HB 5837 is a newly proposed bill by Rep. Pam Byrnes in Michigan which amends 2000 PA 92, entitled “Food law of 2000,”
If passed the amendments listed below will exempt a “cottage food operation,” defined as a person who annually produces or packages less than $15,000 worth of “non-potentially hazardous food” in a kitchen of that person’s primary domestic residence, from the licensure and regulation mandates that apply to regular commercial food producers.
(H) “COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION” MEANS A PERSON WHO PRODUCES OR
PACKAGES NON-POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS FOOD IN A KITCHEN OF THAT
PERSON’S PRIMARY DOMESTIC RESIDENCE.
(N) “NON-POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS FOOD” MEANS A FOOD THAT IS NOT
POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS FOOD AS THAT TERM AS DEFINED IN THE FOOD
CODE, WHICH INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO:
BAKED GOODS, JAMS, JELLIES, CANDY, SNACK FOOD, CEREAL, GRANOLA, DRY MIXES, VINEGAR, AND DRIED HERBS.
NON-POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS FOOD DOES NOT INCLUDE
HOME-CANNED LOW-ACID OR ACIDIFIED VEGETABLES, HOME-CANNED SALSA, OR
HOME-CANNED FOOD; FOOD SERVICE ITEMS; READY-TO-EAT MEALS, MEAT,
SANDWICHES, CHEESE, OR CUSTARD PIES; GARLIC IN OIL; FOOD THAT
REQUIRES TEMPERATURE CONTROL FOR SAFETY; AND BOTTLED WATER, HOME-
PRODUCED ICE PRODUCTS, AND OTHER BEVERAGES AND PRODUCTS.
In plan English that means that if I (or you) say wanted to bake some cookies(or other food products listed above) and sell them on the corner, I would not need a licensed, inspected, and usually expensive commercial kitchen facility to do so. For example, the chocolate Matzoh recipe I provided in my last post could be used to create a home “cottage food operation” business.
On a personal level, I am excited about this potential amendment. As you might know from this blog, I am starting a microgreens business with the plan to grow and sell them at the farmers market. I thought that as long as I am sitting at the market, maybe I can make/grow something else to sell. Baked goods seemed to be a logical choice. The problem with my baked goods idea of say making a few dozen biscuits, cookies, pizza bread, and/or dinner rolls was that I would have to find a commercial kitchen to prepare them. For one, these are not easy to find, and for two the expense of renting a kitchen for the potential sale of say $10-$50 a week worth of biscuits would make the venture not viable.
But if this new amendment passes, my home baking business and 1000’s of other “cottage food operation” wannabes in Michigan can be off in running.
Why is this important? Because it will open the flood gates for a variety of locally prepared, and value added food producers to enter the market. This can be a huge boost to the local food movement and local economy. Most would be cottage food businesses already have use of a home kitchen with the equipment needed to bake, and with a little expense, can even produce canned (jarred) items.
For example, an apple tree in the backyard can be harvested and turned into a hundred jars of apple butter. An herb garden can be used to produce a line of flavorful vinegars. A big squash or pumpkin crop can be turned into a holiday pie business. And in my case, a few pounds of Michigan grown wheat/flour can be transformed into potential extra income for my business. The small cottage businesses can eventually grow beyond a one person home kitchen enterprise into larger businesses.
This amendment (if it passes) does not solve for all value added food product that can be produced from locally sourced ingredients, but it is a start. What I do feel is needed along with these new potential amendments is a state government programs of say regional commercial kitchen facilities run through an agricultural extension service. These facilities will provide a certified commercial kitchen with equipment, training, packaging, refrigeration, and freezing resources. If established, these facilities can provide an economic catalyst of turning inexpensive Michigan food commodities into a value added products. As a result, more value added regional food specialty will be produced.
And what could happen if Michigan supports an economy of value added, local food, regional specialties?
(Note: Here comes one foodies Hyped Out Passionate Rant:)
Michigan can become the “Nappa Valley of the Midwest.“
Here me out. This sounds a little crazy right? But I feel there is a huge food tourist potential here for our economically depressed state. Michigan is nicknamed, The Wolverine State, yet there are no wolverines here (beside the U of M Mascot). We are The Automotive and/or The Auto State, but that future seems uncertain at best. We are also nicknamed The Lady of Lake. I am not sure how Michigan was nicknamed after a medieval Arthurian Legion, but I do not see how even the magical sword Excalibur will save us from our financial woes. Our last nickname, Water-Winter Wonderland, does have a little ring to it, and some truth. We are a great state for tourism and water recreation, and part of that tourism is food tourism.
Put simply, Michigan needs a draw to get people to make the either left or right turn when driving on route 80 to come to our state. My Mom came to visit me this weekend from NJ, and I never realized until now that Michigan is not on the way to anything. When driving across the country, from east or west, you could pass our state without as much as buying a soda and a bag of chips. This means that we need a reason for people to come here, and I feel that reason can be the food.
How does this little new amendment help turn Michigan into my unofficial Michigan tourism representative sloganeer with, “The Nappa Valley of the Midwest?” I feel that these new cottage businesses will help provide the creativity, inventiveness and imagination to help make it happen. Put another way, we need a reason for Martha Stewart, Oprah, Ellen, Michelle Obama, the Food Network, The Splendid Table, the Travel Channel, and the dozens of Food magazine journalist, and foodie bloggers to come to Michigan. That reason can be to say meet me and the 100-1000’s of other cottage home foodies to taste our cookies, jams, jellies, spice rubs, candies, regional wine, cheeses, etc…which can/will transform Michigan to an international foodie destination. After all, we already have some of the best scenery in the world.
OK. The hype portion of this post is over, but on a personal level, I would love to offer some baked goods this summer for sale along with my microgreens. These new amendments could help to make this possible.
Please contact Rep. Pam Brynes to give your support.