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Taking Local To The Next Level

Susanne Lowen, TPSS Co-op Board Member

Increased rainfall and drought put stresses on our food supply that we will likely begin to see in the coming years. That’s where buying local becomes an imperative.

In the 2019 legislative session, Maryland legislators voted to support a more resilient food system in our state by expanding Maryland’s cottage food law.  Starting October 1, local cottage food products can be sold on grocery shelves.

Maryland is one of 49 states with cottage food laws — laws that strictly define conditions around sales of food products made in residential kitchens. Maryland’s law applies only to food defined as “non-potentially hazardous,” specifically baked goods, candies, jellies, jams and honey. Strict and specific packaging and labeling requirements are spelled out in the law, as are revenue limits and avenues for sales.

The 2019 amendment expands allowable sales of cottage foods to include retail grocery sales, which not only helps producers, it is also an important step forward in strengthening our local food economy.

As we urgently seek to address climate change concerns, creating greater resiliency in our food production and distribution system is paramount. We know that periods of heavy rain and drought create significant challenges for farmers and can result in reduced yield. 

Our direct relationships with farmers in our Potomac Valley watershed not only support their all-important work, it also means greater food security. For example, if a large grocery retailer has limited supply, they will have have to decide where to send their trucks and it might not be to our local Whole Foods or Costco, leaving our communities vulnerable to food shortages. Direct relationships with farmers and other producers of food also reduces the carbon footprint of our food products. 

Supporting best practices in farming enables us to be directly involved in protecting our watershed, from upstream farms and forests to the water that flows from our taps and to support practices that maximize carbon sequestration as an important component in the plan for drawdown. 

There is power in the way we eat.

TPSS Co-op is continually seeking ways to expand offerings of local products, so check the labels and support your local producers, and watch for local cottage food products on grocery shelves beginning October 1! It’s the best way to strengthen our regional foodshed and watershed.