The scent of lavender and sun-kissed strawberries wafts upon the breeze; farm fresh eggs tempt the palate; an array of colors and textures delight the senses. Welcome to your local Farmers Market! Tickle your taste buds with samples of honey, fresh fruit and—wait—is that fresh bread I smell?
If you’ve come to Market lately, you may have noticed a trend—small start-up businesses offering a variety of breads, flavored oils, baked goods, jams and jellies and other delicacies. Prior to 2010, these goods were rarely seen at Markets. Start-up costs were counter-productive. State regulation required licenses, licensed industrial kitchens and inspections, drastically cutting into the bottom line of most hopefuls. A business began in the red—many stayed there until quietly packing up shop and eating the costs—until 2010. That’s when Michigan adopted the Cottage Food Laws. The relaxed regulations make it possible for farmers to expand their line of products and for others to test the waters without getting in over their heads. With a small grocery list of staples, a person can begin operations.
However, rules do apply. Sales must be documented. Individuals cannot earn more than $20,000 a year. This changes on December 31, 2017 to $25,000 per year. You need to maintain sales records and provide them to a Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) food inspector, upon request. MDARD has regulatory responsibility for the Cottage Food Law.
Products must be labeled with your name and physical address as well as an ingredient list with a note of possible allergens and the following statement, “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development”—this last in 11 point font or larger (about 1/8” tall). Products must be produced in your own kitchen with no animals or pets in the room. You cannot cook for yourself and for sale product at the same time. Hand-printed labels are acceptable if they are printed legibly in durable, permanent ink and equal or greater to the 11-point font size.
Foods that are allowed under the Cottage Food Laws include:
• Breads and similar baked goods
• Vinegars and flavored vinegars
• Sweet breads and muffins that contain fruits or vegetables
• Fruit pies (cooked)
• Jams and Jellies that have been processed to be stored at room temperature
• Dried herbs and herb mixes
• Dry baking mixes, dip mixes and soup mixes
• Dehydrated vegetables or fruits
• Popcorn and Cotton Candy
• Nuts (coated or uncoated)
• Dried egg noodles
• Roasted coffee beans or ground roast
• Vanilla extract or baked goods or that contain alcohol (be aware that these products require licensing by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.)
Foods that are not allowed include:
• Meat and meat products
• Fish and fish products
• Raw seed sprouts
• Canned fruits or vegetables like salsa or canned peaches
• Vegetable or Fruit butters
• Canned pickled products
• Pies or cakes that require refrigeration
• Milk and Dairy products
• Cut tomatoes or chopped/shredded leafy greens
• Foccaccia style breads
• Sauces and condiments, including barbeque sauce, hot sauce, ketchup or mustard
• Salad dressings
• Pet foods or treats
All products must be wrapped or otherwise sealed. For example, you cannot sell slices of pie unless they have been individually wrapped for sale. Cottage Foods must be sold by the person producing it to the person consuming it face to face. You can advertise over the internet but you must do the actual transfer of product in person either at a Farmers Market or something similar or from your home.
For a more complete list of allowed or disallowed products or additional information on the Cottage Food Laws please Google™ Michigan Cottage Food Laws or check out the web page at http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-50772_45851-240577–,00.html
Here is a sample label for home product: note that sub ingredients are required and any nuts must be identified such as, walnuts, almonds, etc. not simply nuts.
Ready to give it a try? Try out our recipe below for a starter. See you at Market!
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsps. Vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsps . baking soda
1tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and zucchini in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add zucchini mixture to dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour into 2 greased 5 x 9-inch loaf pans.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and remove from pans.
Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like us on facebook for updates.