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Selling Homemade Food in Maryland

People love fresh-baked cookies and cake right out of the oven. Yet selling homemade food at most venues was illegal in Maryland until 2018Prior to legislative reforms passed that year, Maryland had some of the strictest limits in the nation, allowing home bakers to sell only at farmers’ markets or special events. Now, with a law supported by the Institute for Justicehome bakers may sell homemade food directly from home or through mail deliveries. Maryland also allowhome bakers to take custom orders.Another reform passed in 2019 allows the sale of homemade food at retail stores and food co-ops. Read more about Maryland’s homemade food rules… 

Maryland cottage food types

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Cottage food producers in Maryland may sell baked goods like breads and cookies, along with candies, honey, dry goods, pastries, jams, jellies and snacks. Forrager Cottage Food Community provides a more detailed list of allowable Maryland cottage food… 

Maryland cottage food facts

Myths about cottage food abound. Here are the facts: 

  • Cottage food is safe. Critics who talk about the risk of food-borne illness give hypothetical examples of what could go wrong because real-world cases are rare or nonexistent. 
  • Cottage food is local. When neighbors trade with neighbors, money stays in the local economy. 
  • Cottage food is transparent. People who buy from a cottage food producer know what they get. If they have questions about ingredients, sourcing or safety, they can ask.
  • Cottage food creates jobs. Many homemade food producers use their income to provide for their families. Others seek a secondary or supplemental income. 
  • Cottage food empowers women. IJ cottage food research shows that most cottage food producers are women, and many live in rural areas with limited economic opportunity.
  • Cottage food expands consumer choice. Some stores simply don’t sell what you want. This is especially true if you have a gluten-free, peanut-free, halal, kosher or vegan diet. Cottage food fills market gaps, giving consumers more options.

Maryland cottage food resources 

As part of its Food Freedom Initiative, the Institute for Justice provides a variety of resources for home bakers and other food entrepreneurs. These include: 

Selling Homemade Food in Maryland

Maryland cottage food resources:

  • Maryland Cottage Food Reform: Like our Facebook page to learn more about the Maryland cottage food law, how you can get involved, and learn tips of the trade from fellow cottage food producers.

Tell your Maryland story

Is government violating your homemade food freedom in Maryland? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here… 

Support Maryland legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Maryland by teaming with the Institute for Justice. Send an email with your name, background information and availability to get started… 

Defending homemade food freedom nationwide 

People have a right to earn an honest living without arbitrary and excessive government interference. Since 2013, the Institute for Justice has defended home bakers and chefs as part of its Food Freedom Initiative. Read about IJ’s nationwide food freedom advocacy…

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All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Statutes, regulations, and processes are subject to change at any time, and specific facts and circumstances could alter how they are applied. If you have questions about the regulation of cottage foods in your jurisdiction, we recommend consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the process. 

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