Major Vent And It's Long

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by pinemead, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. pinemead

    pinemead Well-Known Member

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    I have a booth at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday. In the spring I sell herb plants in nursery pots and in decorative pots. Our market runs from the first Saturday in May to the Saturday before Christmas. People don’t buy plants in the fall, so I supplement with other things. The Market Master told us that anyone selling baked goods, etc. had to get a certificate from the Health Department. I just got off the phone with the local health department, which single handedly wiped out my whole business. I do the following each fall:

    Herb vinegars (not allowed)
    Herb oils - kept in a cooler (not allowed)
    Herb butters – frozen and kept in a cooler (not allowed)
    Pesto – kept in a cooler (not allowed)
    Fruit pies (most are not allowed, a couple of kinds are)
    Prepared Horseradish (not allowed)
    Dry mixes like soups, cakes, dips, drinks, in jars (not allowed)
    Dry tea blends (not allowed)
    Pickled veggies (not allowed)

    It appears that if I take a cup of uncooked pasta, chicken bouillon, and some dried herbs and put them in a sterilized jar, it’s illegal. To do this I need a processor’s license from the State. They will come and inspect my farm, house, kitchen, test my water and septic system, require any changes to be done (perhaps a new well?) and charge me $150 a year. I can’t even sell little bags of dried herbs.

    I was depending on the income since I am now unemployed from my full time job. I am POed to say the least, and down right devastated. I am allowed to sell sweet breads, cookies, apple butter, and a few jams and jellies. There are already several selling these items. My soup/crock pot mixes are a big seller in the fall. There's already several vendors selling soaps, jewlery, painted wood, lots of breads, jams/jellies, cakes, cookies, knitted items, and other crafts. I need fall products and now that they have my information, I can't do them anyway - I'll get fined. So now what do I do? Any ideas?
     
  2. Valduare

    Valduare Well-Known Member

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    become one of the people that just turned you down :) so you cant get turned down next year.
     

  3. CG

    CG Member

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    What a load of rubbish! Unfortunately, I don't have any good advice for you :shrug: . I am curious to find out what state you're in, though, if you don't mind sharing.
     
  4. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    find a local church that has an licensed catering kitchen (you can even ask the health inspector guy for names). Tell the pastor your situation and ask him if you can use it on weekdays to prepare your stuff to sell. Maybe offer him some of the goods in trade?
     
  5. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    our farmers markets here in ont. are under attack as well as church community suppers. even eggs are not allowed! you need to get in to your markets board ,there may be other vendors/former vendors that are being affected as well. if one person has a licensed kitchen you could possibly share duties and costs with that person or perhaps create a licensed kitchen your self for hire ,catering,pickling,school functions etc, may even have state funding available . what was the beef with the banned products? could some be sold frozen or with mechanical refrigeration? diferent pakaging ie. tamper proof or hermaticly sealed? may have to farm gate this years produce
     
  6. Kathy in MD

    Kathy in MD Well-Known Member Supporter

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    CG wrote..... I am curious to find out what state you're in,
    Unfortunately most state are like that

    Pinemead, You probably need a commercial kitchen, stainless steel, etc.
    Ask the Health Dept. what would be the regulations you would need to meet their standards, then ask around volunteer fire stations, church kitchens, I doubt it but maybe banquet halls or home based caterers to rent out their kitchen for a day........
     
  7. Snowdancer

    Snowdancer Well-Known Member

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    Sorry this is affecting you too! :(

    Another thing to check is even if you find a licensed kitchen; don't forget the label laws. I know when I tried you had to list a weight done on an inspected scale. :bash: Certain items must contain the ingredient list(in correct order by % ;) ) as well as information if the item was processed in facilities that also processed nuts or other 'on the list' items.

    The fines are incredible too! I don't know how anyone makes a go of it if you figure in the costs of the special 'legal' equiptment, etc. What would you need to charge to recoup your investment over a 10yr period if you aren't selling 500 pies and 100 soup mixes a week?
    I guess that's why so many markets are no longer places where farmers/homesteaders can actually sell their items. :(
     
  8. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    Can you package them separately in little cellophane packages, put them in a small fabric gift bag along with a recipe card? That way you aren't mixing anything but you accomplish the same thing.
     
  9. starjj

    starjj Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes I use to sell at a farmer's market that had the same rules so some of the vendors weren't allowed to sell there anymore. It is a real shame and I don't know what to tell you. One of the vendors use to sell apple cider but he said it wasn't worth the hassle he had to go through to get the liscense and the inspection so he quit. I am sorry this has happened to you it is to put the people who use unsanitary conditions out of business.
     
  10. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    That is how it is here, too.

    One enterprising lady had cards printed to pass out at the farmers market, and during the week she sold her pies out of her own house. That way she could sell pumpkin pies, and other hazardous foods. It is legal if you sell it out of your house, or it is here, anyways.

    I remember well being told that if I tear up or chop the veggies that I would need a commercial kitchen. So much for the salad mix! :stars:
     
  11. pinemead

    pinemead Well-Known Member

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    Good ideas. Thanks. I'm in Maryland, but each county has their own rules. This county is one of the more relaxed. The State is the one which issues processor's licenses. They are really tough. I have no stainless steel anything, no hand sink, no separate area to prepare stuff away from my home food, no separate refrigerator, stove, etc.

    coalroadcabin, no. It's still "processing". Just drying the herbs in a dehydrator and bagging them is not allowed.

    I now have no products to take to market this Saturday except a few potted plants. I've had many customers ask for the soup mixes already. Please keep the ideas coming!
     
