have been clearer about a "unlike most places, people here don't think that way so much."

    We have people here who agree 100% about policy but get into savage disagreement about the resulting effects of that policy (say, eliminating farm subsidies or all transportation or energy subsidies.)

  • St. V||

    Well, that, and Con Air did suck.

  • ||

    I guess the health departments were concerned. I've also read that Rawesome has been cited for selling to the public. I'm not sure about that, but raw milk does seem to be more dangerous than the average food. Not many people drink it, but it seems that quite a few get seriously ill.

    http://www.marlerblog.com/uploads/image/2010 ALL dairy through NOV 13.pdf

  • ||

    Raw oysters can be dangerous too. As can sushi, sunny-side-up eggs (my favorite!), rare burgers, and whole host of other tasty shit that man has been eating since time immemorial. So I guess that's partly why staging an armed raid on the milk store doesn't seem justified to me.

  • WileE||

    The problem with pastuerized milk is the TECHNIQUE. There are two acceptable methods. One is low temperature for a long time and one is a very high temperature for a short time. Companies use the short time method to increase productivity, but kill taste. the long time method preserves the same taste as "raw" milk.

  • ||

    YOU GOTTA FIGHT....FOR YOUR RIGHT....TO PARTY..UH I MEAN EAT....sorry!

  • Cuddly Soft Balls of Death||

    Our family of five drank 2-3 gallons of raw milk a week, for over 10 years, with not one ill health affect. We would drive over to the dairy in the evenings, right after the evening milking. The milk was usually still warm from the coo when we took it home. We put the cream in our coffee, made our own butter, and all manner of subversive shit like that.

  • ||

    First it's raw milk, next it will be raw human meat! First it's homosexual sex. Next, it's sex with farm animals!
    Next, they will outlaw invading countries to control their natural resources!

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