Some Good News For A Change

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 2:41am

There are so many examples of losses of freedom in the world today, that it's really worth celebrating the positive stories when we find them.

Here's a heartening report where a state (California no less!) recently passed an Act to legalize cottage food -- small home-based retail food producers. It may sound crazy that you need the state's permission to bake food in your own home and sell it to a small customer base, but at least (in this case) it's not being outlawed:

California Legalized Selling Food Made At Home And Created Over A Thousand Local Businesses (Forbes)

For decades, Stambler has followed traditional methods to bake loaves of French bread.  The ingredients are simple: distilled water, sea salt, wild yeast and organic grains.  Stambler even mills the grain himself.  To make it easier to steam loaves, he built a wood-fired oven in his own backyard.  Stambler’s loaves came in first place at the Los Angeles County Fair and the California State Fair.

Soon after that, Stambler got the idea to expand his hobby into a home business, which became Pagnol Boulanger.  Word of mouth spread.  In June 2011,The Los Angeles Times profiled Stambler and his bread in a full-page feature.

Unlike his bread, that profile was bittersweet.  He was busted the very next day.  As he described it, the health department “descended like a ton of bricks on the two stores that were selling my bread…they could no longer sell my bread.”

An inspector from the health department even showed up at his doorstep to make sure “no bread baking was taking place.”  For the next 18 months, Pagnol Boulanger was forced to go on hiatus.

That’s when he “became an activist,” Stambler said in an email interview.

He started researching other states’ cottage food laws, which allow homemade food to be sold.   To qualify as a cottage food, it must be designated by the state as “non-potentially hazardous,” meaning it has a low risk of spreading bacteria.

Out of the blue, he got a call from his Assemblyman, Mike Gatto, who read The Los Angeles Times profile, and wanted to help him and other small businesses.

Stambler helped Assemblyman Gatto draft the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616) to legalize cottage food.  AB 1616 was overwhelmingly popular with lawmakers, passing the California State Assembly 60 to 16 and unanimously passing the state Senate in August 2012.  Upon signing the bill, Gov. Jerry Brown praised AB 1616 as a way to “make it easier for people to do business in California.”

In January 2013, just a few days after the law went into effect, Stambler became the first person in Los Angeles County to sell homemade food legally.  Since he’s re-started his business, he hasn’t received a single complaint from consumers.

More home bakers have followed.  In Los Angeles County, there are almost 270 cottage food businesses.  Statewide, over 1,200 homemade food businesses have been approved.

Under the California Homemade Food Act, local governments cannot ban cottage food businesses based in private homes.  Instead, home-based entrepreneurs can sell their goods after passing a “food processor course” (which can be done online), properly labeling their goods and practicing common-sense sanitation when cooking and baking.  Those who want to start their own cottage food business legally need only register or obtain a permit, as either a Class A or Class B operation.

Click here to read the full article

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2 Comments

SingleSpeak's picture
SingleSpeak
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 30 2008
Posts: 496
OMG

The voice of reason prevails. I'm checking my calendar and it doesn't read April 1st. What's the rub? This is way too logical for California. Cognitive dissonance is setting in, but I'll survive. 

SS

 

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 320
step in the right direction

This is a huge first step, but I'm not sure I understand the sales limits imposed on home based food businesses.  I think I read it's $50,000/year?  Why? To whose benefit?

That said way to go California!  Hope this builds momentum nation-wide.

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