I recently started graduate school, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. It has been an interesting experience being back in a classroom setting, and the presentations, papers, and numerous reading assignments have felt like Christmas morning; excitement and fun all wrapped in a bow (that's my sarcasm, coated in tears). However, my latest assignment in one of my classes really intrigued me, as a class we became citizen journalist covering the topic of food. And even better, universities in the U.K. and India were also joining in on the fun. Food across the globe! This was not the name of the assignment, but that sounds pretty good, right?
Since we were covering food my initial thought was to have coverage of me eating cupcakes...cause that is news worthy coverage, but it lacks that academic flare, so it was a no-go. Since cupcakes lost out, I decided to talk about the California Cottage Food Act. If you are unfamiliar, let me give you a little background. Prior to 2012 it was illegal to cook food in your home and sale it anywhere, including farmer's markets, fairs, expos, conventions, etc. I'm sure it was being done, but technically it was illegal. Mark Stambler, a bread baker, who has won awards and participated in many fairs including the L.A. County Fair and California State Fair, learned first hand how illegal it was to bake at home and sale those goods.
Stambler was visited by a health inspector in 2011 and told to suspend operations after years spent competing and making a living at baking. Well Stambler took action and partnered with his Assemblymen to draft a new bill called the California Homemade Food Act. The bill was passed in 2012 and today there are over 1,200 entrepreneurs working out of their home and sharing their goods at farmer's markets, expos, and fairs all over the state. There are also over 30 additional states that have similar laws that allow them to do the same. Mark became the first person in California to legally sale homemade food. Now bakers, jam makers, coffee and tea enthusiast, etc. can work out of their home, saving thousands in small business expenses. I was able to talk to Mark via e-mail to hear his story, it was great for my class project, but as a baking addict and cupcake consumer, it is even better learning about trailblazers in our deliciously sweet community. Check out our conversation below:
Hi Mr. Stambler. I'm a journalism student at CSUN and I'm covering the Food Cottage Law as apart of my student research project. ***Im also a cupcake baker who blogs aboutmy adventures at www.cupcakeseverywhere.com If possible I would love to hear about the journey to get Food Cottage passed and what you would love to see in the future with passionate home owners using their talents at home to grow small businesses.
Hi David -- Passing the California Homemade Food Act -- the state's Cottage Food Law -- was definitely a team effort. While it was the LA County Health Department's 2011 ban on the sale of my homemade bread that sparked the drive to write and pass the legislation, it would not have been possible to do so without the help of the staff of my Assemblyman, Mike Gatto, and the staff of the Sustainable Economies Law Center. It was part of a nationwide move towards legalizing the sale of homemade food: when we started the effort, the sale of homemade food was legal in, I believe, 18 states. By the time Gov. Brown signed the bill into law in September 2012, something like 32 states had cottage food laws on the books. I know that thousands of people across California have now taken advantage of California's Cottage Food Law, and I only hope that the California Department of Public Health lengthens the list of not-potentially-hazardous foods that are permitted to be sold when made in private homes.