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October 6 2017

Wisconsin's Move Toward Food Freedom

by Julie Gunlock

The headline reads "Selling homemade baked goods now legal in Wisconsin, judge rules." What follows is a feel good story about the return of common sense and the restoration of food freedom for the people of Wisconsin. 

LaFayette County Judge Duane Jorgenson ruled Wednesday afternoon in favor of three women who'd challenged a state law they say made it impossible for home bakers to legally sell their treats. 

This is of course good news but the fact that for years, baking items in your own kitchen to sell on the open market was banned, should make everyone stand in awe at just how many freedoms this country has abandoned and how governments at all levels make it more difficult to simply make a living. 

Judge Jorgenson, who ruled in the case, seems to understand this. In his oral statement, he said that the ban on home baked goods "primarily serves business interests." He's correct. After all, when you can't get a cherry pie from your neighbor Jenny--who is the best baker in the neighborhood--you have to head to the local grocery store or the brick-and-mortar bakery, where you'll likely pay double the price. Of course this leaves Jenny doling out her famous cherry pie for free at church events and at her own barbeques and as her reputation as being a good baker grows, she’ll be unable to profit on that noteriety. But the professional bakers and big grocery stores sure do make a profit off her loss.

Sorry, Jenny (and all your potential customers), government knows best!

The real tragedy here is Jenny’s likely a stay-at-home mom who left her lucrative career track to raise her kids. Jenny simply wants to find a creative way to use her own talents to add to the family's income and so she thought she’d do what she enjoys—sell her baked goods to friends and neighbors and eventually perhaps provide area restaurants with her items. But because of this ban, she’s left with fewer choices, and no supplemental income.

I see this in my own community. Many of the moms in my neighborhood operate small businesses--offering exercise and nutrition advice, some offer babysitting services; still others sell products online, which allows them to work from home and still care for their kids.  Women love having these choices and the flexibility to carry on working without sacrificing time with their children.

Those who defend these sorts of silly bans often site food safety issues, which of course suggests Jenny represents some sort of danger. But that's nonsense. If we take that logic any further, we'll soon see a ban on potluck dinners, bake sales, heck, why not ban the dinner party! (One can almost see the nervous government bureaucrat wringing his hands at a neighborhood gathering and wondering if Mary washed her hands before making that potato salad and if Janice made sure there was no mold on those blueberries before adding them into the muffins…and oh, there’s Jenny with one of those cream pies—is it thoroughly cooked?).

The very idea that banana bread, blueberry muffins, brownies, cakes and other confections somehow became the jurisdiction of the government and a pet project of some eager politician with a hatred of gluten tells you that the government has gotten just a teeny bit too big. 

Wisconsin has taken a positive step in reducing it.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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