Support families and boost local economies through food freedom

Now more than ever, people need the freedom to buy, sell, and eat the food of their choice.  Selling homemade food provides many the ability to support themselves and their families from the safety of their home.  And it allows consumers to buy and stay local.  That’s why states nationwide are giving people more food freedom.

Heather Russinko is a single mother of a 16-year-old son. Baking became a way for her to bond with her son and heal after leaving an abusive relationship with his father, and to supplement her income and save for her son’s college education. She soon found out that this side job was illegal in New Jersey, even though every other state allows some form of homemade food sales. She and home bakers across the state are fighting in court and in the state legislature for their right to sell home-baked goods to consumers.

Every year, more states expand their homemade food laws (also known as “cottage food” laws) with forty-nine states and the District of Columbia allowing the sale of these goods in varied ways.  These laws enable local producers to meet consumer demand with fewer restrictions, while maintaining public health and safety. Common reforms include:

  • Products. Expanding allowed foods to include both shelf-stable and perishable items.
  • Venues. Allowing the sale of these foods at more places, including from home (pick-up and delivery), online, and to retailers.
  • Permits. Removing permitting requirements so producers can get to work without red tape.
  • Revenue. Eliminating revenue caps on gross revenue that prevent home businesses from growing.

These reforms are mindful of health and safety concerns by requiring producers to follow common sense sanitation practices and label their food as homemade.  And with the power of online reviews, home-based food entrepreneurs have ample accountability because it is their name, reputation, and livelihood on the line. Consumers are armed with all the information they need to decide whether they want to purchase homemade food.

IJ can quickly identify opportunities in your state to expand your state’s law. If you already allow the sale of some homemade foods, you have seen first-hand the incredible benefits this industry provides, including:

  • Job creation. Two years after Minnesota expanded its homemade food law, more than 3,000 cottage food producers registered with the state, each representing a small business. By 2020, the number had swelled to 4,000.
  • Women empowerment.Most homemade food producers are women and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
  • Consumer choice.Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher, vegan, or other specialized diet. Food freedom fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.
  • Food security. When a disruption occurs, local food producers can feed their communities while the national system rebounds. 

Food freedom will give people across the country a chance to claim their piece of the American dream—from their own kitchens.

IJ can help you adapt our Model Food Freedom Bill to your state.  Wyoming, North Dakota, and Utah have implemented similar reforms, and narrower laws continue to be expanded year after year.

Home gardens

During the pandemic, people have become increasingly interested in gardening as both a hobby and a way to feed their families.  But many towns and cities are abusing their zoning powers to decree (and actively enforce) regulations outlawing vegetable gardens—just because they do not consider vegetables as attractive as flowers.  IJ has a model law for states to ensure that municipalities don’t stop people from using their property to do something as healthy and harmless as growing vegetables.

 

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