|Aajonus Vonderplanitz, speaking in Los Angeles in the autumn of 2010. |
Photo by Jennifer Sharpe
From aajonus himself:
James Stewart and I discussed establishing a raw-milk outlet for people on my diet. We joined together and started the raw milk outlet from a one-car garage from coolers. James made arrangements for the garage and raw milk through my resources. I notified people on my diet. I organized the outlet into a members' club and eventually wrote the membership agreement. Rawesome grew exclusively from my client-base so James agreed that food had to meet my standards always as much as possible. I introduced James to my honey producer, John; it took me 4 years to convince John to cold-pack honey for my patients.
In 2001, James and I spoke over the phone several times with Mark McAfee who was interested in developing a raw dairy that he would call Organic Pastures Dairy (OPD). James agreed to distribute his raw organic all-grazed raw milk in Southern CA, mainly to Rawesome members. (Within a year the distribution extended beyond members to health food stores.) I agreed to help loan OPD/Mark money to make cheese from his milk. He accepted my loan that was to be repaid in one year. He repaid half within 4 years but has not paid the balance or interest. He has continually said he would but hasn't.
Several times and for a long period in 2002-2003, Mark's milk tasted bitter. Finally I called him about what he was feeding his cows beside grass. He had fed them rice bran. To acquire rice bran it must be at least heat treated and every rice mill that I know uses chemicals to dry and preserve rice bran. So even though the rice may have been grown organically, once it is processed it is no longer organic. We discovered that not only were OPD's cows not fully grass-fed, they were not completely organically fed. For about 2 years Mark removed the label stating organic but did not announce that he was feeding his herd commercial food. Nor did he change the company name to something other than "Organic" Pastures Dairy. I realized that no matter what, even in the world of health-minded individuals, people make unhealthy choices for convenience, profit and/or simply because sometimes we have no other choice.
In 2002, James Stewart began providing a product at Rawesome that was not food, as we had agreed. He sold and promoted a saltwater product for people to consume. Most Rawsome members at the time were my clients and people my clients referred to Rawesome, I was dismayed. I explained why saltwater was harmful and he responding crassly, "You don't know everything "Godjonus". I think it is a great product and I am going to carry it." Everyone who has consumed saltwater knows that it causes nausea and illness. I tried to reason with him by saying, "Just because you take an amount that does not cause those symptoms does not mean it is good for you." He got angry and more insulting so I let it be. The only way that he might see what I saw was to let him discover if it eventually harmed him and others. I let my clients know that if they wanted to experiment with it, it would likely cause problems. I warned James that bringing in a supplement would invite the FDA and governments into our club. I was not happy with it but I am not a fascist. People must have there experience.
Also in 2007 at home in Los Angeles, Venice, CA, Rawesome took on a major change. James Stewart treated me with not only disrespectful but disdain. He found a new goat's milk and cheese supplier, Sharon Palmer, and wanted me to protect her within RTCHF/Rawesome's umbrella. I spoke with her, her voice sounded disingenuous. I was reluctant to get involved with her. James was insistent so I did but told him he had to be responsible for the quality of the foods she produced for us. He had to assure me that they were the quality we wanted. He assured me he would. I made the contract, signed and sent it to Sharon Palmer. She never returned it. A year later after the government started harassing her for goat's milk and cheese violations, James asked me to help her. I told him that Sharon did not return the contract and was selling outside of Rawesome boundaries and there was nothing I could do.
In 2009, Palmer began producing eggs for Rawesome members. I asked James every time I saw him if the chicken who laid the eggs were fed soy and truly organically raised by Sharon. He assured me unequivocally they were and sometimes was annoyed that I frequently asked. I had to because the eggs were too uniform as if they were massively produced and proficiently sorted by size. That does not happen on small farms producing only several hundred dozen eggs weekly.
Talks about buying a members' farm evolved without me. James teamed with Sharon on the idea that if James could raise money from Rawesome members, they could buy a farm together and supply goat's products, eggs and meats (chicken, pork, lamb and duck). James asked me to get involved and I spoke with Sharon. Sharon had no interest in healthy food for herself. Therefore, her interest had to be other than health. She solicited with appeals to the emotions and dreams for members. She would do it for a Rawesome-family farm environment where all members could come and enjoy the place that produced their organic food. It was an excellent idea but Sharon wanted all of the power of the farm without any contract to bind her to producing organic foods the way I wanted them produced. She refused to sign a contract. She wanted everything to be based on verbal agreements. Little did we know at the time, but she was feeding toxic commercial feeds to the goats and chickens and telling us her milk, cheese and eggs were organic.
I object to carrying her products with James. He yelled and screamed at me. He had done that with many volunteers but never to me. I was shocked, embarrassed, angry and sad. My brother in Rawesome was betraying us by getting involved with someone who does not care about healthy food and has ulterior motives. Was it just money she was after, I wondered? I refused to support members involvement in the proposed farm with Sharon's "un"Healthy Family Farm. To me, the farms name was another misnomer.
Larry Otting and many other members asked me about getting involved in buying the farm. I advised everyone against it but they were enamored with a dream. Again and again, Sharon refused to or failed to agree to anything in writing as to how she would farm organically for us and what our organic standards would be. James and other members were not business-like, nor diligent. The way money was raised, how it was turned over to Sharon, how she handled the farm and animals, nothing was in writing except a fraudulent deed.
