Woman's Homemade Sauerkraut Highlights Cottage Food Fight in Arizona

| 8/8/2012 3:27:33 PM

Tags: sauerkraut, local food, CSA, community supported agriculture, sustainable agriculture, Food Safety News,

SauerkrautSandy Boyce and her husband have been making homemade sauerkraut for years by fermenting cabbage purchased from local farmers near their home in Sedona, Arizona. Having long received praise from family and friends for her recipe, Boyce, the director of the nonprofit Verde Valley Community Supported Agriculture, finally decided in 2009 to start selling her specialty at farmers' markets in the area.

Boyce's 'kraut was a hit, sellin out each week — until her county health department promptly asked her to stop. Without testing her product, obtaining a food processing license, and making it all within a certified commercial kitchen, Boyce couldn't distribute her sauerkraut to the public according to state regulations.

Small-time home producers like Boyce have faced similar hurdles across the nation in recent years over restrictions placed on so-called 'cottage foods' — foods made at home and sold to the public. It's a disagreement that pits state and local governments intending to protect public health against those who say it's not the government's job to dictate what they eat.
Back in 2009, when Boyce looked into how much it would cost to produce a season's batch according to all the rules, she came up with an estimate of more than $700 in additional costs.

"When you sell it for $6 a pint, that's a lot of sauerkraut," she recently told Food Safety News. Selling 800 pints that season, she had made roughly $3,400 in profit after production costs.

Instead of throwing in the towel or forking over the dough in fees, Boyce decided to try something else. The following week, she began selling all of her sauerkraut as "for pet consumption," to skirt the health department regulation.

"Even with the pet food label, I sold out every week," Boyce said.

Deb LaCombe Fitzgerald
9/13/2012 9:52:47 AM

How do we change the laws??? This is government going to the extreme, I know to protect people but there should be a way to protect those who make money to supplement their incomes!

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