Legal Followup on Selling a Pie to Your Neighbor

Cape Charles Wave

January 26, 2015

Martin Luther King Day was an appropriate day for the many advocacy organizations to come together at the Richmond General Assembly for their Lobby Day. This is a day in which individuals and groups can visit their Senator and Delegate and express their interest in pending legislation. I attended to promote a bill to allow the farmer and individuals the right to create food products in their home for sale to individuals without government intervention. These products would need to be labeled as not government inspected and could not be sold for resale.

House Bill 1290 would allow you or your neighbor to bake a pumpkin pie and sell it to someone who wants to eat home-baked goods but may not be able to make it himself. Older folks who can’t get out of the house to shop could order meals from a neighbor and provide a livelihood for a stay-at-home mom and obtain good nutrition in return. This is the lowest level of commerce, and the ability to fend for oneself in the kitchen should be available to all citizens.

The problem with Virginia regulations is that they are geared to an industrial product in which a farmer has acres of corn, soy, and wheat, or a factory that produces sterile, shrink-wrapped food. There is a whole subculture of individual entrepreneurs for whom these laws do not work. The legal bar to creating a small home-based food business is so high that many people operate small businesses illegally, or look for a low-paid job with a retailer in which they have no personal investment aside from putting in the specified number of hours.

Working for oneself empowers people to think creatively and is the historic foundation of the economy in our country. However, our laws in Virginia stifle the individual in favor of the corporation or corporate farm. I advocate a two-tier system of laws that support both small and large enterprises. This approach would provide maximum choice to individuals who could then decide for themselves what kind of food they prefer to buy. This provides opportunity for everyone.

Let me tell you about two of the people I met who support the Virginia Food Freedom bill:

barberBernadette Barber is the author of HB1290 and the leader of the Virginia Food Freedom movement. She and her husband were part-time farmers who took up farming full time after their son’s chronic illness led to multiple hospitalizations and no answers from the medical community. They raise chickens, vegetables, and a few dairy cows on their small farm in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Bernadette attributes her son’s much-improved health to the milk from her cows. She makes sweet potato pies, pesto, and lasagne mostly from ingredients she raises herself which she would like to sell to her neighbors. She does not have the money required to make changes to her farm kitchen so that she can comply with over 40 pages of health department regulations. Yet this is food she serves to her own family.

moyerJoanna Moyer is 19 and lives on her family’s small farm in Russell County. She’d like to stay there and start an artisan cheese-making business with the goats she takes care of. She and two other area farmers drove over six hours to attend Lobby Day. Joanna has read the regulations so much that I believe she has them memorized and has analyzed exactly what she needs to get started. She figures that her startup capital costs would be upwards of $15,000 and would include a 15-gallon pasteurizer ($13,000), 3-basin sink, and impervious floors, walls- and ceilings in both the milk- and cheese-making rooms, and inspection and milk testing fees — too much for her or her family to afford. I’d love to be able to buy her gouda with fermented spicy peppers, but she could be arrested for selling it to me under current Virginia law.

These small farmers are the face of the ever-growing family farm movement. Even on the Eastern Shore we can see the growth in many small farms that have popped up over the last few years. These farms are likely members of the Virginia Farm Bureau, but the Farm Bureau opposes the right of these farmers to add to their income by selling farm food products without inspection. One farmer I spoke to said that if he was allowed to keep three cows in production for sale of milk at his farm as allowed by the proposed bill HB1461, he could bring in $15,000 to $20,000 a year to add to his income. This sum could enable a mother to stay at home with her children or could allow the farmer to make capital improvements on the farm.

karenI and the other Virginia Food Freedom folks had the good fortune to meet with our Eastern Shore Delegate Robert Bloxom Jr. on Monday. Del. Bloxom is on the Agriculture Committee. I described HB1290 to him and he expressed concerns regarding the sale of raw oysters. It seems that if a person becomes ill from eating a raw oyster the doctor must report the event to the Centers for Disease Control. If the number of events exceeds a certain threshold, then the oyster farmer could be required to cook all of his oysters rather than selling them raw, which brings in more profit. We discussed various options to allow a waterman or dairy farmer to sell his product directly to individuals by including a disclaimer that farm-fresh milk or raw oysters can make one ill. Delegate Bloxom spent a good half hour of his valuable time discussing these issues with us. While he did not promise to vote in favor of this bill, he did say he would give it considerable thought.

Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader in the battle for equality because he experienced the humiliation of segregation to inferior accommodations and the lack of opportunity fostered by exclusion from groups that took care of their own at the expense of others. Our struggle for food rights is similar in that we know that there are large organizations that strive for the status quo and do not wish to see the change and opportunity that the Virginia Food Freedom bill will allow. These organizations claim that food safety is their concern, but isn’t that something that individuals can choose on their own? If I buy a product from my neighbor and become sick, then I will not buy from that person again. If I am concerned about my health, then it would be prudent to investigate before eating food from a neighbor.

Food safety is not guaranteed with government inspection, especially since the inspector can’t be there at the food production site every moment. Let’s let people make their own choices.

If you believe that HB 1290 (sponsored by Robert Bell) would be good for the Eastern Shore of Virginia here’s what you can do:

1. Call our House Delegate Robert Bloxom (District 100), who is also on the Agriculture Committee, at (804) 698-1000. Ask Del. Bloxom to co-patron the Bill. Follow up with an email at [email protected].

2. Call State Senator Lynwood Lewis Jr. (District 6) at (804) 698-7506 and ask that he sign on to the Bill, even though it is in the House. You can email him at [email protected].

3. Visit the Virginia Food Freedom webpage at and sign the petition. Donate if you are able.


CLICK to read Karen Gay’s January 5 COMMENTARY: Time to Deregulate Home-Cooked Meals



26 Responses to “COMMENTARY
Legal Followup on Selling a Pie to Your Neighbor”

  1. Andy Zahn on January 26th, 2015 11:38 am

    First of all the state and federal government doesn’t give a darn about the elderly and disabled citizens. We are home bound and need nursing care but almost all of our huge expenses are paid by us with almost no help. All the government does is demand. Get a photo ID or lose all your rights. We sent our tax payments to Accomack early but the envelope is postmarked Richmond on December 8 and we are made to pay a penalty. The check was written and sent by a helper on December 1st.
    The government is protecting us from ourselves and I wish they would butt out. Things were better and food was a whole lot better before they stuck their nose into everything. “Choice” beef was corn fed, had fat, was marbled, aged, and was tender, juicy and delicious. What we buy now is garbage. It would be great to go to a farmer and buy some good beef, pork, or other meat or prepared food.

    There is danger in everything. Should we give up living? I am 83 and long ago said I would rather have 50 or 60 good years than 100 years of never having fun or eating what I liked. Many of us love oysters and clams on the half shell and we used to “pig out” at the Oyster Festival. All my life I have had eggnog with (zounds!) raw eggs. I still make eggnog with raw eggs but now I add a little brandy or rum. Horrors! My family ate raw ground beef with salt and some onion. We’re still here and we still enjoy raw beef.

    I’ll tell you another thing. Boys, especially, were always playing in the dirt and not big on washing or bathing. We probably ate a lot of food that wasn’t too clean but to my knowlege none of us had any food allergies and with all the dirt on our hands we were probably naturally immune to a lot of diseases including tetanus.

    The government decides if your house is livable, if your boat is seaworthy, how many belts and air bags you must have and if one beer is too much, and they are working on a boat operator’s license and mandatory life jacket law. More laws, more police, more confrontations, more violators, and more fines. Soon you will be required to carry a photo ID at all times and someday they will send a “pill cop” to your home to be sure you took your pills.

    It’s amazing that the Farm Bureau would oppose this bill, and like the AARP, with friends like this who needs enemies? Raw milk is delicious and so different from pasturized. If people trust a farmer and his cows, let them drink milk! The marketplace will straighten things out. If the quality and sanitation doesn’t measure up the person will go out of business.

  2. Janet Sturgis on January 26th, 2015 2:51 pm

    While Karen Gray’s evocative simile comparing the Virginia Food Freedom movement with Martin Luther King Day/Lobby day activities may sway many to support that movement, I wish to make a few points that will hopefully enlighten the reader to the potential pitfalls and perils associated with the Free Food Movement. To equate the Free Food Movement with the struggle for Civil Rights for African-Americans and other minorities is folly and, in my opinion, downright insulting. Business owners (many local) claimed it was their right not to serve or employ minorities during the days of Jim Crow and flagrant discrimination.

    Current Virginia laws regarding food safety as pertaining to public health surely pass the Supreme Court standards of tests of rationality and strict scrutiny. The State, in fact, has a duty to protect its citizens, especially those most vulnerable, i.e. children, the elderly, and those unable to make a completely and competently informed decision.
    Many of today’s “emerging pathogens” are or can be transmitted through food and/or water. I won’t burden the reader with the list. All one has to do is Google “emerging pathogens food and water.” Of course, we still have the old standbys to deal with as well: Hepatitis A, Salmonella, Staph, Strep, Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Listeria, E.coli, etc.

