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Selling Homemade Food in Virginia

Virginia shoppers looking for homemade food have many options. Virginia’s Home Kitchen Food Processing Exemptions, expanded in 2013, allow home-based business owners to sell fresh-baked items and other products without government inspections or permitsCompliance is fairly simple, although certain restrictions apply. For example, home producers of acidic foods like pickles cannot exceed $3,000 in total annual gross sales. And anyone who operates without a license may only sell products at home or at farmers’ markets. If home food producers want to sell online or at other venues, they must submit to additional government oversight. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides additional details… 

Virginia cottage food types

Many states regulate “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale. Unlicensed homemade food producers in Virginia may sell baked goods like breads and cookies, along with candy, honey, pickles, salsa, vinegar, dry goods, pastries, jams, jellies and granolaThe Forrager Cottage Food Community provides a more detailed list of allowable Virginia cottage foods 

Virginia 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.

Virginia 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 Virginia story

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

Support Virginia legislation

Help expand cottage food laws in Virginia 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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