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Selling Homemade Food in Rhode Island

People love fresh-baked cookies and cakes right out of the oven, but only farmers can sell homemade food in Rhode Island. Everyone else is out of luck. The Rhode Island Farm Home Food Manufacture Law, adopted in 2002 and modified as recently as 2012, specifies that homemade food sold at farmers’ markets and other venues in Rhode Island must be prepared “in a kitchen that is on the premises of a farm.” Even for farmers who qualify, things are not easy in Rhode Island. Before receiving permission from the Rhode Island Department of Health to sell homemade food, many farmers must modify their kitchens to meet standards specified in the law. They also must submit to inspections and make their recipes available for government review. 

Rhode Island cottage food types

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Rhode Island regulates “farm home food” instead. Allowable items include: Jams, jellies, preserves and vinegars prepared using locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs; double crust pies made with locally grown fruit; yeast breads; maple syrup from the sap of trees on the farm or of trees within a 20-mile radius of the farm; candies and fudges; and dried herbs and spices. 

Rhode Island 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.

Rhode Island 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: 

Tell your Rhode Island story

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

Support Rhode Island legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Rhode Island 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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