Democratizing The Homemade Food Economy
California's Cottage Food Law
In 2012 the Sustainable Economies Law Center worked closely with the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, the California State Grange and the Office of Assemblymember Mike Gatto to pass the California Homemade Food Act, which now allows certain kinds of small food enterprises to operate out of home kitchens, called "Cottage Food Operations" in the new law. Dozens of other organizations and businesses and countless individuals also supported the bill by writing letters, making phone calls and showing up at their legislators' offices and committee meetings to express their support. The bill would not have passed without the efforts of all these groups and individuals!
What Next on Homemade Food Law in California?
We are passionate about legalizing homemade food sales and providing increased opportunities for local food production and sales, especially for low-income entrepreneurs who don’t have the resources to access expensive commercial kitchens. In 2017, a bill was introduced in the California Legislature (AB 626) to expand the types of homemade foods allowed to be sold in California, especially hot meals. The bill, however, is sponsored by a for-profit, venture capital-backed tech company whose app facilitates that sale of home cooked hot meals and is continually being amended to benefit tech platform owners and their investors while leaving out the people who create the value for the tech companies: the home cooks!
This is a crossroads moment for the food movement: Will homemade food be taken over by the likes of Uber and Amazon, or will it build on the success of community-driven institutions like farmers’ markets and worker cooperatives? Help bring home cooks back to the negotiating table.