    While food production or preparation in licensed, inspected, compliant facilities does not insure 100% that food- or water-borne illness will not be transmitted to the consumer, it certainly reduces the risk to a more manageable level. It also makes epidemiological investigation of suspected outbreaks easier to track, treat, and subdue.
    Recent recalls may, on the surface, suggest that the foods involved are unsafe even if regulated and inspected, but they are actually evidence that the system works. To rely on physicians and hospitals to report (even though required) suspected illness due to food or water is not ordinarily helpful. Experience has taught me that this simply does not happen most of the time. To suggest that watermen cook their shellfish if prior illness has been reported in association with their raw product is closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. (Actually, it exhibits a dangerous lack of understanding of pathogens, epidemiology, and food safety.)

    While “dry type non potentially hazardous baked goods” offer the least risk for making the consumer ill (unless toxins have been inadvertently incorporated), dairy and shellfish are potentially lethal — no exaggeration. The Virginia Bureau of Shellfish Sanitation routinely tests state waters and picking, shucking, and packing facilities, closing waters to harvest or facilities to production when dangerous bacteria levels and other criteria indicate an imminent public health danger. The Virginia State Health Department and Department of Agriculture programs involving inspection, education, training, and oversight insure to the maximum degree possible that you, the consumer, are not exposed to foods contaminated by rodent and insect filth, tainted by cross contamination, rendered unsafe by improper refrigeration or other mishandling, and are properly sourced, thus minimizing exposure to pathogens. Many of these are easily and often transmitted to others, beyond the initial contact with contaminated foods, especially dairy and shellfish. The “raw milk” movement scares the daylights out of me due to the number of and severity of illness implicated by exposure to pathogens through unpasteurized and improperly pasteurized dairy products (again, Google it).

    You see, at one time I was employed by the Virginia State Health Department. My training and rotation of duties included but was not limited to inspection of dairies, food processing plants, shellfish plants, nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants, childcare facilities, marinas, meat processing and packing plants, bottling plants, and investigation of food-borne illnesses. I was also a member of the Eastern Regional committee that helped review and write law and policy as they pertained to food protection and safety. I believe I am in a better position than most to bear witness to what can happen due to unsafe foods.

    By the way, I am the member of a local CSA [Community Supported Agriculture], grew most of my own produce for decades, buy organic whenever possible, and support the Buy Local movement. I am also dedicated to educate nonbelievers to the reality that good, sound public health practices are in their best interest. I have not even touched the topic of liability. That little disclaimer on the food product will likely amount to squat in a court of law. Someone will get sick, believe you me. I am certain homeowners policies do not cover this sort of thing. Also, how will local, state, and federal taxes be tracked and collected? Surely, the “movement” does not propose to be exempt from those responsibilities as well.

    I realize that in these tough times, many are looking for a way to supplement their incomes. While the intent might be noble and good, it will certainly lead to many unintended consequences and is NOT in the best interest of the public. “Caveat emptor” simply has no place in public safety or health law and policy.
    Janet Sturgis

  3. Dana Lascu on January 26th, 2015 5:40 pm

    Bummer, there go my parties too. Or it would be BYOPTMKY (bring your own pathogens that might kill you) from now own. I have no time to cook during the week and no desire to cook on the weekend. I am also tired of always hopping to a restaurant, where I would surely kill two hours to ingest something, au poivre and au MSG. Since I don’t have a spouse with time to cook, I would much prefer this intelligent alternative to the ready-made supermarket stuff that has additives and few nutrients – and that can also kill me. I would die happier with home-made food. Finally, what is NOT cool about advocacy groups lobbying on Martin Luther King Day?!

  4. Karen Gay on January 27th, 2015 11:51 am

    Ms. Sturgis, I don’t doubt your expertise and knowledge of pathogens and food-borne illness. It seems as if you’ve had many years of working with the worst of processed food. While I appreciate the earnestness with which you state your case, I’d really like folks from Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to leave the little guy alone and give people a break. If it was truly the government’s job to protect citizens from harm, then they would ban factory farms, diet coke, and even automobiles. The fact is that our laws are put in place by fallible people some of whom are susceptible to financial blandishments. I am not saying that our senators and delegates are taking bribes from large companies and organizations, but I do believe that this money helps some of them get re-elected. Unfortunately, the small farmer and individual entrepreneur cannot compete in this environment and in time, if some of us don’t protest we’ll all end up eating shrink-wrapped food and dealing with the subsequent consequence of degenerative diseases.

