I remember those hot summer days with the cool breezes, home-made apple pies, zucchini breads, and every flavor fudge imaginable. Grandmas were knitting doilies and clothes for babes, others cross stitching hand towels, toddlers playing at their mothers’ feet or helping them sell the latest and greatest. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies wafted through the building. Those days like so many of the good old days are long gone, the day of the great American craft show.
When HB 478 passed it prohibited people from selling baked goods without a commercial three sink kitchen, made them fill out an exorbitant amount of paperwork, and get a business licenses required for small side jobs basically used to pass the time after children are grown and gone. We're killing our local business market with big conglomerate laws applied to the craft fair business vendor. When we go to these shows we all know what we're getting into, we don’t need someone to say, “Eat at your own risk!” “This was made in a kitchen!”. However, there are breakouts of bacteria and recalls from major corporations all the time. Their food is not better than the little craft vendor. In fact, it's worse, laden with chemicals and preservatives; tasting like cardboard.
Resers Fine Foods recently issued a recall of products with contaminated onions from one supplier on April 10, 2016. Not even two weeks later CRF Frozen Foods LLC issued a recall on frozen vegetables. Both recalls were due to a contamination of listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious or even fatal reactions. Incidences with food contamination happen often. According to a study done by the CDC, it is estimated that deaths due to food-borne illness is approximately 5,020 per year. Obviously the reason for this law is to cut back on possible deaths, but how far must the government go to control our own free will. We don’t need to buy food from a vendor at a craft show. We can walk by as the consumer and say, “no thank you” if we don’t want a product.
Although the government tries to portray these laws as exciting opportunities on their websites, providing opportunity for food producers. In reality it adds more work and confusion to the local vendor. One way it’s harder is by making them use the metric system to tell consumers how much of whatever ingredient is in their product. The average food vendor may get frustrated because of the difficulty in hoop jumping for this new law. Richard Opper said, “This new law will increase access for consumers to delicious, locally produced food in locations all over Montana, while at the same time helps provide new business opportunities.” How does this increase access or provide new business opportunities? Many of these vendors don’t use the internet to expand their business. Will the average John Doe be able to find the end of the red tape and start up a new business more easily? Is there a free government website now connecting the consumer to locally made food products? No and No.
Products will always be somewhat of a risk to buy whether it is from a store and packaged in a large facility or from a small home kitchen. I found bugs in two separately packaged salads at Walmart. Would I find more bugs in grandpa Hank's salad sitting across the way that he picked this morning? Does he wash his dishes in one sink with soap then bleach them in another and rinse them in yet another? HB 478 lessens the all American traditions of hometown pride and the local mom and pop shop sense of community.