The laws around food production are confusing, costly and “don’t reflect diversity in food.” Cottage food producer laws allow budding chefs to start making ferments for retail sales, “but only if they’re made a certain way.”
An article in Minnesota Public Radio highlights a major gap in food regulation: immigrants are left out. Though food laws cover fermented kimchi and kombucha, for example, they’re restrictive for less common fermented foods and beverages from different cultures. Vino Raj, owner Square Root of Curry in Minnesota, points out that if he tried to make a fermented product from his native country, he’d have to “fundamentally change” the product to follow the state’s rules, “rendering them inauthentic.”
“You don’t see lots of South Indian foods because of that law,” he said. “The laws have not caught up to other forms of cooking.”
The barriers for immigrants wanting to start a small food business are especially high. Procedures often aren’t translated into other languages, commercial kitchens are challenging to find and expensive to rent, insurance and licensing is costly.
Pictured, Dao See, owner of Minne Street Rolls, sells traditional Lahu food and is advocating for Minnesota to sell more diverse food.
Read more (Minnesota Public Radio)