    I want to be able to go to my farmer and buy the foods I think are right for my family just as I want you to be able to buy the food you prefer. If raw milk, full of probiotics and enzymes, gives you the heebie jeebies, then don’t buy it. I support your right to not buy it. I support Mr. Zahn’s right to eat with such gusto eggnog with raw eggs and brandy! For some education apart from your government training I suggest you explore There is usually more than one side to an issue, it’s good practice to understand all aspects.

  5. Raquel Manne on January 27th, 2015 2:37 pm

    I believe this issue is much more complicated than people realize. Government regulations are in place for a reason. Protecting public health, I would think, should be one of the major functions of any government, and why anyone would be against that boggles my mind.

    On the surface, this issue looks like an innocuous, even noble venture –- hard-working farmers, cooks, dairy producers, etc., whose only interest is in producing foodstuffs for local residents who are looking for more healthy (i.e. organic) food options as well as providing a living for themselves and their families. But the reality is, we don’t live in a perfect world, where everyone is noble and has noble goals and pure motives or actions. Because there are people out there who will try to cut corners and sell an inferior product with only their desire to make an easy buck, with no thought of the welfare of who they sell to and taking no pride in their products. (There are also people who may not know, through no fault of their own, how to produce safe foods or food products.)

    How will consumers be able to be confident that the products that they are buying, without any oversight whatsoever, are actually what they are touted to be and are safe? How will they know that the meat, poultry, dairy products, or tasty pies that they purchase have been made with wholesome ingredients, in a clean environment, and with care being taken with regard to how the products are prepared? How, without some kind of oversight, will consumers be able to buy these products confidently, trusting that what they are buying is not going to make them sick? How will they know that the foods haven’t been prepared by someone who was sick or wasn’t maintaining a clean kitchen or workstation? How will they know that the grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, or “farm fresh” milk IS actually what they are getting, and not something that’s been shipped in from somewhere else, at a cheaper cost? How will they know that the foods haven’t been spoiled by sitting out too long unrefrigerated or have been cooked for a requisite amount of time in order to eradicate various bacteria? And what of those people who WILL try to cut corners — who will try to pass off inferior, substandard, or even fake products as “pure” and “homemade?”

    Does the average consumer have to wait until someone gets sick from these products, as was mentioned in the article? It made shivers run up my spine to read, “These organizations claim that food safety is their concern, but isn’t that something that individuals can choose on their own? If I buy a product from my neighbor and become sick, then I will not buy from that person again. If I am concerned about my health, then it would be prudent to investigate before eating food from a neighbor.”

    What does this mean? That even if someone becomes sick from buying certain products from one of these producers, that producer would be allowed to continue to sell their tainted products to others, allowing others to get sick, with no fear of punishment or intervention? How many people would have to get sick for this to be a problem? Or, I guess, there would be no problem — because, you know, we really don’t care if someone gets sick, because then that’s THEIR fault for buying an inferior product. They should have known better, they should have investigated more thoroughly, they should have done their due diligence before buying.

    And hey, you know, every average citizen knows LOTS about food safety. What would the “due diligence” for the average consumer purchasing these food products consist of? Going into the kitchens and workstations of the food preparers, checking out the milk and dairy products that they’re about to buy for — what? As a typical consumer, I wouldn’t necessarily know what to look for, what temperature levels to look for, what kind of testing should be done on products to ensure their safety. THAT is what government agencies like the Dept. of Health and Shellfish Sanitation do — they hire people TRAINED to not only set guidelines but to KNOW what to look for and to stop the production and sale of tainted food BEFORE people get sick.

    Why would ANYONE have a problem with that? Although NO system is perfect and errors can be and are made in ANY program, it would seem to me that removing food safety regulations would create MORE problems. And if these regulations are removed for a certain segment of food producers, what’s to say that that isn’t a slippery slope toward doing away with ALL food regulations (which it sounds like the author and some supporters of this bill want, because you know, “big government.”)

    Some may argue in favor of “self regulation,” which is a joke. If individuals, businesses, and companies had historically regulated themselves properly, with regards to product safety, work standards, etc., there would have been no need for government intervention and subsequent regulations.

