The Food-Sharing Economy Is Delicious And Illegal—Will It Survive?

Photo: courtesy of Josephine

Sarah Kessler of Fast Company covers the obstacles facing home-cooks and the online platforms they use. She follows the story of the start up Josephine, and what they're doing to change the laws of homemade food regulation so that they can resume operations. Sustainable Economies Law Center and our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe is mentioned briefly. 

"Current laws criminalize both the Boston transplant who sells hundreds of lobster rolls each day out of his Brooklyn apartment and the Wisconsin farmers who want to sell baked goods they make in their kitchens. Anyone without the means or desire to rent a commercial kitchen (typically between $20 and $40 per hour in San Francisco) can only operate 'underground.' This, says Janelle Orsi, the executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), a nonprofit organization that advocates for grassroots economic empowerment, 'creates an inevitability that all food businesses will have this growth imperative, or that they [can’t] compete unless they are large.'"


"Health regulators at the local level, meanwhile, had no authority to compromise with Josephine and no legal discretion about whether to enforce the law. 'As city staff, we don’t write the laws or create the laws,' says Matthai Chakko, a spokesperson for the city of Berkeley, 'and if the laws changed, we would implement them accordingly.'

So Jorgensen looked into changing the law.

"You mean we just write it ourselves?" he asked a lawyer at the SELC’s legal advice clinic.

He was astounded to learn that, yes, most bills begin with a draft written by an interested party. He opened a Word document on his computer, pasted in the existing language of the food code, and started highlighting what he’d like to change."

Read the whole story here

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