by Paige Donner
For the longest time, in fact, up until just a week or two ago, folks in California were committing a crime when they made bread or apple sauce, say, at home and took it to the market to sell. It was illegal. But now, with the recently passed “California Homemade Food Act,” people can cook, bake, stew and roast to their heart’s delight at home, and sell their goods wherever they can get them in the door, under the tent or on the shelf.
AB 1616, which was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 21st and will take effect as of January 2013, is a real milestone for artisanal food makers, especially those who don’t have the capital or the funding to rent commercial food processing facilities which was previously a requisite in any food preparation meant for sale. Yes, even, technically, those church bakesales. [Who knew "Aunt Betty" was a cookie criminal!?]
But no more. This new law allows Californians to sell “non-potentially hazardous goods” they produce at home such as breads, jams and preserves, pickles, pickled vegetables, granola, nut mixes, coffees — but NOTHING that contains meat or dairy. The NO MEAT OR DAIRY clause is in there to protect consumers from the potentially hazardous bacteria like botulism.
Also, AB1616 caps the earning revenue of these businesses at $35,000 this year. That increases to $50,000 in 2015, significantly higher than in other states. For many small food producers, this will give them a good start and some are even already eyeing the Williams- Sonoma Artisan’s Market as a place to take their treats. If nothing else, it gives people a cottage industry outlet, keeps them legal, and might even be the germinating platform for the next Famous Amos or Newman’s Own. One never knows!
“Providing people with the opportunity to make and sell these foods directly to their neighbors at the local farmer’s market or through the specialty shop up around the corner is a matter of access to opportunity,” said Gatto. “I am happy that the Governor has joined me in my efforts to restore economic activity to our neighborhood economies and to the state of California by allowing people to produce and healthy, nutritious or culturally relevant foods in their homes.” – Assemblyman Mike Gatto
It’s thanks to Assemblyman Mike Gatto of California’s 43rd District who sponsored the bill that people now have the way cleared to pursue their artisanal food production dreams. Read More about the bill HERE.