    Again, we do not live in a perfect world. Don’t we want safe foods that we buy from our local and/or chain grocery stores? Not everyone is able to travel to or buy from these home-operated and/or “whole” food producers, due to time, distance, and money. What of them?

    As far as doing whatever you want with food, ANYONE is free to swallow raw eggs or eat raw or very rare beef or oysters, although we are often advised not to. No one will come “lock you up” if you choose to lick a cake batter beater. That’s something that you do at your own risk. But why allow unregulated food producers to increase that risk to unsuspecting consumers? If I choose to swallow a raw egg, a la Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky,” then that’s my business — I can do that. But if I choose to buy a homemade pie from some lady down the street, I am trusting that under current regulations that pie will be safe for me to consume.

    With no oversight, it is quite likely that this person could sell numerous pies (what if I bought in bulk to serve, say, a family or high school class reunion?) and many people were made ill. What then? Would this person be allowed to continue selling her wares? How many people need to get sick before folks are crying out for SOMEONE to do SOMETHING?

    Before government oversight and regulation of America’s blood banks, HIV-tainted blood was being administered to unsuspecting patients nationwide. The blood banks demanded “self-regulation” but were actually doing nothing. They didn’t want the hassle of government oversight nor did they want to do the extra leg work to make sure that their blood and blood products were safe. Consequently, numerous patients were infected with HIV through no fault of their own, by being given contaminated blood. Fortunately, government intervention came about and the blood banks were required to take the steps to make sure that the blood was safe.

    The trend today is for many to hop onto the “anti-government” bandwagon, as if “government” were a big, bad, bogeyman intent on ruining the lives and opportunities of our citizens, when in actuality, keeping its citizens safe (yes, it could do a better job, but better than no oversight at all), whether from hostile forces attacking with military might or with regard to the foods and beverages its citizens consume, should be considered the very LEAST that a government can do.

    I apologize for the length of this reply, but as you can see, there are MANY questions out there that need to be answered regarding this issue. It’s NOT a simple matter.

  6. Andy Zahn on January 27th, 2015 4:42 pm

    Janet Sturgis is correct in pointing out many risks involved with eating. Big brother has for too long put restrictions on our basic freedom to make our own choices, and if we wish to assume risk it should be our call. We take a risk by joining the military, by engaging in sports, by crossing the street, and recently even by buying spinach, green onions, and melons.
    If you eat things that may cause problems it is vital to only choose foods of the highest quality and sanitation. No matter where you buy your food you need to trust the provider and everyone from the producer to the trucker to the storekeeper.
    One son delivered food to eating establishments and several had less than sanitary conditions in the kitchens out of sight of the customers.

    The large factory farms are interested in the greatest weight gain on the least amount of food in the shortest time possible and so they feed growth hormones and antibiotics which may cause children to mature early and if ill get no results from medicines.
    I have raised poultry and sold eggs and was very careful to collect, wash, and refrigerate the eggs several times a day. I have killed and cared for the deer and other animals in our diet and was well aware of how careful you need to be and how you do the job as quick as you can. I know the danger of rare hamburgers, much as I love them, because any germ in the meat will be spread to the entire lot as it goes through the grinder. When we eat raw hamburger it is freshly ground beef round and we eat but little, well aware of the risk.

    My dear wife made the most wonderful pie crust and the greatest pies with our own apples, and people would die for a slice of her lemon meringue pie — but they were never for sale.

  7. Dana Lascu on January 27th, 2015 8:21 pm

    We are not talking about selling monkey brains or Rocky Mountain oysters, just simple baked goods and other basic home-made dishes. Or, maybe we can coax a borscht lady out of one of the lovely four-squares in town. I so need some home-made borscht…

  8. Karen Gay on January 28th, 2015 6:39 pm

    Ms Manne, thanks so much for your reply to my article. I do appreciate your and Ms Sturgis’ opinions regarding food safety. What I see though is that the food safety regulations apply equally to General Mills and my fictional next door neighbor, Dottie. I want the regulations to apply to General Mills. But why not help Dottie get her home-cooked meals for the elderly off the ground? Why does she need a 3-basin stainless steel sink in her kitchen? Why does she need 2 refrigerators – one for her own food, and one for the food for the business. Now, I know for a fact that not all food inspectors are created equally. Many are flexible and will work with small producers and others are either sticklers or even bullies.

    Those pies that you may want to purchase from your neighbor are becoming increasingly scarce because of these regulations. I hope you like Sara Lee lemon meringue pie with its high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernal oil, and carageenan! I’ll bet none of these ingredients were in Andy Zahn’s wife’s pie.

