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Getting Homemade Foods off the Black Market

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's California News page, Organic Transitions page, and our Breaking The Chains page.
There's no doubt a homemade food renaissance has taken root. All around the country, home picklers, jammers, and bakers have been looking for ways to transform hobby food production into small artisan businesses. In many states, however, selling food you've made in your home is against the law.

In California, for instance, it's currently a misdemeanor for home artisans to sell their goodies in the open marketplace. Case in point: Last June, Department of Public Health officials in San Francisco shut down ForageSF's popular Underground Market, which featured mostly home producers, because its sellers were not compliant with local and state regulations.

But due to a campaign launched by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), the laws might change this year. The Oakland-based SELC recently teamed up with Los Angeles Assembly Member Mike Gatto to introduce the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616),  a "cottage food" bill that would legalize the sale of certain foods produced in home kitchens.

"There are a lot of hoops to get a food business started. That's what prompted the cottage food law campaign," says SELC research associate and campaign coordinator Christina Oatfield. Founded in 2010 by attorneys Janelle Orsi and Jenny Kassan, the SELC provides legal research and assistance to foster local and sustainable economies and business ventures.


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