Sunday, August 28, 2011

Politics at the Dinner Table

Like it or not, food is political.

Even if we deliberately refrain from talking politics for civility's sake, what we choose to eat can perhaps be more telling of our participation in government than what boxes we check on election day:  Fast food or home-cooked? Steak or salad? Regular or diet? Raw or pasteurized? Conventional or organic? Gluten-free or not? Genetically modified or pure nature? Food from a box or from a local family farm?

Some of us ask ourselves these types of questions every day, some of us are already sturdy in the answers we've found, and yet others of us are only maybe peripherally aware that anyone is asking questions of this nature at all. Educating ourselves on issues like these can be a slow and sometimes painful process, but as with political candidates, the more we learn, the better our decisions become. The subtle similarities and differences among our options begin to reveal themselves as we move from general questions to more specific inquiries. Suddenly, what had been a choice between regular soda or diet soda becomes a decision to abstain from consuming Coke or Pepsi-type products altogether. Raw milk drinkers don't seem as insane as the TV news people would like us to think. The word Monsanto begins to conjure a negative emotional reaction. Still, some issues remain as much a mystery to us as the origin of our favorite grocery store item... What are the ingredients on the label, for example, and how do I even begin to pronounce them, let alone call any of it food? Where does my food come from? Who decides what is safe to eat? Who pays those people's salaries? Who are my food choices benefitting? Who makes money if not my local farmer? Why am I always tired? Why don't I feel healthier more often? What does 'genetically modified organism' (GMO) mean, and what are its consequences?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sucker Punch

Sometimes I get so angry, I think I might go blind with rage. Some days, I can't help but break down in tears. Other times, I'm sure I'm going to breathe fire at any moment... Today, I've already experienced all that, and I've had enough. I am putting on my protest.

Early this morning, members of the government raided the primary source of my healthy foods and health community here in Los Angeles, the Rawesome food club in Venice. From what I've gathered from various news sources and folks who were there at the time, today's raid was similar to last year's in its SWAT-team type approach. Perhaps remembering all the publicity generated by surveillance video of that event one year ago, this morning's multi-agency raid team apparently wasted no time in turning off the club's security cameras. They then arrested my friend, Rawesome founder James Stewart and set his bail at an astronomical $123,000 with reportedly no possibility for use of bail bonds. (This amount is greater, by the way, than the 2011 LA County presumptive bail for human trafficking, rape, DUI, manslaughter, assault with a firearm upon a peace officer or firefighter, or threatening the life of a judge.) ONLINE DONATIONS to help support Raw food rights and cover Rawesome's legal defense costs ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED by the way!

where produce once was
Meanwhile, in Ventura Country, a separate group of agents raided Healthy Family Farms, a Rawesome supplier, and arrested owner Sharon Palmer at a recommended bail of $120,000. Her associate and L.A. County liaison for the Weston A. Price Foundation, Victoria Bloch, was reportedly also arrested at a recommended bail of $60,000.

Though it is legal to sell raw milk in Calfornia, the charges against the three appear to include a conspiracy, related to what authorities insist is a lack of proper licensing and labeling - charges which seem clearly irrelevant in the case of a private buying club such as Rawesome, whose members all sign liability waivers acknowledging they understand the so-called risks involved in consuming products not 'approved' by the FDA. (For my part, I'm more suspicious of products the FDA approves. Just look at our rates of obesity, disease, and how little real nutrition is contained in most processed foods and fast-food meals... Please, can we stop pretending that "government knows best" and get back to making our own informed decisions?)

In any case, it seems the raid team involved here didn't even follow their own rules. Reports indicate the search warrant issued against Rawesome ultimately led to the confiscation of the club's on-hand cash, as well as the destruction or confiscation of [close to] its entire inventory. And now Rawesome regulars, like me, are asking why the entire inventory was destroyed if officials were in fact authorized to take only samples of product. The search warrant reportedly states that "various samples of any food products present may be taken for laboratory analysis." Did they mistake the drain for a Petri dish? And why, especially, were tens of thousands of dollars in organic fruits and vegetables hauled away in the back of a huge truck if their supposed concern was with the dairy? The answer, for me anyway, seems clear: The raid has the look and feel of outright persecution against those who choose a wholesome, nutrient dense Raw foods lifestyle.