    Another question is what’s the point of the one day exemption on inspections for church bake sales and other non-profit events? These one-day bacteria-fests could kill you just as quickly as Dottie’s uninspected kitchen could. And what should the government do if this law is passed and Dottie unwittingly passes on some bad arugula to a customer? The inspectors, if the problem is widespread, should come in and determine the cause of the problem and then help (not punish) Dottie with remediation, which might include not buying arugula from that vendor again.

    On this topic I am on the anti-regulation bandwagon, but not the anti-government bandwagon. I worked for 20 years in the Washington DC area alongside of many dedicated government workers. The folks I worked with cared so much about doing a good job as do most home kitchen chefs, and even food inspectors. These individuals want to do a good job, but their work is perverted by special interests such as you see in the revolving door between large corporations like Monsanto and Merck and the FDA, USDA and the CDC. The large pharmaceutical, food, and chemical companies serve their stockholders by trying for ever increasing profits and the end result is the suppression of the market for whole, real foods and an increase in degenerative and auto-immune diseases. But I am digressing here, and without a doubt you’ll be hearing from me on this topic in the future.

    A friend of mine wrote the following to me: “We eat at the homes of people we trust and people who trust us eat at our house and that’s what food is all about. Trust.”

  9. Andy Zahn on January 29th, 2015 6:31 am

    Andy Zahn’s wife made her pies with only the best and most natural ingredients. For the crust it HAD to be Gold Medal flour and Crisco shortening. Real lemons, sugar, eggs, cornstarch and constant stirring while the lemon mixture cooked and thickened. While for some, sugar is an absolute no-no, they would just have to go without and for the rest the key to a good diet is to not eat the same food day after day, so the pies were a treat just as a Big Mac only happened rarely.

    There are such things as birthday parties, church dinners, cake sales, fund raisers, and other events where uninspected and homemade foods are eaten and greatly enjoyed with no problems and then rarely something goes wrong same as it does at times with store-bought foods. We have had some problems with bad meats at local stores and you need to look, feel, and smell the items before cooking. Again, it’s all a matter of trust.

  10. Ethan Brent on February 4th, 2015 10:14 pm

    Interesting how all of the naysayers are long-winded and preachy. What is wrong with ‘tolerance’ and some ‘live and let live’? Their quaint belief is like cranking out all of the same hackneyed old fear-mongering tripe of yesteryear, since fear sells and is still effective in pushing people’s programmed Pavlovian response.

    These are new times. If you are not savvy enough to get a sense that the neighbor or local small farmer isn’t carefully enough at a homemaker to keep herself/ himself and his/ her own families from getting sick from their own food, then continue consuming that ‘safe’ insipid, chemically -laden, truck ripened, low nutritional supermarket fare until you die or IT kills you off, which comes first.

  11. Karen Gay on February 5th, 2015 12:53 pm

    Ethan, now you’ve made me examine all of MY comments for their length. I am thinking that I might fall into the long-winded category too! And definitely preachy!

  12. Janet Sturgis on February 5th, 2015 10:59 pm

    My “credentials” go beyond those of a formally trained food safety officer,( having worked with the BEST as well as the worst of processed and unprocessed foods from farm to table). I have made it an ongoing priority to educate myself, formally and at leisure, on many aspects of food and nutrition. Foodways have always been of great interest to me as they reveal much about a culture, its history and character.
    As mentioned in my comments,I am a proponent of organically and locally sourced foods and eschew what you would refer to as “processed foods”. Contrary to inference and innuendo, I am not a stooge or flunky of the government, or some Food Code thumping nut. The worst food borne outbreaks I have seen were due to homemade ice cream at a family reunion( Salmonellaosis) , and homemade potato salad, served to over 100 people(Staphylococcal poisoning), all lovingly prepared in home kitchens.
    Our oversight and enforcement of food safety have been eroded in recent years, due to budget constraints etc. We are seeing the results of that, I believe, with the deterioration of safe and wholesome food supplies. Beeing the beneficiaries of a relatively safe food supply has lead to our complacency and a false sense of security.
    To make it short and sweet, self regulation does not work and “let the buyer beware” makes poor law and policy in public health and safety. The following are recent examples of why this bill should not be supported or passed.
    The raw milk was served to the victims without their knowledge. The genetic profile of the bacterial culprit traced it to the dairy farm and provided irrefutable evidence that the raw milk was to blame.

