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If You Don’t Like The Law, Change It with Shelley Erickson

It all started with a dream of opening a brick-and-mortar bakery… someday. But that dream turned into something much bigger than a single bakery!

Shelley Erickson lives in Big Lake, MN, and although she does have a small cottage food business of her own, most of her time is spent supporting the cottage food movement in her state.

Shelley spent 5 long years campaigning to get Minnesota’s first cottage food law passed back in 2015, and then she started an association for cottage food producers in her state, which for many years was the only cottage food association in the country.

Most recently, she helped start and pass an amendment to improve Minnesota’s cottage food law, which was no easy task. Of all the states, Minnesota has some of the greatest opposition to cottage food laws, but fortunately they have people like Shelley to help counterbalance it.

In this episode, you will learn what it takes to change the cottage food law in your state, and you will be amazed at all that Shelley has had to go through to help Minnesota create a thriving cottage food community!

2021 Cottage Food Bills

2021 is a fresh start in so many ways, but as always, a new year means a new round of cottage food bills!

And what a big round it is! At least one-third of states are actively working on improving their cottage food law this year.

I actually can’t remember a year when there were this many cottage food amendments on the table. It reminds me of nearly a decade ago, when states were busy creating their initial cottage food laws.

In all likelihood, the pandemic, and the resulting surge of interest in cottage foods, is part of the push to improve the laws in many states.

The Resilient Baker with Justina Rucinski

In 2019, Justina Rucinski was sexually assaulted in her home in Burlington, IA when a supposed client came to pay for a cookie order. That traumatic event not only forever changed her life, but has also changed cottage food laws around the country.

Justina now lives in San Antonio, TX and continues to sell custom decorated cookies and cakes with her cottage food business, SweetEms.

After her horrific experience, she came very close to shutting down her business. But with massive support from bakers around the world, she has both resurrected it and become one of the most popular cottage food bakers in the United States!

In addition to her business success, Justina has become an advocate for the safety of all home bakers. Because of her story, many states no longer require cottage food producers to put their home address on their product labels.

In this emotional episode, Justina shares how the cottage food community helped lift her out of utter darkness, so that she could once again continue running the business that she loves so much!

New Jersey Finally Passes A Cottage Food Law!

After a 12 year battle, New Jersey finally has a cottage food law! They are the last state to create one, and they will be the last state to get the “pending” status on Forrager’s map.

Although the new cottage food rules passed on July 12th, they will not take effect until the rules get published by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

In other words, this law isn’t usable just yet. And once the law gets published (likely by mid-September), it’s not entirely clear how long it will take for the health department to start approving permits.

With over half of the states working on improving their cottage food law, 2021 already has been the biggest year ever for cottage food developments. New Jersey’s law is a big fat cherry on top of all of that!

2020 Cottage Food Industry Recap

2020 was not just a year full of changes for the nation and world.

It was also a year which changed the cottage food industry… sometimes for the worse, but mostly for the better.

There were a number of important storylines this year, and surprisingly, many of them were not pandemic-related.

In this year-end recap, I’ll give my take on the major events of 2020 that related to the cottage food industry.

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Impacted The Cottage Food Industry in 2020

Recently I was asked to briefly describe how COVID-19 has impacted the cottage food industry this year. Here’s what I wrote:

“The pandemic has impacted everyone differently, but it has impacted everyone. Some cottage food businesses have shut down temporarily or permanently, while just as many others have seen their sales skyrocket. More cottage food businesses started this year than any other by far, and overall, the pandemic has caused a huge surge of interest in this industry.”

That’s a very simplified view of what has been a crazy and complex year.

In this post, I’ll dig into some of the major trends and story lines that impacted the cottage food industry in 2020.

How To Start A Cottage Food Business From Your Home Kitchen

If you are thinking of selling your homemade food, then this episode is for you!

For this inaugural episode of The Forrager Podcast, I decided to give you a crash course on the first things you need to know to start a cottage food business.

You’ll learn about the cottage food industry and better understand how you can legally start a food business from your home kitchen.

You will also hear about my own journey in starting a cottage food business, what I learned along the way, and why I started this podcast.

Researching Your State’s Cottage Food Law

If you want to learn more about your state’s cottage food law, or better understand how this site was made, this post will give you ideas for how to research and update a law on Forrager.

Status of the Cottage Food Industry

I recently received a few questions from Sid, a student at the University of Tampa who’s doing some research on the cottage food industry. The questions are high-level enough that I realized they’d make a good blog post, so I’m sharing my answers here.