This page serves as a guide for those looking to start a food business in SLO county. While the process can seem daunting, the county has a number of ways to get your product up and running, and we are here to serve as a resource and support group during this process.
COTTAGE FOOD GUIDELINES & REGULATIONS
Many of the food businesses that have participated in Slow Money SLO programs started at home! If you are looking for guidance on how to produce your goods in your own kitchen, read up on tips & standards here!
COMMERCIAL KITCHEN SPACE
Are you a food businesses in need of commercial kitchen space? Take a look at our most updated list of commercial kitchen space attached below!
STARTING A FOOD BUSINESS: FAQs
What is a Co-Packer: If your food business can’t make enough product to meet market demands, co-packers can be contracted out to manufacture more using your own recipe. Typically this happens when there is a spike in demand. Before a business enters into an agreement, the co-packer has to prove they can make the same product and make it inexpensively.
Can I turn my home into a commercial kitchen: Most likely not. You would have to create a separate structure, and the current zoning of your home would likely not allow for a commercial kitchen to be built, say in your garage. However, these are dependent on the city planning and building department, and are subject to change.
Can my Cottage kitchen be used as a commissary: Unfortunately you can not turn your own cottage kitchen into a commercial kitchen. The cottage kitchen space has to be within your own home, and the planning department would most likely not allow for commercial usage (renting out kitchen space) in a residence.
What farmers markets can I sell at with a cottage kitchen license: Most farmers markets in SLO county DO allow for vendors using the cottage food laws. However, check out the PDF for a complete list of which ones do and which don't.
What is meant by "direct sale" of cottage food: "Direct sales" are transactions between a Cottage Food Operator (CFO) and a consumer, where the consumer purchases the cottage food product directly from the CFO. These include transactions at temporary events, farm stands, certified farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture subscriptions, and transactions occurring in person at the cottage food home.
What is meant by "indirect sale" of cottage food: "Indirect sales" occur between CFO, a third-party retailer, and a consumer, where the consumer purchases cottage food products made by the CFO from a third-party retailer that holds a valid permit. Indirect sales include, sales made to retail food facilities including markets, restaurants, bakeries, and delis.
What are limitations on Internet sales and delivery of cottage food products: A CFO may advertise and accept orders and payments via the internet or phone. However, a CFO must deliver (in person) to the customer. A CFO may not deliver products via Mail or out of state. Additionally, CFO’s can sell cottage foods outside their county of residence only when the local environmental health agency of the outside county allows it.
HELPFUL LINKS FOR FOOD ENTREPRENEURS
SLO County cottage food laws: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/All-Environmental-Health-Services/Cottage-Food-Operation-Registration-or-Permit.aspx
SLO County commissary: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/All-Environmental-Health-Services/Catering-and-Other-General-Food-Service-Operations.aspx
Approved cottage foods: https://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Health-Agency/Public-Health/Environmental-Health/Forms-Documents/Reference-Materials/Food-Program-Reference-Documents/Cottage-Food-Operations-Reference-Materials/Requirements-for-Cottage-Food-Operator.pdf
The county and city departments are very helpful and responsive to any other questions you may have. However, we are also happy to answer questions about starting your food business. Contact us anytime!
MORE READING RESOURCES
There are many resources for those who are curious to learn more about the principles and values of Slow Money and its parallel movement Slow Food. We've collected a list of books expressing some ideas on how to live sustainability with soil, farms, and food in mind.
Slow Money founder and author Woody Tasch presents at Pathways to Sustainability
Slow Money leaders are another great resource to learn more about new ways to invest your money. Marco Vangelisti is an author and workshop leader who has visited the Central Coast a few times. His initiative, 'Essential Knowledge for Transition', can offer concrete tools on how to update your investment portfolio.