The few times that I tried her "organic" chicken, I had problems with it. Once it was so salty from the outside in, it seemed as if it had been soak in brine (saltwater). I had a massive headache for about 20 hours. I get a headache rarely from dental problems (from radiation therapy years ago that dissolved bone around my teeth and damaged my teeth). That headache was not a dental problem. I brought it to James attention. He immediately got on the phone with Sharon and she assured him there was no salt involved. I knew she was lying because I could still taste the salt in my mouth. The next week the chicken was not salty tasting but I sent a sample to Doctors Data. The tests showed very high for sodium and told James. He called Doctors Data and inquired about the measurements. I had misinterpreted the measurements. It was not as high as I thought but still higher than organic chicken could be unless fed salt. So, even though that chicken had not been soaked in brine, salt had been fed to the chickens, against my standards. James screamed at me and said he did not mind that level of salt in the chicken and that I was full of shit.
Insults are the character of the person spouting them so I was not bothered by that but I was bothered by the fact that he was reckless with food quality. His complete control of food-quality was to accept whatever the supplier told him. Later, when emotions were calm, I confronted him on his attitude toward me. I asked him why he was so disrespectful toward me when I had never done anything offensive to him. He had no answer but said he would control himself better in the future.
In July 2005, an agent for the Los Angeles County Dept of Health Services trespassed onto Rawesome property and was told to leave. He did not have a warrant but refused to leave. He walked around inspecting members food and cited Rawesome for health violations. I immediately responded to the citation with a fax and certified letter stating that we were not open to the public and there jurisdiction failed. Five years passed before they returned.
On June 30, 2010, the LA County Dept of Health Services, FBI, FDA. CA Dept of Agriculture, Canadian Dept of Agriculture and LA Police raided with guns raised and pointed at the food. They confiscated thousands of dollars of Rawesome members' food and ordered the Club closed. We waited for them to file charges so we could finally take it to court immediately without having to wait for an outcome in civil court but they never charged James or me. I was traveling abroad but James called me and I was on the phone while the raid was still in progress. I returned three weeks early to deal with the situation. I asked James to produce testimonies from every volunteer who was present during the raid to initiate a lawsuit against all of the governmental agencies. I reminded him at least 11 times but he failed to have members write their testimonies. I asked for donation from members and thousands of other on my mailing list to help support a lawsuit against those agencies. My strategy was too wait for the statute of limitations on the raid to pass and file suit on June 28, 2011 but James prevented that from transpiring.
In July 2010, Los Angeles Building and Safety notified James and the owners of the Lot on which Rawesome functions to stop operations and vacate the premises. I was in the process of handling it but James went behind my back and got an attorney to mishandle the case and it is still unresolved a year later. James demanded that donations that I had collected for the lawsuit be used for the defense of the Lot. That was not the reason that I asked for the donations and I declined. James got furious and his attorney threatened to sue me for the funds. I said that he was welcome to try. As I picked up my food weekly at the club, James and I simply ignored each other.
In the Fall of 2010, I was having difficulty helping 3 particular patients who had suffered Multiple Chemically Sensitive. I was unsuccessful to abate their problems for the first time in years. My suggestions for their symptoms worked at least 80% of the time but now nothing I suggested worked and symptoms seemed to progress. I did not understand and felt miserable because I am often not just sympathetic but empathetic.
Concurrently, I was contacted by 4 people about the eggs and chicken from Sharon Palmer's HFF. Two of them had tested the eggs and chicken and found them high in contaminants only found in commercial food, including mercury. I showed the info to James and he got spiteful and angry, again. I sent an email to patients not to buy the eggs and chicken produced by HFF. I asked a patient/friend to send an egg and a chicken from HFF to a lab for analysis. Tests proved high in contaminants with one that did not show in other tests on HFF food, uranium. With such a variation of analysis of the supposedly the same animals producing the eggs, they should be very similar. That was the first evidence that the eggs were truly not from the same farm.
Two people who volunteered at Rawesome and helped raise funds for the farm and subsequently worked on the farm with Sharon for many months, called me and testified that they quite the farm because Sharon purchased commercial product and sold it to Rawesome as organically produced at HFF. They also stated that the feed for the goat's was commercial feed. They told me that they continued to work with Sharon because Sharon kept telling them she would buy organic next time, she could not afford it that week...and the next week... and on and on until many months later they quit; Sharon would not stop her fraud. They told James but James just yelled at them and did nothing about it. He even picked up eggs and chicken form the HFF where everything was revealed if he cared to look. The couple were so embarrassed because they had talked several members into giving money to a criminal like Sharon but hoped it would eventually work. Because I had warned them against investing in the farm with Sharon, they did not tell me until others exposed them first.
Larry Otting and I made arrangements to have the accusations investigated and witnesses formally interviewed by an investigative firm. The results of that investigation with photos are on www.UnhealthyFamilyFarm.com. I notified most of the Rawsome members from RTCHF database that was created for me by a volunteer at Rawesome. In January of 2011, James banned from the club members who exposed Sharon and him with HFF, including me.
Then came the events mentioned above on August 3, 2011, when the LA County Dept of Health Services, FDA, LA County Sheriff's Dept, and others raided, stole and destroyed about $40,000 worth of members foods. James Stewart, Sharon Palmer and Victoria Bloch were arrested.