(NaturalNews) A single Californian mom with six children is facing a possible jail sentence for selling homemade food on a Facebook community food group.
Several years ago, Stockton resident Mariza Ruelas joined a Facebook food and recipe trading group called 209 Food Spot. There, Ruelas and other cooking enthusiasts would trade recipes, organize pot luck dinners, and sometimes sell their home cooking to group members who lived nearby.
Occasionally, Ruelas would sell or trade her signature version of ceviche – a classic Latin-American seafood dish – to friends or contacts on 209 Food Spot.
One day, she received an order for her ceviche through the Facebook group from a person whom she thought was just another food enthusiast, but who in fact was a San Joaquin County undercover agent.
Sting operation targets dangerous moms and their home cooking
Ruelas and a dozen other members of the group were the target of an elaborate sting operation that was apparently needed to make sure moms don’t make a little extra cash selling their homemade cooking to other food lovers.
The offenders were charged with running food operations and engaging in business without proper permits.
All of the others charged accepted plea bargains involving probation, fines and community service, but Ruelas refused to give in and decided to fight her case in court.
If she loses, she faces up to two years behind bars.
“It was just, like, unreal that they were saying that you could face up to a year in jail,” Ruelas told Fox News.
On Facebook, Ruelas wrote:
“It was just some cooking me and my daughters would do for fun on a weekend we didn’t have anything to do.
“Never tried to be in business. Never tried making an extreme amount of money. I just enjoy cooking. Not something I want to do daily lol or even weekly.”
Prosecutors punish defendant for refusing unfair plea agreement
Ruelas chose to fight the charges because she felt that the terms of her plea bargain offer were unreasonable, and that she had received a harsher sentence for being outspoken.
From The Los Angeles Times:
“Most of the offers gave the defendants a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and $250 in fines. But Ruelas said hers was different – she was offered three years’ probation and 80 hours of community service. She said it was her punishment for refusing to take down her posts about the ceviche incident from social media.”
In fact, just after Ruelas refused to accept the plea agreement, prosecutors, instead of revising the plea bargain terms, decided to pursue two additional misdemeanor charges against the defendant. If those charges stick, Ruelas could serve as much as two years jail time.
The absurdity of this case is staggering. However necessary food safety laws may be, they are obviously not intended in spirit to apply to those who share – and yes, occasionally sell – their home cooking as a hobby.
It’s reasonably safe to assume that Mariza Ruelas gained a following for her ceviche because it was fresh, tasty and prepared with the kind of care that moms are famous for.
Meanwhile, fast food companies sell poisonous industrial garbage that is killing people and causing disease, GMO agricultural corporations spray their Frankenfood crops with carcinogens before foisting them on the public, and grocery store shelves are lined with processed foods that contain lots of contaminants and little nutrition.
But none of them are subject to criminal charges. Instead, imprisonment for food safety violations seems to be reserved only for people like Mariza Ruelas.
Nice to know that our tax dollars are being put to good use in funding elaborate sting operations designed to prevent us from ever having a chance to taste Mariza’s specialty dishes.
Written by Daniel Barker
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