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Minn. cottage food laws restrict small businesses, limit tasty treats

A cookie baked at home and sold at a farmer’s market in Minnesota is a legal cookie.

That same cookie, sold at a food stand or via an order placed on the Internet, is a violation of state law.

Two Minnesota women are challenging a series of state regulations on where and how baked goods and other so-called “cottage foods” — food products produced at home and offered for sale. Under the provisions of the law, such foods can only be sold at farmer’s markets and events like county fairs, but may not be sold from the home, from a food stand or other business like a local grocery store.

Producers of cottage foods in Minnesota are also not allowed to take orders for online sales.

“If you have a recipe and an oven, you should be able to start a business,” said Katelynn McBride, the lead attorney on the case for the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm representing the two women: Jane Astramecki and Mara Heck.

The case is part of a national effort by the law firm to fight what it sees as intrusive governmental regulations on how Americans produce, market, procure and consume food. Similar law suits were launched this week in Oregon and Florida.

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