On the morning of August 3, 2011, armed agents of the U.S. government and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office conducted a raid on a small private club in southern California, seizing the substances being sold therein and arresting three individuals on felony charges. It was the second raid on the club in two years and the culmination of a yearlong investigation by 10 local, state, and federal agencies that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “used high-tech video equipment hidden on a utility pole for round-the-clock surveillance and undercover agents to make covert buys.”
In what nefarious substances was the club trafficking? Marijuana? Cocaine? Heroin? No, the members of Rawesome Foods of Venice, California, were accused of the heinous crime of consuming milk and other dairy products that had not been pasteurized — products that the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies insist are so dangerous that individuals must not be permitted to ingest them.
Advocates of unpasteurized (“raw”) milk consumption beg to differ. They argue that raw milk is nearly as safe as pasteurized milk and that its benefits outweigh its slightly increased risks. Many go to great lengths to obtain raw milk, joining private food clubs like Rawesome, entering into agreements whereby they purchase shares in cows and in turn receive the cows’ milk (called “herd sharing”), and, in some cases, openly defying the FDA’s ban on interstate raw milk sales.
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