July 20, 2017

A New Law Would Legalize Selling Home-Cooked Food in California

A few years back, Christina Nelson, an office manager and student, craved a more meaningful life. She soon joined the Slow Food movement in San Diego, and began to experiment with cooking local and sustainable meals prepared in traditional ways. Eventually, she learned how to make naturally leavened bread using locally milled whole grains. She loved the whole process and decided to make a career out of baking.

“It was something I’d always thought about as a kid, [that] it would be fun to run a café,” Nelson said. She landed a job working in a commercial bakery in Los Angeles, but the grueling commute from her new home in Orange County curtailed that dream. Deciding to make a go of it on her own, Nelson rented space in a shared commercial kitchen. But the hourly rental fees added up quickly during her 12-hour baking shifts, making for little, if any, profit.

Fortunately, Nelson could apply for a cottage food permit, thanks to a 2012 California law allowing home cooks to sell some non-perishable foods—granola, candies, baked goods—out of their home kitchens. The process that took months, and included an inspection visit from a local health regulator, and once she was […]

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