Cottage food, not to be confused with cottage cheese, is food produced in someone’s house, rather than in a commercial kitchen, and offered up for sale. You’d be most likely to find cottage food at farm stands and farmers markets, and several states are taking a second look at food regulations to decide whether they should loosen restrictions on homemade food. Think homemade pickles, cookies, breads, and cheeses.
Advocates of cottage food say allowing sales means more food freedom, and opponents worry about food safety. Let’s take a look at some of the cottage food rules in different states, and you can decide for yourself: what do you think is a fair way to regulate cottage food? Should it be regulated at all?
Cottage Food in Texas
In Texas, the state legislature recently relaxed the rules on food sales, but some cottage food makers are opposed to some of the labeling requirements still in effect. They feel that asking home food-makers to list all ingredients on the label is way too much. When you buy a cookie at a coffee shop, for example, you don’t get to see the ingredients list.
Over in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is deciding early this week about whether to allow cottage food sales and whether to allow farms to sell raw milk on-site. Right now, New Hampshire allows people to get their home kitchens licensed, and they can sell goods produced in a licensed home kitchen. The new rules would be even more laid back, doing away with the licensing all together.
Oklahoma’s Petition for Cottage Food
A woman in Oklahoma has begun collecting signatures to allow cottage food sales from goods produced in unlicensed, uninspected home kitchens. The petition is online and already has over 2000 signatures.
From what I’ve read about cottage food laws, the main things they dictate are:
- Whether you can sell food produced in home kitchens at all.
- Where you can sell food produced in home kitchens.
- Whether home kitchens need to be licensed, inspected, or both.
- What homemade foods people can sell.
Given those variables, what cottage food rules seem reasonable to you?
Image Credit: Cottage Food photo via Shutterstock