  12. cider

    cider Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We used to sell apple cider until they started to make you pasturize it. Now there is no good cider around, not the delicious, tart, uncooked, natural kind. All you can find is stuff that tastes like apple juice. NO ONE likes it! But everyone puts up with it.
    Sorry these regs are messing with your business, they killed ours!
    Cider
     
  13. Snowdancer

    Snowdancer Well-Known Member

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    Terri, I don't know about other states & counties but where I lived in WI & KY, selling food items out of the home was illegal at that time.
    I would have had to re-do my garage into a separate licensed facility with a 4 part SS sink not to mention they had some rule that it had to have a separate entrance.

    Now I'm a cake decorator who was making maybe 5-8 cakes a month-birthday, baby shower types at $15-$20/each and maybe 2-3 wedding cakes a year at $175-$250/each.. Can you imagine how long it would have taken to see a profit after that kind of expense? :bash:
     
  14. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    when they started selling pasturized cider here, we got us a press, and make outr own . and we don't sell it, but we do freeze it and drink it all summer long.
     
  15. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    Put a sign up saying these items available by special order. Have them picked up or deliever them after the FM closes.
     
  16. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Devil's advocate --

    It's unfortunate that you have run into this.

    HOWEVER, every product you have described can be a source of serious (life threatening) food poisoning and contagion. You may be producing your food in a safe manner, however, the inspector doesn't know that. They have to assume the worst. I took some courses on food safety a few years back & wrote a college paper on it as well, and what I learned was pretty ... frightening. Those food safety laws are there for a REASON.

    For example, dried herbs from your own garden are not necessarily safe. Did you use manure to fertilize the herbs? Did a bird fly over? Did you simply get dirt on the leaves at any point? If you did, likely they're contaminated with salmonella, e coli, etc. and then Joe Blow Consumer, say for an example, makes a loaf of herb bread and lets the dough (sugar, starch, perfect environment for bacteria to proliferate) rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, suddenly he's got a festering mess of e-coli. Cooking kills the bacteria but not the toxins. Commercially prepared herbs are either irradiated or otherwise sanitized to prevent poisoning.

    If these are store bought herbs you're using, have they been stored in a safe fashion? What's the source? If they determine there's a problem with the herbs later, can they track you down to pull YOUR products off the market too? (Recalls happen all the time. www.fda.gov for a list of recalled food products ...)

    Herb oils, prepared commercially, have preservatives introduced. They can be a source of botulism otherwise, even if kept at cool temperatures. Are you treating your oils with preservatives? Even if YOU kept it cool, Joe Blow Consumer takes the oil home, leaves it on his counter, and gets sick two weeks later.

    The food inspector doesn't know that the butter you made your herb butter from came from an approved source if he's not keeping tabs on you. It could have come from Daisy in your back yard, and be full of bacteria. Or you could have left it out on the counter for three or four days. Also, see above about herbs containing bacteria. (If you don't believe me on this, drop a handful of home grown dried herbs in a glass of water, leave it in the sun in a warm place, and see how fast it starts bubbling and sliming.) Commercial kitchens are inspected randomly and must keep records of purchases. There's a reason for those laws. People get nailed for not following good safe food practices all the time in commercial operations.

    *shrug* It sucks, but it's reality. Those laws and guidelines are there for a reason. You might consider seeing if you can resell already prepared food, or find something else to sell or resell, like handcrafts.

    Leva
     
  17. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Give stuff away to members for a donation. Membership is whatever the total cost is.

    mikell
     
  18. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

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    What about things that aren't eaten? I imagine some of these are already there at the market, but at least you have something there at the market. And see what the laws are, if you can do the special orders or anything like that.
    Demand (nicely!) answers in writing so if there is any hassle you can pull out the documentation to prove you're not breaking any rules.
    IF you sell anything like your soup mixes special order and you aren't sure if it's 100% legal, only sell the special orders discreetly to trusted longtime customers so you know that you aren't being set up.
    Chances are inspectors don't want to bother checking you out on a weekend, but it can happen.

    Maybe sachets, little herbal pillows, buckwheat/rice pillows to heat,
    swags, cards with pressed flowers, etc.

    I remember I was asked if I would be willing to start butchering rabbits a few years back. The people who cut and wrapped our beef were too busy for the rabbits and had a ready client list if I was interested. But I would've had to convert my garage into a sterile processing plant for a whole lot of money, a whole lot of work and it would've taken years to see a profit, not to mention the red tape and hassles.

    Some friends of ours stopped making their delicious cider due to the regulations imposed on them too.
     
  19. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    We're in Frederick Co., Md. Didn't Ehrlich just push through a bill that makes it easier for on-farm processing.

    **** In an effort to provide Maryland farmers with more economic opportunities, Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., has announced that people whose primary income is from farming can be licensed to process certain foods on their farm. Working in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, the University of Maryland and local agricultural organizations, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has revised its regulations that govern food processing, effective in mid-February. If a license is approved, the farmer is allowed to process in a domestic kitchen located on the individual's farm a limited selection of non-potentially hazardous foods for commercial sale and distribution. Typical examples of foods include baked cakes, muffins and cookies; fruit pies; canned acid foods; herbs in vinegar; honey and herb mixtures; and dried fruit and vegetables. (A complete list of allowable products is available at www.cha.state.md.us/ofpchs/html/new.html. Farmers who sell only at farmers markets may continue to operate under the old regulations.)

    The farming community really benefits from this," said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley. "Farmers now have more options of what they can sell and where they can sell it."

    Or are they just blowing smoke up our ***?

    I'm going to be looking into it more myself for next year.


     
  20. mama2littleman

    mama2littleman El Paso

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    I agree with this idea. You may also mention that due to county/state regulations you are no longer able to offer these items at the market. However, these items are still available via special order.

    Nikki