The rising demand for locally produced food in the United States has fueled a dramatic increase in small-scale food production in recent years. Offering the opportunity for the sale of home-produced foods also supports economic development and food justice, as it reduces barriers to entry and the majority of home cooks are women, immigrants, and other historically marginalized individuals. All fifty states now allow at least some cottage food sales, which generally include low-risk value-added products such as baked goods, jams, granola, popcorn, candy, coffee, and tea. Many states are now allowing a broader range of foods through “food freedom” laws and laws that allow home kitchens to sell prepared meals with few restrictions. Cottage food operations, home kitchens, and food freedom laws support culturally distinct foods and create economic opportunities for residents. However, the laws regulating these operations vary widely from state to state and have been in flux with many states updating their laws in recent years.
The Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) provides direct support to advocates and policymakers in states working to advance state policies that better support cottage foods and home kitchen operations. We are tracking legislative trends related to cottage food operations to build on our past analyses.
In August 2013, FLPC published a seminal report tracking trends in state laws across the country that allow for the sale of low-risk food items produced in home kitchens. The report has been widely used by advocates, entrepreneurs, and policymakers around the country.
In August 2018, FLPC published an updated Cottage Food Laws in the United States report, which includes updated research, analysis on new trends in state cottage food laws, and a new detailed 50-state appendix with information about each state’s current laws. In 2022, an updated 50-state chart of current laws, as well as an issue brief about current trends, was released.