Not only will we have produce this summer from local farms, more local producers will be selling baked goods, jams, jellies, tea mixes, spice rubs and flavored honeys.
I am referring to Colorado’s cottage food producers. Anyone can bake, dry and can food in their home kitchen and directly sell it to any interested consumer. This is a great cash business opportunity.
The are restrictions, including foods that require refrigeration, and products must be labeled with specific information, including that they were produced in a home kitchen. Also, the producer is required to have completed a four-hour food-safety class. For more about the Colorado Cottage Food Act, visit http://1.usa.gov/1zL6Ooe.
I look at this as a two-door consumer awareness issue.
First, as a potential consumer of these foods, you must be aware of what you are eating. I love the opportunity to try unusual jams on homemade bread as much as anyone, and I love flavored nuts.
A couple of months ago, I was strolling through our local craft fairs. There were so many opportunities to purchase baked goods, jams, tea mixes and nut mixes. My enthusiasm dwindled every so often, however, when I realized some of these vendors knew nothing about cottage food safety or the labeling requirements.
At one of the craft fairs, I was traumatized by vibrant green salsa (How could it be so green if it was safely canned?), the decorative bottles of oil flavored with fresh garlic (extreme botulism risk) and homemade pumpkin pies sitting on a table. The food-safety alarms started clanging inside my head.
The next Monday, I overheard a fellow talking about how his spouse and friend came down with food poisoning after visiting a craft fair (the one with the high risk foods).
We all know that no one wants to make people sick, but lack of knowledge can be harmful. More than half of our food and beverage intake now occurs away from home, and we trust someone else to safely produce and prepare our food. Unfortunately, one of every six people will experience food poisoning this year.
The second aspect of consumer awareness focuses on people interested in producing items in their home kitchens.
This is a great opportunity for additional revenue sources. Anyone need a taster for your breads or cookie trials? I could probably be persuaded!
The variety of goods is extraordinary: Meat rubs, teas, nut mixes, baked goods, jams and flavored honeys all are part of the cottage food producer repertoire. However, knowledge of proper food-safety requirements is a must.
To this purpose, a four-hour food-safety training class with a focus on the home producer will be available this month. In this case, that little piece of paper (your certificate of completion) does make a difference.
email@example.com or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.