North Dakota and Illinois passed their versions of a food freedom law but prohibited the sale of most TCS foods that are also provided in explicit lists. Illinois also requires labeling, has a cap on sales, and in 2018 allowed the sale by a small home-based business of any food or beverage not in the exception list. Maine authorized its local governments in developing their own ordinances to exempt producers of any food directly sold to consumers from food safety regulations (except for meat and poultry operations that remain under federal inspection and licensing).
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Explore This IssueAugust/September 2019
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Cottage Foods Outside the U.S.
Europe. In Europe, farmers markets are also increasing in popularity and for some of the same reasons as in the U.S. About 71 percent of farmers market shoppers in Italy perceived the products are of “high quality” and offer “guarantees of safety.” Consumers are focused on health, their well-being, and the environment. For the shoppers, buying cottage foods eliminates the middle salespeople, making prices attractive, supporting the local business economy, and allowing them to provide instant product feedback through this direct relationship with the farmer or product manufacturer. Farmers markets also offer pleasant social venues with entertainment, cultural, and educational activities.
Italy is the European country with the largest network of farmers markets. According to the leading farmer organization, Campagna Amica, Italian farmers markets contribute an estimated sale of €6 billion. Campagna Amica represents about 500,000 farmers and has 130,000 farm members selling directly to consumers, in addition to other direct-to-consumer markets in many other cities. In Sicily, a regional law authorized municipalities to define the locations and methods of direct sales. Farmers are encouraged to inform shoppers of the direct link with the terroir where the produce or animal was grown and the product was manufactured. The link establishes the specificity of each farmers market, a feature likely to be adopted by other farmers markets in Italy.
Farmers markets in Italy, Spain, and France offer direct-to-consumer sales of regional products that are prepared under established traditions. In Portugal and Greece, farmers markets further inject industrial conventions to their regional and traditionally made products. Although farmers markets in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany are more “modern” and commercial, they also sell directly to consumers and address environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
In post-Communist countries such as Russia, Croatia, Latvia, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, the farmers market, or “villagers market” as it is called in Albania, remains as the traditional channel for local food. Supermarkets are a newer food channel in Albania, being introduced in 2005, and are perceived as “trusted sources of food” but not as the primary sources of organic and good-quality fruits and vegetables. Just as traditional farmers markets are in industrialized countries, supermarkets (i.e. the newer markets) are also used as social places of entertainment. In both the industrialized and post-Communist countries, farmers or producers sell their locally grown or manufactured products directly to consumers.
U.K. Just as with the rest of the world, farmers markets are also popular in the U.K. Farmers markets address U.K. shoppers’ growing interest in locally produced foods they perceive offer better taste and connect them to a “rural heritage” and “culinary traditions,” resulting in a 30 percent sales increase from 2011-2015.
Although supermarkets are commonplace in the U.K., they are seen negatively by some Green consumers. As a result, many shoppers turn to farmers markets to buy locally produced goods they assume are organic, natural, and Green. Shoppers also prefer farmers markets to align with their social, environmental, ethical, and moral values such as fair trade, animal welfare, support and trust in local producers, small-scale agriculture, health, and food safety. Thus, sales of organic food in farmers markets in the U.K. increased by 3.5 percent in 2013 compared to an increase of only 1.2 percent in supermarkets during the same time period. To farmers market shoppers, organic fruits and vegetables are “tastier,” “local, healthy, and environmentally friendly,” and “free of pesticides and hormones” making them “Greener” consumers.