Eleven months, four city council meetings, two newspaper articles, and countless emails to various government employees later and I finally became my city’s first cottage food operator. Last year was a lesson in tenacity and bureaucracy. Happily, my small bakery is gaining steam with potential to become something much bigger in the future, and is paying dividends by building my confidence as an entrepreneur, allowing me creative freedom, and giving me pride of ownership.
In September 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Homemade Food Act, or AB 1616, into law. On January 1, 2013 it took effect. That did not mean, however, that every city or county in the state already had the law on its books, or that they even knew the law existed. In my slice of suburbia, the law was pushed through the city council and planning departments at the behest of little old relentless me. And it took nearly one full year to do it.
As of 2013, 42 states have adopted some variation of a cottage food law. At its core, cottage food laws legalize the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods produced in residential kitchens. A non-potentially hazardous food is classified based on its acidity, likelihood for developing harmful bacteria, and need for temperature control. Think: baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, toffee, and granola. There have not been any reported food-borne illnesses from non-potentially hazardous foods and most states have numerous provisions in place to ensure public health. It is at the state’s discretion what to allow on it’s non-potentially hazardous foods list, and ultimately each case worker in each county may accept or reject proposed foods, something I think should be rectified at the state level to avoid confusion and frustration for both government workers and cottage food operators.
Nonetheless, cottage food operations play an important role in helping slow economies recover. They support community-based, sustainable, slow food production. They reduce and prevent poverty and hunger by giving people access to healthy, culturally relevant foods in places where food deserts predominate. They allow people to become small business owners with minimal start-up costs, giving them opportunities for economic advancement in an unstable climate. These enterprises are valuable beyond measure when social and environmental welfare are concerned.
Does your state have a Cottage Food Law? To find out, check out this website I found informative and helpful: http://cottagefoods.org/laws/.
Honey Lavender Scones
I am constantly adapting recipes, experimenting with new flavors, and being inspired by the changing seasons. These scones are delicately flavored with lavender and very lightly sweetened with honey. Drizzle with a bit of honey, add pat of softened butter, and enjoy.
Makes 8 scones
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup rolled oats or chopped walnuts (the oats will gives the scones a chewy texture, while the walnuts will give them some crunch)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ cup frozen butter, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup honey
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Preheat your oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the lavender and oats or walnuts and mix to combine. Mix in the grated frozen butter. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the egg, honey, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir until just combined. With floured hands, pat the dough into a round about 1 inch thick and cut into 8 wedges. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over the wedges. Place on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until slightly browned.