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.