Wyoming Food Freedom Act

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Remember the Pennsylvania “Pie Gate”? Little old ladies forbidden to serve homemade pies at a Church Fish Fry?

Well, that sort of thing won’t happen in Wyoming. Last week the state’s House of Representatives passed the Food Freedom Act out of committee in support of cottage industry foods. A similar bill became the law of the land last year, but excluded potentially hazardous foods such as dairy products, canned foods, and sauces from protection as “cottage foods.” This bill would widen the scope what’s considered an exempt “cottage food,” and food-safety advocates are hotly criticizing the expanded definition.

Bill Marler, the lawyer who’s made his livelihood out of representing the victims of food poisoning, calls the legislation “The Bill Marler Full Employment Act.” On his blog, he thanked the bill’s author, Sue Wallis:

Sue, this Bill will be a big help for my struggling business and certainly allow me to spend more time in Wyoming suing those exempt producers, who, unlicensed, uninspected and uncertified are bound to poison their customers. I can also imagine that most of those producers are farmers and ranchers with little or no insurance to cover what can be millions in medical bills for poisoned children – I have always wanted a ranch in Wyoming – perhaps near a ski resort and trout stream? Sue, you are the best.

I, at least, am all for the new legislation. It seems to me like when you buy food directly from the producer (and that producer is a real, live person), you agree to an unspoken contract. If their food harms you, they’ll be responsible for it. If they won’t, then you have the right to sue them in the civil courts for damages. I like this arrangement as it allows for the most liberty to the most people without stifling or costly licensing programs.

According to the Food Freedom Act, its purpose is to:

allow for traditional community social events involving the sale and consumption of home made foods and to encourage the expansion and accessibility of farmers’ markets, roadside stands, ranch, farm and home based sales and producer to end consumer agricultural sales by:

  • Promoting the purchase and consumption of fresh and local agricultural products
  • Enhancing the agricultural economy
  • Encouraging agri-tourism opportunities in Wyoming
  • Providing Wyoming citizens with unimpeded access to healthy food from known sources
  • Encouraging the expansion and accessibility of farmers’ markets, roadside stands, ranch and farm based sales and direct producer to end consumer agricultural sales.

Sounds like noble goals to me. If only more states would follow suit, then we would actually have a society that would no longer view cooking as a “dangerous” act, that would re-connect people with their food, that would preserve food traditions, and that would promote small farming and cottage industry.

One Year Ago This Week:

(photo by cafemama)

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While I adore hats & happy skirts, nothing inspires me quite like geeking out over nutrition & sustainable agriculture.
My name is Kristen Michaelis, author extraordinaire and rebel with a cause.

Comments

  1. says

    “…we would actually have a society that would no longer view cooking as a “dangerous” act…”

    amen, i whole heartedly agree. it’s sad that my kids are encouraged to eat a federly funded free breakfast at thier public school that includes strawberry sugared lowfat milk and “danish” pastry, but we parents are not generally allowed to bring in homemade snacks.
    .-= emily´s last blog post …and the winners are… =-.

  2. says

    It infuriates me that my kids’ schools won’t allow home baked goods. So this year at the cake walk it was a bunch of store bought chemically engineer food the kids could win. What happened to lopsided cupcakes? Brownies in saran wrap? ugh.

    this week I’m sharing a response to some comments i got a few weeks ago when I encouraged parents to remove the “opting out” of dinner choice. i think when you spend oodles on real food that will nourish your family, and spend time preparing tasty and wholesome food, it’s ok to expect kids to try it. you can teach this skill in a loving way so kids don’t end up feeling oppressed at the table. i’m curious to know what you guys think! thanks again for hosting!
    .-= jenna Food WIth Kid Appeal´s last blog post …Is Letting Kids Decide What to Eat the Right Thing? =-.

  3. Alex says

    I am extremely saddened by the fact that new york has also instituted industrial foods only in our schools–not only that now i cant even have my girl scouts make foods for their events…

    a few years back they did an international night and found women from mexico, england, india and switzerland to teach them how to cook basic ethnic foods–they had a BLAST learning about the different cooking methods and the foods were delicious–the girls who came to their event literally ate it all up…no one got sick..the kids also had cultural day at school where families bought in favorite family foods….those things are a thing of the past…

    I cant even get over how sad that is!!!!

    • says

      Oh bummer. The good news is that many cottage foods already ARE protected/exempted from licensing, and the bill can be re-introduced next year. Wyoming has always struck me as a freedom-loving state.

  4. says

    Florida is in the process of passing something similar. I hope it makes it through! I recently read Joel Salatin’s book “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal” that talks about little grannies baking pound cakes to sell at the local market getting arrested for illegal food trafficking. He also talks about how you can’t legislate integrity. His point being that if you buy food from an FDA or USDA approved facility they will have jumped through the bureaucratic hoops to sell it to you but you have no guarantee it is actually good, but if you buy from a local farm friend you have a relationship to go along with your purchase and his livelihood depends to an extent on your satisfaction with your purchase.

  5. Kevin Krouch says

    This bill, unfortunately is about much more than letting grandma sell her cookies at a bake sale or farmers market. If this were only about just baked goods, jams and jellies would be one thing, but it is not. You all need to read the whole thing before you jump on the “band-wagon”. I agree with alot of what you all are saying, but would you be so supportive if your child died or had to recieve dialysis the rest of their lives because you bought and consumed a burrito that was unknowingly tainted with e-coli? The real facts are people become sick and have even died from eating foods that weren’t handled properly. This bill also places unfair economic pressure on local business owners who are taking the proper measures and follow the rules.

  6. Annie says

    It is possible that none of you are aware that Rep. Sue Wallis wants to open a facility in Wyoming to slaughter horses for human consumption and is looking for a way to get around the unavailability of funding for U.S.D.A. inspections of the meat and the facility. This would be her own business. If any of you are Wyoming residents or particularly if you would live in that community where the horse slaughter facility would be located…you really do need to read the following letter from Paula Bacon, who was the mayor of Kaufman, TX for several years. Kaufman, TX was the home of one of the last US horse slaughterhouses. Mayor Bacon continues to speak out publicly about the perils of the horse slaughter industry. http://www.animallawcoalition.com/horse-slaughter/article/686

  7. lenora yenny says

    I make my own vanilla flavoring and a few other flavorings as well. Is is permissible to sell them at bazaars, farmers Markets etc?

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