Working for change in the kitchen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt present, Louisiana prohibits the sale of home-baked goods to the public.  That’s right:  a citizen cannot make a loaf of bread, a birthday cake, or a pan of brownies and legally sell them in this state.  Should a home baker want to “go legal”, the baker must put in a commercial kitchen, and it can’t simply be a home kitchen improved to commercial standards.  It has to be located a specific number of FEET from the home kitchen, in a  separate space.  In other words, most start-up home baking businesses are dead in the water, thanks to Louisiana’s climate of over-regulation.

Baked goods–items safely stored at room temperature–are a “low risk” food, meaning the potential foodborne harm is minimal.  At least 25 other states recognize this fact and have sensible home baking regulations, called “cottage food laws”, specifically crafted to encourage small-scale home based entrepreneurs.  (Most states’ laws distinguish between low risk foods allowed for home production and high risk foods specifically limited to commercial, non-home kitchens.)  For example, shoppers visiting any grocery store in Vermont will have dozens of choices for bread and sweets:  not just four or five big business labels.

Soon, Louisianians might have the same opportunity, thanks to the good efforts of south Louisiana baker Roxane Daigle.  After someone reported her home cupcake business and the Louisiana Board of Health shut her business down, she began researching cottage food laws and talking to her legislators.  Senator Rick Ward of Port Allen agreed to sponsor a cottage food bill, which is presently being drafted.  The bill will go before the legislature this spring.

To get involved with the reform of home baking laws in Louisiana, check out the Louisiana Cottage Food Law Facebook page and contact your legislators.  Read more about Roxane Daigle’s efforts at the Small Food Business blog.

Isn’t democracy wonderful?

15 thoughts on “Working for change in the kitchen

    • Spread the word….it’s a very sensible proposal that works in so many other states. This offers an opportunity for rural micro economic development—virtually every person in a house has an oven.

  1. OH Yeah!!! So excited about the far reaching word about the proposed Louisiana Cottage Food Law. The magic of the press but more so the beauty of readers who take the time to read and comment and get involved in down home human nature projects. Please continue to be involved….a chance for your voice to be heard in government. Contact your senator/representative (do both, since the bill has to be approved by both houses to move on) and tell them you support this bill and its’ contributing value to the economy of our communities. God Bless!!!

  2. Hmmmm…….wish I could sell my food with no regulations. Doesn’t seem fair to us “brick and mortor” guys that have to follow every law to the “T”, and get regular inspections and required training. I realize most posters here are home bakers, and could side with a law like that , but how would you feel about it if I could do what yall do for a living without the same regulations and standards that are required to do so and make money? Wouldn’t be the same would it? Walk a mile in my shoes, I’ll bet you’ll feel different.

    • We’re not talking about selling any and all foods from home kitchens, just low risk ones. Home bakers aren’t ever going to generate enough volume to put bigger operators out of business. But I’m all for government getting out of the way of small scale entrepreneurs. Why should it take a huge amount of capital to get started? Especially in rural areas, where the volume of sales might never justify the large investment in a commercial kitchen. This works in so many other states….no reason it can’t work in Louisiana. Our state has a long history of ridiculous protectionist laws….why do florists need a license? Who could possibly be harmed by a floral arrangement? The florists simply don’t want increased competition. Ditto for the funeral directors….they fought the monks of St Joseph’s Abbey all the way to the Supreme Court to try to prohibit the monks’ sale of plain cypress caskets. They lost, after years of litigation. If your business is delivering a quality product at a good price, you shouldn’t fear competition.

    • I can understand your concern and approach to objecting to the passage of the La. Cottage Food Law. However, fear not, a simple, though passionate, home baker will not generate enough business to put you out of business, IF, you have a quality product and your customer satisfaction is paramount in delivering that product. If the home baker does so choose to go further, then they will also follow your requirements and have to take the more stringent route that you have taken. Most of them certainly will not generate enough income to have as an investment for your route. BUT if they are fortunate enough to find themselves in a financial position to further their investments, then VOILA!!! they will be on your level and have to follow those guidelines. Certainly there is enough ‘room’ in Louisiana for them……..and the benefactors occupy the same space, only more of them. I wish the home bakers well …… a boost to community economy ……. and I LOVE home baked goods.

