Imagine a world where people could sell food prepared in their own kitchens. Sounds like a pre-Industrial Revolution bake sale, but it could very well be the near future. That is, if the Cottage Food Bill passes. The California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), which is currently in Congress, would make California the 33rd state to support cottage food.
The legislation, which was introduced in February, would allow those who get permits to cook and sell their homemade foods directly to consumers or at farmers markets -- but not just any items. Food must be "non-potentially hazardous food," in other words, foods such as baked goods, jam, granola, popcorn, herb and tea blends, nut mixes and dried fruit. Purveyors still must obtain permits and would be required to provide a list of all ingredients and, in some cases, an expiration date on the goods they sell.
As Food Safety News reports, the bill was introduced by State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who represents the 43rd District (that's Los Angeles). After Gatto read about the struggles that Mike Stambler, an avid baker and one of the founders of Los Angeles Bread Bakers (LABB), faced when selling his homemade bread, the assemblyman decided to take on the task of supporting cottage food.
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Stambler told California Newswire that he wanted to "see if there was a legitimate way for a small-scale bread baker such as myself to start a micro-enterprise without going deeply into debt."