    One outbreak could tarnish the reputation of the burgeoning local food movement and farmers markets or do irreparable damage to our seafood industry.
    Wanting and wishing something to be true will not make it so. Pseudo science, fad and fashion make poor reference and evidence for argument. Individual choice and freedom ends where the safety of others is put at risk. Actually READ and digest what I have written instead of posturing on assumption.
    Janet Sturgis

  13. Wayne Creed on February 6th, 2015 12:00 pm

    This is a good, important debate. In reality though, the “Good Food Movement” is, at its heart the ultimate DIY movement. That is, you really need to do this yourself and not worry about having to buy it all the time. It’s easy to make yogurt, and where even the best you can purchase will hardly have 3 to 5 strains of probiotics, using the starter kits, you can rock out with up to 15 strains. Once you make the yogurt, extract the whey (leaving awesome Greek style yogurt, or sour cream), and use that to max out probiotics with fermented vegetables. Grow some wheat grass in the window, get a juicer (mix wheat grass and yerba matte for a morning jolt, although it kinda is like drinking a cup of dirt) and go lean and mean vegan — you get it.

    But if you do want to sell out of your kitchen, you must be prepared to submit to inspection and licensing — but, there should be middle ground, and I think that is what Karen is talking about. A two-tiered method of inspection and licensing. Having to maintain a commercial grade kitchen to sell a few jars of pickles seems like overkill. A new set of guidelines for boutique sellers may make sense, but we’ll see where this debate all goes.

    I just drank a big cup of yerba matte, so I typed this really fast!

  14. Janet Sturgis on February 6th, 2015 12:38 pm

    Karen Gay,
    In defense of the length of your original article and following replies concerning HB1290, it is my understanding that the duty of a writer is to offer enough information for the reader to make an informed opinion, regardless of their acceptance of the writers point of view. I think we, as a culture, are losing that ability, choosing to take a “lazier way” out by the overuse of tools such as memes, emoticons and quips. This is eroding our ability to effectively communicate and is hindering our learning and understanding. Effective writing is a dying art; keep up the good work.
    Janet Sturgis

  15. Janet Sturgis on February 6th, 2015 1:38 pm

    Wayne, a system for making and selling low risk foods already exists. From what I gather, the movement wants NO oversight.

  16. Dana Lascu on February 6th, 2015 5:28 pm

    Karen, fair enough. If this advocacy effort doesn’t work out, I suggest a workable solution. I am a vetted expert with years of experience with this model and skills like you wouldn’t believe, continuously perfected until the mid 1980s. The solution is creating a viable, functional black market for healthy, wholesome home-made food. I’m your buyer!

  17. Karen Gay on February 7th, 2015 9:32 am

    As I stated in the above article, I advocate a two-tier system of regulations. One for corporate entities and another for the farm and home cook. In my opinion, there should be no regulation for the farm and home cook provided they sell to individuals and not resellers. Regarding raw milk, under this law, consumers would need to seek out the product at the farm. A label would be on the jar of milk stating that it had not been inspected. I don’t see the reason why people can’t do this especially considering that pasteurized milk is dangerous too. In May and June of last year fully inspected Marva Maid milk sickened many students in Henrico County and the milk was recalled.
    Link to health department site:

    As Wayne implied, the crux of the matter is where one would draw the line for regulation. The articles I’ve written are not news, rather they express my opinion. And I hope I’ve made it clear what my opinion is! Other people reading my articles might draw the line a little or a lot further back, even favoring inspection for foods prepared in home kitchens for currently exempted non-profit or church events. That is the pleasure of being able to express one’s opinions freely in an online paper and to have some debate about the matter.

    Stay tuned for Monday’s edition of the Wave. I’ve written an article about how it all turned out!

  18. Linda Sue Gardiner on February 8th, 2015 10:30 am

    I am no expert, just a mom, but the concept of a two tier approach sounds reasonable and thoughtful. If there could be a system where a small home-based operation could be inspected by a local authority for cleanliness and sanitation without the requirement for a more commercial infrastructure (the triple sinks and impermeable walls for example) then that would seem to be very appropriate.

    It would appear that the revitalization of the entrepreneur is the way our economy needs to go to get back on its feet. It makes more sense to give it sensible guidelines than to deny or dismiss it out of fear. Encouragement rather than frustration would be the hallmark of good leadership by our government in this endeavor. I’ll keep my prayers going and fingers crossed for this effort.

    …and some artisanal cheese and home-made frozen dinners sound delightful after one of those days of running flat out….

