Selling Homemade Food in Vermont

Vermont guarantees the right to work from home, but the state imposes significant restrictions on residential food businesses. A three-tier system also createcomplexity. Home bakers may sell their products directly to consumers without a license, but only if they keep gross sales below $125 per week, which translates to $6,500 per year. If home bakers go above this amount, they must apply for a license from the Vermont Department of Health. Different rules apply to home caterers, who may sell prepackaged or on-demand products directly to consumers or at retail establishments. “Exempt food processors” in a third category may produce and sell jarred and packaged goods such as jams, jellies, candies, chocolates, salsa, sauces and salad dressings. No permit or license is required, but gross annual sales cannot top $10,000. Small commercial bakery licenses also are available. Confused? The Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Business School tries to make sense of everything. 

Vermont cottage food types

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Cottage food producers in Vermont may sell breads, cookies, pastries, pies, crackers, pretzels and granolaHome caterers and exempt food processors may sell additional items. The Forrager Cottage Food Community provides a more detailed list of allowable Vermont cottage foods… 

Vermont 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.

Vermont 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 Vermont story

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

Support Vermont legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Vermont 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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