  3. Not everyone’s idea of “sanitary” is the same. Flowers and caskets can’t kill, but food born pathogens can. The bread may be a “low risk” item, but what went on in that kitchen or pans before the bread was made? To become a florist, all you need is an occupational license from the local, a Fed ID, and a state tax ID. Same as a grass cutter and a casket maker. The real issue is food safety not increased competition.

    • No, to become a florist in LA you must pass an exam in order to receive a floral license. It’s an absolutely ridiculous requirement. LA is the ONLY state requiring florists to pass a test. Guess who grades the test? Licensed florists! The test is notoriously subjective in its grading.

      Food related illnesses are real, but baked goods are super low risk. Bread ferments….goes sour…yet we still bake it and eat the results with no harm (and appreciation of improved tast thanks to extended fermentation). It is safely stored at room temperature for long periods of time, again presenting no risk to the consumer other than staleness. Ditto for cakes…the high sugar content is an excellent preservative. I daresay most home kitchens are cleaned to a higher standard than your average fast food restaurant kitchen. And small scale sales–person to person marketing–allows the consumer to decide if the risk is acceptable to him/her. Frankly, I’d take my chances on a home kitchen over the average big box supermarket deli/bakery counter, if only on the basis of lower volume equalling lower risk through potential cross contamination.

      This reminds me of the current debate related to food trucks in New Orleans. Some established restaurants want to keep them out of the Central Business District, yet this is the very neighborhood with sufficient population density to warrant mobile food vendors.

  4. I don’t bake anything. I really don’t take my stance from a fear of competition. I do patronize the Red Stick Farmer’s market every Saturday though! I’m the guy with the tattered blue jeans, flannel shirt, and chef shoes on! Good luck with your cause!

  5. That is ridiculous. So churches, Girl Scout troupes, and schools can’t hold bake sales either? Or does the State conveniently “look the other way” on those?

    • Since bake sales are one time events, I don’t think the state bothers them much. But if the Board of Health receives a report of a home baker selling for profit, BofH can and will shut it down. That’s how the baker referenced in my post became an activist…..someone reported her small cupcake business to the BofH.

  6. I am a homebaker and sure hope that this proposal is passed. I only heard about the Cottage Law proposal a few months ago when searching for some beautiful cupcakes,I had previously seen on-line, sold at a Florida’s farmer’s market. Under the site was an article that Florida had passed a cottage law proposal which allows certain home baked goods to be sold without the costs of opening a business. At that time I began searching to see if there was a cottage law in Louisiana, found out about Roxanne Daigle’s progress on getting a cottage law proposal passed in Louisiana, emailed my state senator for support of this bill and hopefully he and others can see the benefits of such a proposal. It sure would help, I opened a small cake shop several years ago but had to close after 18 months.

  7. I am a neophite homebaker, been at it for 10 or 12 years now. I have on my bucket list a WFO, but I don’t make that much bread. I started baking when I started noticing all the family bakeries closing like Dufrene’s, Jumonvilles, MacKenzies, etc…. now everyone is so enamoured with the grocery stores hot bread in the check out lane, they don’t remember what good bread tasted like. Store bought loaf bread has such a high hydration (to give it the appearrance of being fresh longer) and enough chemicals to prevent mold I just can’t understand why more people are not complaining. I guess in todays instantanious life style they will give up great for fast. Who knows? I throw down the gaunlet on king cakes! Lets under cook them then squeeze copious amounts of fake fruit filling and sprinkle them with sugar?

    I guess part of it is also you don’t see all the small Mom and Pop groceries that you did back when. When they had a small meat counter, cut thier own meat, sold daily sandwichs or plate lunches and had their own fresh made bread daily.

    I don’t understand why people would not jump at the chance to get good bread from an artisian baker. Heck did anyone see any real rye anywhere to make reubens after St.Paddys the other day?

    Sorry I’ll get off this soap box. As to the above persons complaint to sanitary conditions, I would perfer to see artisian bakers doing local customers and drop offs like the old days with milkmen. I would pay a premium for good bread delivered. Well I would have 10 years ago anyway. I wish you luck on your fight, and I wish I could attend you spring cooking academy. Looks like fun!

    PS Just got here like your site.

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