Mark Stambler was making award-winning baguette in his Los Angeles home. But then the health department “descended like a ton of bricks on the two stores that were selling my bread… they could no longer sell my bread.” Then they showed up at his house and shut him down. Here’s what happened next:
That’s when he “became an activist,” Stambler said in an email interview.
He started researching other states’ cottage food laws, which allow homemade food to be sold. To qualify as a cottage food, it must be designated by the state as “non-potentially hazardous,” meaning it has a low risk of spreading bacteria.
Out of the blue, he got a call from his Assemblyman, Mike Gatto, who read The Los Angeles Times profile, and wanted to help him and other small businesses.
Stambler helped Assemblyman Gatto draft the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616) to legalize cottage food. AB 1616 was overwhelmingly popular with lawmakers, passing the California State Assembly 60 to 16 and unanimously passing the state Senate in August 2012. Upon signing the bill, Gov. Jerry Brown praised AB 1616 as a way to “make it easier for people to do business in California.”
In January 2013, just a few days after the law went into effect, Stambler became the first person in Los Angeles County to sell homemade food legally.
Stories like this one, especially coming out of the Once-Golden State, give a glimmer of hope, don’t they?