State Rep Eddie Rodriguez (D – Austin) held a Town Hall Meeting on Monday to discuss how the Texas legislature can help support the Texas food economy in the upcoming 2011 session. Gathering around plates of locally produced cheeses, olives, duck confit and rabbit-venison pâté at the East Side Show Room, Austin food distributors, urban farmers and sustainable food advocates argued their cases for change. The lack of support for small organic farms at the state level was bemoaned at length
One measure that everyone in the room got behind was The Texas Cottage Food Law, aka the “Bake Sale Bill.” We discussed this issue with Ag Commish Todd Staples and Senator Whitmire last week.
Such a law would allow home cooks to sell cakes, cookies, preserves and a few other select items at bake sales, farmer’s markets and roadside stands by exempting certain items from Health Department regulations. Aside from serving as an incubator for, say, jam-makers to pump out a few jars before pursuing a full-fledged commercial business, Paige Hill of Urban Patchwork pointed out that it would also allow farmers to utilize fruits and vegetables that are currently going to waste.
Even if Rodriguez doesn’t file the Texas Cottage Food Law bill himself, he noted that three or four other members are also on board to help small-scale food producers work out of their home kitchens. With enough food community support, we might just see little ‘ol ladies slanging their pies by the side of the road once again.
Contact your state rep and tell them what you think of regulations that outlaw homemade cookies. When this bill comes to a vote in the next session, we’ll see who is really in favor of getting the government off our backs. Visit Texas Cottage Food Law onlineheadquarters and see what else you can do to help.