Don’t mess with the New Jersey Home Bakers Association. The Washington Post reports that it was a lawsuit filed by the group that put pressure on state legislators and caused New Jersey to lift its ban on sales of homemade goods as of last week. And as the last state to do so, that means it’s legal to whip out that secret brownie recipe, fire up the oven, and get to selling.
Well, kind of. As with most things, there are varying restrictions from state to state. The general legalization of “cottage food,” the legal term for homemade goodies (#cottagecore vibes much?), means that items like baked goods and jams can be made in home kitchens and sold at places like farmers markets or through social media.
Wyoming is the state with the most freedom, with recent laws allowing the sale of any food items except meat (eggs, however, are on the menu). Rhode Island has the tightest restrictions, essentially only allowing farmers to sell their product, mostly only on their own farms. In Michigan, cottage food sales can’t exceed $25,000/year, and in Georgia home cooks must get a license, take a training course, have an application approved, and pass an inspection before selling. (A comprehensive list of state-by-state laws can be found at foragger.com/laws for those interested in starting up their own culinary company.)
But it looks like laws across the country are continuing to loosen, in part thanks to the Institute for Justice, a national law firm with a focus on “food freedom” for all. The group has been pushing back on stricter states and highlighting the economic empowerment that comes from cottage foods, especially in the midst of the pandemic. Now if they can just team up with every Home Bakers Association in the country, they’ll be unstoppable.