A prominent civil rights organization is boasting of striking down restrictions on the sales of food baked in homes.
But it laments the fact that Thanksgiving pumpkin pies still are not included in newly established rights.
The Institute for Justice issued a new report called “Ready to Roll: Nine Lessons from Ending Wisconsin’s Home-Baking Ban.”
Because of the organization’s case against the state, home bakers in Wisconsin now can legally sell “homemade apple pies, sugar cookies and other delicious treats.”
“They have not had this opportunity for long: In October 2017, following a lawsuit by the Institute for Justice, a Wisconsin court ruled a law prohibiting entrepreneurs from selling home-baked goods – even a single cookie – was unconstitutional,” the report explains.
“That change opened up opportunities for budding entrepreneurs almost immediately.”
Vicki Gentz sold her first batch of homemade cookies around Halloween last year, the report noted.
Now, business is booming and Gentz has been nominated in Madison Magazine’s best artisan food product category.
“Decorating sugar cookies takes so long that prior to being able to work at home, I’d have to rent a commercial kitchen for eight hours at a time and there would be no way to turn a profit,” she said in the report.
“This new industry has given me the opportunity to test the market and see if there’s a demand for my product. I’d love to do this full time as a career,” said Gentz.
Wisconsin is not the only state where the issue has come up. In 2013, IJ launched its National Food Freedom Initiative and now is suing New Jersey for banning the sale of home-baked goods.
IJ also sued Minnesota, prompting the state to change its laws. In 2017, the organization successfully brought its arguments to lawmakers in Maryland and Kentucky to expand their cottage food industry laws.
According to IJ, only 10 percent of the Wisconsin home bakers surveyed said their home-baking business is their full-time job and 62 percent said they put their earnings back into the business, with many wanting it to become a full-time career.
Changes still are needed in Wisconsin.
“It remains illegal for Wisconsin homemade food producers to sell foods requiring refrigeration. That leaves classic Thanksgiving desserts like pumpkin pie off the menu. Entrepreneurs in Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah, on the other hand, are permitted to sell nearly any homemade food item they wish, thanks to their states’ groundbreaking food freedom laws,” IJ said.
“Bakers tell us their newfound home-baking income helps them pay their bills, buy lessons for their kids and even afford health insurance,” said Jennifer McDonald, senior research analyst at IJ.
“These results demonstrate the near-immediate impacts of positive legal and policy reforms.”