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What Is a Cottage Food Business?

During England's feudal era, the term cottage was used to describe a small house in which a family lived with a garden enough to feed that family and provide for the lord. The cottager, as the owner of the cottage was called, had to provide some service or some good in order to live there. As you'd probably expect, cottages were thus associated with a type of industriousness and so when people started selling food that they made at home or produced from their own gardens, that food and the industry around it became known as what is a cottage food business.

Back during the feudal era and up until the late 19th century, there weren't a lot of laws about what could and couldn't be sold from one's own home. Today, there are laws in place in order to protect the public from disease and bad participants, and it is important to know how to sell food from home legally in your area before you start advertising your wares.

What Is Cottage Food?

Technically anything that is made from your home can be called a cottage food. That said, when people generally ask what is cottage food or what are cottage foods, there are some pretty common answers. Plus, different places will have different stipulations on what they will or will not allow to be sold under their cottage food laws. This is why it is so important to check your local jurisdiction on any food regulations or restrictions before you open your cottage food business.

The most common and generally best selling cottage foods are those that you most commonly see at a farmers market. So think breads, fresh kinds of pasta, pastries and pies, jams and preserves, and specialty sauces and seasonings for your list of cottage foods.

Cottage Food Law

Remember, while cottage food generally can refer to any food you make within your own home and sell or donate to the general public, not all foods are permissible under a jurisdiction's cottage food law. You will find different cottage food laws by state and sometimes even by county. Which cottage food laws you will need to follow will depend upon where you live, not where you sell (although some states will explicitly prohibit selling across state lines).

The following is a look at just some of the most important things to know about cottage food law in several states:

Florida Cottage Food Laws

It is very easy to learn how to start a cottage food business in Florida. Here, you can keep all the advantages of a home-based business (including enjoy low cottage food law Florida taxes) so long as you don't exceed an annual gross sales cap of $50,000. Here, as with all food and beverage sales, you also don't have to worry about paying a cottage food law Florida sales tax.

That said, there are some important cottage food laws Florida 2021 that can be frustrating to follow. First, you must create a Florida cottage food label template and have it approved before you can start selling. Some products are also not allowed to be sold to any third-party distributor.

Michigan Cottage Food Law

The Michigan cottage food law is pretty lax and nicely exempts those who make allowed cottage food from needing licensing and special inspections as dictated by Michigan Food Law.

Cottage Food Law Virginia

There are new Virginia cottage food laws on the horizon, but for now, the most important thing for Virginians to know is that they will need to submit to an inspection by the state agriculture department in order to get approved licensing.

Cottage Food Laws Maryland

The cottage law Maryland is one of those in which you cannot sell or even offer for sale your cottage foods across state lines. But the answer to can I sell food from home Maryland is not all prohibition and it is fairly easy to learn how to start a cottage food business in Maryland. The Maryland cottage food law 2021 allows for a lot of different types of food sales and types of cottage food business Maryland, including sale by mail and personal delivery as well as sale via a retail food store.

Cottage Food Laws California

Most jurisdictions in the state of California will require cottage food business owners to obtain a cottage food permit California, such as a cottage food permit Los Angeles. There are also different levels to look at that will depend upon what you want to sell, to whom, and where. For example, a Class A cottage food permit California allows you to sell directly from your home or at sanctioned community events, such as the weekly farmers market.

Discover the timeless charm of the modern cottage food industry, where selling homemade food s your next business. Here's everything you need to know!

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!

Amanda McMonigle

The Whimsical Cookie


Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.

Kim Sims

Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets


Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company


Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats


I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha


I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.

Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.

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Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.

Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.

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