Growing your own food may be the only way…

To insure you know where exactly your food comes from.  Following up the high profile raid in  2010 of raw food buying club Rawsome in Venice, earlier this month, both Rawsome and this time Healthy Family Farms in Santa Paula were again raided and its owners/operators arrested.  At first I was a little disgusted with what I thought was an overreaction by government agencies.  To shop at Rawsome, you have to become a member and acknowledge the risks of food that may not meet all government standards for processing (ie its raw and hasn’t been pasteurized or sprayed with chemicals, etc).  You can view the Rawsome Club agreement here.  Healthy Family Farms (HFF) is at many local farmer’s markets, including the Hollywood Farmer’s Market (where Alicia and I shop).  They have a CSA that provides for a discount on all items, as well as makes available additional items for pre-order for pick up at the market of your choice.  To join the CSA, you also have to sign an agreement similar to the Rawsome agreement, you can view it here.  After visiting the farm during one of their open houses, I decided to join the HFF CSA.

Now that the dust (and shock) of the initial raid/arrests have begun to settle, things have started to leak out that all may not be what it appears to be in regards to Rawsome & HFF.  As Erik at Root Simple writes, we may be getting “A Raw Deal.”  There seems to be evidence emerging that indicates that HFF is purchasing conventionally raised eggs and meat and then repackaging them for sale as coming from the farm in Santa Paula.  When I first heard this rumor, I dismissed it as a misunderstanding, as HFF had mentioned “rescuing” animals from other farms either going out of business or getting in trouble for mistreating animals.  But now I’m not so sure. (More info about HFF and its owner can be found here.)

These two examples aren’t the only local examples of this breach of trust.  In Sept 2010, the local NBC affiliate did an investigative report on farmer’s market vendors not being completely honest on where the goods they sold came from (as well claims of being pesticide-free).

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As Erik at Root Simple says:

This type of fraud, repackaging cheap wholesale food products and passing them off as organic/raw etc. is, I believe, widespread.

That list of reasons to grow your own food, if you can, keeps getting longer . . .

I’m not sure how all this will play out in the end, this is still just one side of the story, and we do live in a innocent until proven guilty world in the US.  I definitely will be thinking twice this Sunday when I get eggs at the market this week.  Will I look at some of the other vendors as better options?  Is HFF’s note in this weeks email of more limited egg availability and reduction of farmer’s market locations an indication that some of these allegations are true?  Right now, we really only have rumors and pieces of evidence that have not been judged.

We also don’t have HFF’s side of the story. Only the email copied below, asking for patience while the case works its way through the system and to take any potential motive in mind for anything negative you may hear:

chickens on grass
To our many wonderful customers and CSA members,We thank you for the outpouring of support expressed by so many who have e-mailed, called, stopped by our farmer’s market booths, and posted on our Facebook page and in so many blogs!When you visit the market, even though we’d love to discuss some of the issues connected with the pending case, please don’t ask us to do so. We’re not under a gag order, but it’s just not a good idea. We’re sure you understand.

We do look forward to continuing to provide you with the poultry, meats, and eggs we raise on our farm.

There will undoubtedly be numerous comments and articles and blog posts over the next several weeks regarding the farm (there have already been some this week). While any negative ones may be distressing to some of you, we trust that you will keep your eyes, ears, and brains engaged and evaluate what you may see and hear – on either side – as to source, veracity, sense, and potential motive.

Remember that this is all about a much larger issue: individual food freedom — your right to choose what you eat and what you feed your family and friends, as well as where you source your food.

If you would like to follow the situation, you may want to check in regularly with the following sites:

Thank you, and we continue to appreciate your good wishes and your support.


Healthy Family Farms

Sharon Palmer
Healthy Family Farms

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