The Boston City Council voted on March 31 to allow home cooks to make and sell food out of their own kitchens. The law will go into effect at the end of April, and will cover non-temperature controlled foods that don’t spoil easily — known as “cottage foods” — such as baked goods, dried pasta, granola, jams, jellies, tortillas, and more.
The new law comes in large part as a result of an advocacy campaign managed by Andree Entezari, a Boston University student working toward his master’s degree in city planning. After moving to Boston a few years ago, Entezari decided he wanted to start a cottage food business of his own. But as he explored his options, he was frustrated to discover that Boston didn’t have a process in place for him to start such a business.
“I couldn’t seem to get a clear answer from either the inspectional services division or zoning department on why these permits didn’t exist, or how I could apply for one,” said Entezari via email. “Directing my frustrations into advocacy, I did more research on the state’s cottage food law, and other towns permitting these operations. I met with others that were also frustrated with a lack of permitting, and began advocating to my city councilors.”
Entezari found an ally in Councilor Julia Mejia, who brought the issue in front of the council.
“I worked with her and her team to draft a permitting process and zoning amendment to Boston’s municipal and zoning code to make these permits a reality,” said Entezari.
Mejia, who sponsored the measure, told Radio Boston she believes that the new law will provide opportunities to aspiring cooks who don’t have access to capital, or to a commercial kitchen.
“The start-up costs for being able to operate a business can be cumbersome, especially if you don’t have the money to have a brick and mortar,” said Mejia. “So the idea is people are able to incubate right out of their own kitchens.”
In a Twitter thread, Mejia said that “this ordinance is for the small, minority, and immigrant entrepreneurs who want to share their food and their culture with their community.”