August 8, 2018
With House Bill 263 now in effect, home bakers across Kentucky are firing up their ovens and whipping out their mixing bowls
The bill went into effect July 14, updating Kentucky’s outdated cottage food laws and allowing people to sell goods they baked from home without needing a license, health department inspections or a commercial kitchen.
Local artist and home-baker Jennifer Lea Bowman said she restarted her gluten-, soy- and dairy-free cookie business, the Urban Biscuit, once she found out she can legally sell her home-baked goods.
She posted pictures of her cookies and packaging on Facebook Aug. 2, proudly noting “this product is home-produced and processed.”
“Now, I don’t feel like I’m going to go to bakers’ jail,” Bowman joked.
Although she was never reported to the health department for selling baked goods without a license or commercial kitchen, Bowman has a friend who was.
“I couldn’t believe someone would report a sweet woman making cupcakes from home,” she said.
According to Rep. Walker Thomas, one of the bill’s 14 co-sponsors, the new law takes out all of the red tape. Previously, home-based processors had to either be farmers or grow the main ingredient in the finished product. They also had to get their kitchen inspected by the health department and often times spend thousands to convert it into a commercial kitchen or invest in a brick-and-mortar bakery.
Now, anyone can be a home-based processor by acknowledging the product is made at home and as long as food they make is listed in the Kentucky cottage food law, which includes whole fruits and vegetables, mixed greens, jams, jellies, sweet sorghum syrup, preserves, fruit butter, bread, fruit pies, cakes and cookies.
Thomas said the new law might retain bakers who were planning to move in order to sell their baked goods — bakers like Yolonda Lynch from Cadiz.
Thomas appeared at the Cadiz-Trigg County Farmers’ Market July 18 to commemorate the legislation’s passage with Lynch, owner of Cravings by Yo’.
“This law is a game-changer for home bakers like myself,” Lynch said in a news release. “While I was going to move to Tennessee in order to expand my operations and make some extra income, I will now be able to stay in Kentucky and grow my business.”
Thomas said 47 other states had implemented a modern cottage food bill — Kentucky now makes 48.
“We felt we needed to get in there and actually help home bakers,” Thomas said. “They can now produce the product in their own kitchen and be able to sell at flea markets, farmers markets or online.”
Thomas noted that home bakers can profit up to $35,000 a year before they will need a commercial license.
For now, Bowman’s cookie business is a side hustle, but knowing there’s nothing stopping her from expanding it, feels good to the single mother and full-time artist.
“Commercial kitchens can cost a lot, and even to rent one would dip into an already low profit margin,” she said. “Everybody was excited that it had officially passed. We can now bake in our kitchen as long as we label it properly.”
The cottage food law still requires home-bakers to label the ingredients in their goods by weight, with the most-prominent ingredient at the top. Bowman found a website online that will generate the label for her from the recipe. She not only includes the ingredients but also the nutritional facts for her cookies.
“They are a baked good, so, of course, there’s sugar, but they are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free so people with those sensitivities can have a sweet treat,” Bowman said. “Even people who don’t (have gluten or soy sensitivities) have tried them and liked them.”
Her cookies are sold in twos, a half-dozen or a dozen, and flavors include chocolate chip, oatmeal almond cranberry, peanut butter and classic sugar.
Orders can be placed through the “Urban Biscuit” Facebook page, and are available for delivery or pickup.
“I’m also willing to ship if the customer pays for shipping,” she said.
Thinking about the possibilities, Bowman said she’d like to get into the baking business slowly, but if there is a demand she will expand.
“I love to bake,” she said, “and I love to experiment, so if someone did come to me and ask for something specific, I would welcome the challenge.
“More importantly, not just for me, I think (this new law) could help out people in my situation,” Bowman continued. “I’m a single mom and an artist full time so it helps me incorporate extra income into my lifestyle … I think there are going to be a lot of really talented home bakers who are now not going to have to put in the overhead of renting a facility.”
By Zirconia Alleyne
Kentucky New Era