All across the United States, people are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form a small but growing industry—the homemade or “cottage food” industry. The movement fits within a larger trend toward healthy eating and responsible sourcing, as consumers take greater interest in where their food comes from and who makes it. New Mexico expanded opportunities for cottage food producers in 2021 with the passage of the Homemade Food Act. Previously, New Mexico homemade food producers faced a complex maze of regulations. They had to submit detailed business plans, pass rigorous home inspections, and keep samples from each processed batch for 14 days after production. Inspectors sometimes required thousands of dollars in kitchen upgrades. The old rules, enforced by the New Mexico Environment Department, also banned online sales and in-home sales. The new rules allow New Mexico cottage food producers to sell a wide variety of products with little hassle.
New Mexico cottage food types
Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. New Mexico allows the sale of all shelf-stable foods that do require refrigeration. The 2021 Homemade Food Act does not list specific products, but generally authorizes “baking, cooking, cutting, dehydrating, drying, fermenting, growing, mixing, preserving, raising or other process.” The description covers baked goods and most types of candy, dry goods, pastries, jams, jellies, granola and nonalcoholic beverages.
New Mexico cottage food venues
New Mexico cottage food producers may sell their products directly to consumers on the internet and over the phone. The law allows mail delivery, in-person delivery and home pickup. Other transactions may occur at farmers’ markets, festivals and roadside stands. New Mexico cottage food producers may not use third-party vendors or wholesalers. They may not sell their goods at restaurants or retail outlets like grocery stores.
Getting started in New Mexico
To get started, New Mexico cottage food producers must complete a state-approved food handler certification course. New Mexico does not require a government inspection, permit or registration. However, New Mexico cottage food producers who want to register their operations may participate in a voluntary inspection and registration process through the state. All New Mexico cottage food producers must agree to keep pets and children out of the kitchen while producing food.
New Mexico cottage food labels
New Mexico cottage food producers must provide labels with each product that list the seller’s contact information, ingredients, and a disclaimer stating that the food is home-produced and exempt from state licensing and inspection.
Albuquerque cottage food sales
Prior to 2021, Albuquerque residents were not eligible for cottage food permits. Albuquerque operates outside the authority of the New Mexico Environment Department, and the city declined to adopt cottage food rules. As a result, Albuquerque residents could not legally sell a single homemade cookie or loaf of bread. The Homemade Food Act lifted the restriction. Now, New Mexico residents anywhere in the state can sell cottage food.
New Mexico 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.
New Mexico 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:
- Model Food Freedom Act from the Institute for Justice guides activism efforts at state capitols nationwide.
- Flour Power: How Cottage Food Entrepreneurs Are Using Their Home Kitchens to Become Their Own Bosses surveys 775 cottage food producers in 22 states about what their businesses mean to them.
- Ready to Roll highlights nine lessons from the Institute for Justice’s cottage food victory in Wisconsin.
- The Attack on Food Freedom examines the impact of regulations on farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others.
Tell your New Mexico story
Is government violating your homemade food freedom in New Mexico? Do you have a potential case for IJ? Get started here…
Support New Mexico legislation
Help expand cottage food laws in New Mexico 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.