West Virginia Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

West Virginia is really cooking now

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By The West Virginia Record | Apr 9, 2019


Have you ever won “first place” for your pecan pie at a county fair? Have your chocolate chip cookies made your home the after-school go-to place for your children’s classmates? Is your grandma’s-secret-recipe cornbread the one thing nobody can get enough of at big family get-togethers?

If so, you might be onto something. You could be sitting on a gold mine, figuratively speaking. That is, if you have any interest in taking commercial advantage of your talent for creating delectable treats and merchandising them for profit.

Until recently, you couldn’t do that in West Virginia. Why, we don’t know, but West Virginia was one of just two states nationwide that proscribed the sale of homemade goods. That has all changed now, however.


“Under a new law signed ... by Gov. Jim Justice, West Virginia will significantly ease restrictions on ‘cottage food’ producers, who can sell cookies, jams and other shelf-stable, homemade food, without a permit or the need to rent commercial kitchen space," Forbes.com reports. "Currently on the books in 49 states (with New Jersey the lone holdout), cottage food laws are designed to promote entrepreneurship and transform home kitchens into low-cost business incubators."

Prior to the new law passage, the article notes, “cottage food businesses could only sell at seasonal farmers’ markets and sporadic community events.”

It seems like such a sensible idea that you have to wonder who would oppose it. Hardly anyone, as it turns out. The bill passed unanimously in the state senate and drew only five negative votes in the house.

As Forbes points out, beginning in June, “home bakers can sell directly from their homes, take online orders, and even sell through retail outlets like grocery stores. The law will also preempt any local bans and regulations that would otherwise sour plans for homemade food businesses. Cottage food will finally become a year-round endeavor in West Virginia.”

People used to work in their homes. The frontier family and the mom-and-pop shop were the norm once. Maybe they will be again.

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West Virginia Department of Agriculture

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