  19. Stuart L. Bell on February 25th, 2015 9:18 am

    I have been reading articles and comments on this site and others like it for the last eight years that I have been gone. I do not know what is happening, but it is not the Eastern Shore that I was raised on. It saddens me to read the attitudes and views that have and will make it unrecognizable. I hope you all understand what you have done and what you will do. But, you know the rest of this country is going in the same direction. It is sad. Funny how “Come-Heres” are being allowed to change things into something that they were trying to escape. The Good Times are Over for Good!

  20. Karen Gay on February 25th, 2015 2:53 pm

    Stuart Bell, you sound so sad about what has been lost. I am a very happy to be here “come-here” and would like to know more about your perspective. Does your unhappiness stem from the fact that there has been conflict in the discussion or is it related to a preference for one of the points of view discussed here? Could you tell us what has been lost so that perhaps we can try to recapture some of the magic of times past?

  21. Stuart L. Bell on February 28th, 2015 8:58 am

    Sorry Karen, it is apparent from the words you chose, that you have ingested far too much KoolAid for me to attempt to reason with. Trust me, driving through Cape Charles and Onancock is disturbing. The Shore and the Way of Life I knew are Gone.

  22. Karen Gay on February 28th, 2015 3:27 pm

    Stuart, you couldn’t force me to drink KoolAid, but I could be persuaded to enjoy a nice cold bottle of kombucha which will raise my spirits. You should try it!

  23. Janet Sturgis on February 28th, 2015 9:16 pm

    Stuart Bell, I may be a “come here” to some, but I like to think of myself as a “return here”. You see, my roots stretch back to the early 1700’s when a branch of my Mother’s seafaring family decided to sail further south from ESVA and become farmers.
    When I first moved to the Eastern Shore in 1980, one could literally lay in the middle of Rt. 13 in February and take a nap, as there was no car traffic. There was a traffic light at Cape Charles, one at T’s corner and one as you came off the bridge to Chincoteague. The engine and cars of the Eastern Shore Railroad would stop on the tracks in Melfa every morning in front of the Wayside, and the crew would cross the road and have breakfast. In the spring and summer, one could buy flats of freshly cut asparagus and strawberries, bushels of peas, etc. for reasonable prices, or go pick for yourself for even cheaper. Farmers allowed gleaning, when their harvesting was done. This was a good source of free nutritious food for the poor, and meant some extra income when sold on the side of the road. There were no fears of law suits, or permits required from the highway department for these activities. I attended the local church, even though not a Christian, because that was the center of Eastern Shore life and society. There was an independent grocery store or market in almost every town, where fresh local produce and seafood were sold, and the butcher would accommodate your every whim (even a standing crown rib roast).
    The Eastern Shore has turned into something I hardly recognize either, Mr. Bell.
    Gentrification and rising property values are making it almost impossible for “natives” to live here. The small independent markets gave way to chains, succumbing to what I call “across-the- bayitis”, as customers discovered you could spend twenty dollars and save fifty cents; anything sold by a native Eastern Shore merchant had to be inferior.
    People buy property next to a farm and complain about dirt blowing through their windows. They demand something be done about the horses next door, when the horses and their manure were there long before they were. They bemoan the fact that that they have to haul their own trash and recyclables to the collection center, instead of having curbside pickup. They wring their hands and fret over the water quality in the Chesapeake and the fate of the waterman, yet continue to throw fertilizers on their lawn and complain of the smells and noises associated with the fisheries industry on the creeks and bay. They complain about the ramshackle house on the road, or the trailer on the way to their waterfront home without thinking that is all the occupants can afford. All that feel good, highway adoption, clean the beach day, sustainable agriculture, food freedom, back to the earth crap cannot make up for the sense of belonging and the love of community that has been lost.

  24. Deborah Bender on March 1st, 2015 6:15 pm

    Well said Janet!

  25. Stuart L. Bell on March 1st, 2015 10:51 pm

    Thanks for helping to explain. You were never known to mince words. It would be fun to hear what John Eddie would have to say on this topic.

  26. Dana Lascu on March 2nd, 2015 1:46 am

    Yup, you’re right, things have changed. Say goodbye to the past — the community that was and the unspoiled landscape are never coming back. Luckily, slavery isn’t coming back either. But let’s not be dismissive of the great community we continue to have on the Shore. The entrepreneurial venture that Karen Gay is promoting is, in a way, an attempt to create community — different than the specific narratives of the past, yet it is no less compelling.