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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bake Sales in a Small Town

Well, I suppose L.A. and New York City and Chicago also have bake sales, but I don't think I was ever involved in one.  The UCLA Hospital, to cite one institution I was closely involved with, never had bake sales.  By contrast, here in Pt. Roberts, it seems I'm regularly involved in bake sales.  Bake sales were a big feature of the first year's Community/Saturday Market.  And then they were not.

And that was because the state sent us news of its laws about how you can't sell food in public if you haven't registered with the state and gotten special certificates for yourself and your kitchen, paid for those certificates and ensured that there was no risk whatsoever of any sort to any one who might buy one of your cookies.  The kids' lemonade stand did not make a reappearance.  Nor the cooky table.  Then word came round that, well, you could sell baked goods if it was for a charitable cause, and a few baked goods reappeared at the market.  But the people who were making lemonade and selling cookies weren't doing it for charities, for the most part, and last year, there was, I think, only one Saturday market that involved selling something to eat.

And that was a considerable shame.  Throughout the state, however, people were getting mighty irritated by this imposition of standards by the state.  One might easily agree that there need to be some standards involved in selling food to the public as a primary occupation.  But cookies at a Saturday Market?  You might as well demand that you provide government-approved certification when you invite friends over for dinner.  After all, something could go bad in the best of all possible worlds, and the best of all possible worlds is not even the one we live in.

Then the state said, well, OK.  We get your objections.  So now they have produced a new standard for 'cottagers.'  It occupies a middle ground between people who are cooking for the public as an occupation and people who are doing a little cooking for the public on the occasion of something like Farmers Markets.  You still have to get a certificate, but it is less burdensome and you need to post warnings, blah, blah, blah.  And it's a big improvement and good for the State.  But it really works only for those who are making a reasonable income for part of the year.  Not for those who are selling lemonade in Point Roberts at a Saturday Market.  And that is because the certificate costs $230.  That's no good, when you've only 8 summer market days and you're making, if you're very lucky, maybe $100 or so on any one of them.  And you are not even there every one of those eight Saturdays.

So thanks, but no cigar for us here in the exclave.  We do still have the charitable bake sale exception, but I read the state regulations for bake sales the other day and was surprised to find they include such restrictions as these.

1.  Items that may not be sold: "Cream filled desserts, lemon meringue pie, home canned foods, whipped cream, cream cheese, pumpkin pie, cheesecakes, and custard desserts."
2.  You need tongs and bakery papers and everything has to be individually wrapped.
3.  And, the ever-popular:  "The consumer should be informed by a clearly visible placard at the sales or service location that the foods are prepared in a kitchen that is not inspected by a regulatory authority."  I, myself, an average consumer, I'd think, of a Saturday Market or any other kind of Bake Sale held in Pt. Roberts would have never thought otherwise, with or without a sign.  [For the complete regulations for bake sales, see here.]

But that's regulation for you; it's always going to irritate somebody. I do wish, though, that somebody would look to regulating guns with as much consideration and caution and real stringency as are applied by the solons and their minions when regulating the sale of chocolate chip cookies.

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