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But it’s not just norms that are being upended. States are increasingly re-writing their food laws to enable a blossoming movement of home cooks who sell what are known as “cottage foods.”
These cottage food laws allow home cooks “to make and sell a wide range of products without the need to invest in commercial kitchen space or comply with the zoning and regulatory measures that govern larger producers.”
As I wrote last year at Hit & Run, these laws “help the entrepreneurs behind small startup [food] ventures operated out of the home opt out of the crushing regulations faced by restaurants and other food sellers.”
The laws largely permit home cooks to make and sell what are very awkwardly known as “non-potentially hazardous foods.” Cottage food laws generally consider baked goods and jams to be non-potentially hazardous but pickled foods and meats to be verboten.
Last month, California became the latest state to adopt a cottage food law. Counties in the state have already begun implementing the state’s new cottage foods law ahead of next month—when the law officially goes into force.
California’s law will no doubt help some of the same food entrepreneurs who might have taken advantage of selling at the Forage Underground Market.
All told, Rabins tells me the Underground Market helped serve as a springboard for more than 400 budding food entrepreneurs in San Francisco.
“What’s great is that many of the vendors who started out at the market as home cooks have since…. opened restaurants,” wrote Rabins in his recent post. “Others have gotten great press for their accomplishments, and still others are in stores and shops all over the city.”
And while this facet of Rabins’s work will end—the final Underground Market will take place in San Francisco on December 22—thankfully, Rabins appears set to remain on the scene forging new food ideas and entrepreneurs.
Over the summer, Rabins managed to raise more than $150,000 in a Kickstarter campaign designed to help Forage purchase equipment, hire staff, and pay construction and other fees to help launch Forage Kitchen, which Rabins bills as “a co-working space for food.”
That description fits nicely alongside his belief that food plays a larger role in transforming not just the individual lives of the entrepreneurs he’s helped.
“I think that what's really exciting about food right now is its ability to rework the way our country is organized,” Rabins tells me. “Away from faceless mega corporations with no accountability, and towards local artisans that you can talk to about the food they're serving you.”