Caveat Venditor: Cottage Food Laws Great in Theory, Often Less So in Practice

So-called "cottage foods" laws are popping up around the country in response to the growing demand for local foods on the part of buyers and sellers. Generally, these laws help the entrepreneurs behind small startup ventures operated out of the home opt out of the crushing regulations faced by restaurants and other food sellers. But in spite of the good intentions behind the laws, they sometimes merely create a parallel system of numbingly stupid regulations.

WiThePeople, a project launched by a freelance journalist in New York State, has a new video up that takes a thoughtful look at one woman who's trying to operate under the state's cottage food laws and finding it a tough slog. Here's an excerpt from the video:

Julia Sforza opened her jam business, Half-Pint Preserves, in April 2011.  She’s a stay-at-home mom who wanted to start a home-based business so she could spend more time with her three-year-old son.  Julia got very involved with local foods, particularly canning, about two years ago, which eventually led to her interest in jam-making.  Already, Julia is a finalist in the national Good Food Awards competition, but she is the only finalist without a website or business email address.

That's not Sforza's choice, it's one of the many inane requirements of New York State's cottage foods law. Whole video, which is well worth 12 minutes of your time, is below.

Recent info on cottage food laws (existing and proposed) in California, Texas, and Florida. My earlier Reason post on New York State's ban on cutting the cheese here.

Baylen Linnekin is the director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and increasing "culinary freedom," the right of all Americans to grow, sell, prepare and eat foods of their own choosing. To join or learn more about the group's activities, go hereTo follow Keep Food Legal on Twitter, go here; to follow Linnekin, go here.

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  • ||

    So is it valid to say that New York's cottage food laws jammed her up?

    (I can't believe I made that joke.)

  • Tim||

    You motherfucker...

  • ||

    I'm sorry, dude. It just sort of slipped out.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Please try to preserve some decorum in the comments.

  • Tim||

    You have to take a hard line with Epi, trust me.

  • ||

    hey, at least he didn't produce a Always Sunny "jamming" medley and post it on youtube.

    that's my job.

  • ||

    Uh, link please?

  • ||

    damn, so now I actually have to do it....

  • ola||

    You mothersmuckers...

  • ||

    beautiful.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    More fallout from "The Jungle" by Leftist icon Upton Sinclair.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I wonder if she'd be restricted from using Amazon? It wouldn't be her website or email. I suspect the NY DOA wants to keep people "safe" from her jam.

  • Robert||

    No, and i don't buy her taxation guess, either. I think it's that the exemptions are specifically made for the little, local guy, and that the lawmakers decided selling on the Internet takes you out of that category. It would seem, however, that selling to a distributor who then sells via the Internet would be allowed.

  • Spoonman.||

    That is shockingly stupid. What well-meaning person could possibly think that requirement is a good idea?

  • ||

    Half-Pint Preserves

    MIDGETIST!

  • ¢||

    good intentions

    You sound new here.

    Also, that Science 2.0 link doesn't work, because they're assholes.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    She's just fortunate that legislators and their lobbyist overlords are letting her do any of this in the first place.

    She wants to make a product. I want to buy that product. For some reason we allow regulators to get in the middle of that.

  • ||

    SOMALIA.

  • Apatheist||

    Is making homemade jam and jelly trendy now? Down here it's just normal. My aunt makes the best peach jam. She sells some on the side too I can assure you she wouldn't follow these regulations one way or the other. If you are selling out of your house how hard can it be to avoid the attention of regulators?

  • ||

    I don't really like cottage cheese that much, anyway.

  • ||

    Try the large curd, 4% milkfat. It's much better.

  • ||

    I like the Curds and think we should've given them their own state.

  • Tim||

    The PUNS! They burn, they buuurrn.

  • ||

    What are you, right of Attila the Pun?

  • ||

    Saints preserves me, what have I done?

  • ||

    Saint my fault.

  • o2||

    we did in utah, plus extra special underwears & stuff...to protect against talking lizards

  • BakedPenguin||

    Turkey is a NATO ally, and naturally low-fat, while the government thinks the Curds cause obesity.

  • ||

    My doctor is glad that Iran after eating all of that rich food.

  • Tim||

    Did you cut back on the Greece?

  • ||

    I've been Armenian to.

  • Tim||

    (shakes fist)

  • ||

    Get India here! The cold outside will be the death of you.

  • ||

    Turkey Bacon, Canadian Bacon's long awaited sequel.

  • El Goodo||

    Ummm... uhhh... Honduras?

  • ||

    What's the government's position on Chile? Too spicy?

  • Tim||

    Uganda bring that up again?

  • ||

    Unfair! Un-Peruvian!

  • ||

    All this food talk is making me Hungary.

  • ||

    You're Italian me!

  • Tim||

    Somebody Finnish this.

  • ||

    Norway, dude!

  • WTF||

    What SOMALIA with you people!?

  • Tim||

  • ||

    Stop Russian us!

  • ||

    I Canada change the laws of physics, Captain!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Quit Stalin, JW.

  • ||

    Try the large curd, 4% milkfat

    This is the last time I'm gonna tell you to stay outta my fridge.

    (peach and raspberry preserves mixed in...mmmmmmmm)

  • ||

    Now that dude really seems to know exactly what the deal is. WOw.

    www.invisi-browse.tk

  • bill quoted||

    Winner winner backyard raised chicken dinner

  • bill quoted||

    Winner winner backyard raised chicken dinner

  • bill quoted||

    It's Brunswick stew for you squirrels

  • I'm waiting for the jam||

    It's OK to sell the stuff, but only if you sell it on the hush-hush like a drug dealer.

  • wondering||

    $400 for a two year license doesn't seem too burdensome - that's not much more than $15 a month. Worth it to be on the internet, be able to use commercial equipment, have world-wide exposure. If $15+ a month is too high a hurdle, there might not be much of a business there.

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