By Neil Thapar, Food & Farm Attorney
The holidays are by far my favorite time of year. I see family and friends, take time to reflect on the year behind me, and continuously listen to carols on the radio. Unfortunately, the way we celebrate the holidays in the United States also highlights some of the scariest characteristics of American society - mass consumerism, perpetuating national origin myths, and instantaneously combustible trees in our homes. Really, be careful with those Christmas trees!Read more
In February 2017, a bill was introduced in the California legislature to expand the types of homemade foods allowed to be sold in California, especially hot meals. The bill, AB 626, was introduced by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia and Joaquin Arambula, however, the bill is still in “spot bill” form, meaning that the full details are not yet written in the public record. The current bill just paints a picture in broad brushstrokes of what the two Assemblymembers seek to achieve. Nevertheless, this is really exciting and potentially groundbreaking legislation! However, after much deliberation and meetings with stakeholders around the state, we’ve decided that we will only support further homemade food legislation if it ensures some form of community ownership of any web platforms intermediating the sale of homemade foods.
Current California Law: For information about the current law, the California Homemade Food Act, (aka "cottage food" law) and legal information on how to start a home-based food business now, click here.
Our Policy Proposal: Click here to read a general overview of the issues and our ideas.
Click here to download our summary proposal (3 page pdf).
Click here to download our full policy proposal (8 page pdf).
Blogs: Our Food News Blog posts about changing the law around homemade food in California:
- "A New Homemade Food Act" (April 13, 2016): an intro about efforts made in 2016 to change the law
- "Update on the New Homemade Food Bill" (May 2, 2016): a more in-depth discussion about ownership and control of our food system and an update on the legislative efforts
- "Preliminary Feedback on New Homemade Food Sales Policy" (October 4, 2016): a report-back from a series of conversations in Southern California discussing nuts and bolts issues to be addressed in potential legislation
- "Nuts and Bolts: More Ideas for Regulating Homemade Food in California" (October 6, 2016): a discussion of some more nuanced issues to be addressed in terms of food handling and preparation
- "Stockton Mom Prosecuted for Selling Homemade Food" (November 10, 2016): reaction to the prosecution of Mariza Ruelas
- "New Homemade Food Legislation - 2017" (February 16, 2017): update on a new bill, AB 626, and our law center's take on it.
Please write to Christina@theselc.org if you have concise feedback to share via email or if you’d like to invite us to a more in-depth conversation with your organization or community group.
By Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Director of Economic Democracy, Ricardo Nuñez
There has been a constant stream of depressing and demoralizing news this summer. A dysfunctional political system, continuing police violence against our black and brown brothers and sisters, and an economic system that continues to exacerbate income inequality. At times like these, we only need to look within our own communities to find hope and renewal. SELC Summer Institute interns teamed up with interns from Project Equity and the Community Economic Justice Clinic at EBCLC to take a day to visit spaces of an economy that redirects wealth and control back to communities; an economy based on solidarity. Below, our summer interns share their reflections on the spaces we visited, spaces where individuals are taking collective action to live out the solidarity economy SELC and our allies are working to build.
Thank you to Design Action Collective, the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, Mandela Food Cooperative, Arizmendi Lakeshore Cooperative, the Addison Court Housing Cooperative and land trust, and Phat Beets for sharing your stories of resilience and solidarity!Read more
Lauren Gurley of In These Times writes about what's needed to build a local, sustainable food movement in Chicago and Illinois. A Sustainable Economies Law Center event in Chicago that brought together a stakeholders in the local food movement is mentioned.Read more
The California Seed Exchange Democracy Act will be up for a vote in the State Senate Agriculture Committee on June 21. We need your help to pass this bill to legalize seed sharing!Read more
Photo Credit Gabrielle Lurie, Special To The Chronicle
Carloyn Said of the San Francisco Chronicle writes about regulations around selling home-cooking in California, and the movement to change regulations to allow platforms like Josephine to operate legally. SELC Policy Director, Christina Oatfield, is quoted in the article.Read more
In late February of this year California State Assemblymember Cheryl Brown introduced AB 2593, a bill to legalize the sales of homemade food, including hot meals, within certain limits. The bill would provide a dramatic expansion of California citizens’ ability to legally sell homemade food. Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) was heavily involved in advocating for the California Homemade Food Act of 2012, a.k.a the cottage food law, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gatto. So we wanted to post about this new bill, although SELC is not sponsoring or supporting it at this time.Read more
In anticipation of the Community Capital Conference coming up in Portland, Oregon, movers and shakers in the local economy and community investing realms are being interviewed about what they are looking forward to discussing and learning.
SELC's Policy Director Christina Oatfield spoke with Hatch Oregon's Hatch the Future podcast about our Grassroots Finance and Farmland programs, our Local Economies Securities Act legislation, the early development of SELC, and her own path to becoming a lawyer without going to law school.Read more
In 2016, as part of our Save Seed Sharing campaign, Sustainable Economies Law Center worked with partners across California to pass AB 1810, the California Seed Exchange Democracy Act, which protects seed libraries and exchanges from legal barriers imposed by the state seed law. California became the fourth state, behind Minnesota, Nebraska, and Illinois, to pass legislation recognizing the rights of farmers and gardeners who save seeds and share them within their community. We couldn't have done it without the help, advice, and commitment from a host of partners and collaborators within the broader food and agriculture advocacy community. THANK YOU!
Do you live in a state without the Seed Exchange Democracy Act? Do you want to advocate for seed democracy? We've created a toolkit of resources to help you do just that, including sample legislation, local resolutions, letters of support, and more! As part of our commitment to transformative grassroots policymaking, we've set out to create replicable models for state-level policy change that can be used by community-based advocates around the country. Click below to download the toolkit!
Last Friday the California State Legislature passed AB 234 - a bill to improve the law affecting "community food producers" and gleaners who provide fresh fruits and vegetables to people in California.
You can read more about the bill and legal background in our previous Food News Blog post here.
The bill is now on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature or veto. This is the last step in the lawmaking process. We will know by October 11 whether this bill will become law effective January 1, 2016. We think that it is very likely that the Governor will sign the bill. We will write a follow-up post after the Governor announces what he has decided to do with the bill.Read more