But her 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, wasn’t the least bit tongue-tied. “She started back-talking to them,” recalls Palmer. “She said, ‘If you take my computer again, I can’t do my homework.’ This would be the third computer we will have lost. I still haven’t gotten the computers back that they took in the previous two raids.”
As part of a five-hour-plus search of her barn and home, the agents — from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Ventura County Sheriff, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture — took the replacement computer, along with milk she feeds her chickens and pigs.
While no one will say officially what the purpose of this latest raid was, aside from being part of an investigation in progress, what is very clear is that government raids of producers, distributors, and even consumers of nutritionally dense foods appear to be happening ever more frequently. Sometimes they are meant to counter raw dairy production, other times to challenge private food organizations over whether they should be licensed as food retailers.
The same day Sharon Palmer’s farm was raided, there was a raid on Rawesome Foods, a Venice, Calif., private food club run by nutritionist and raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz. For a membership fee of $25, consumers can purchase unpasteurized dairy products, eggs that are not only organic but unwashed, and a wide assortment of fermented vegetables and other products.
The main difference in the two raids seems to be that Palmer’s raiding party was actually much smaller, about half the size of the Venice contingent: Vonderplanitz was also visited by the FBI and the FDA.
In the Rawesome raid, agents made off with several thousand dollars worth of raw honey and raw dairy products. They also shut Rawesome for failure to have a public health permit, though the size and scope of the raid suggests the government officials might have more in mind. Regardless, within hours the outlet reopened in defiance of the shutdown order.
Earlier in June, agents of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, escorted by police and also bearing search warrants, raided and shut down Traditional Foods Warehouse, a popular food club in Minneapolis specializing in locally-produced foods. They also raided two farms suspected of illegally selling raw milk. And in a national first among such raids, agents searched a private home and made off with computers; the family’s offense appears to have been that it allowed one of the raw dairy farmers to park in its driveway to distribute raw milk to area residents who had ordered it.