Food fight brews over home-baked goods

6:57 PM, Nov 19, 2013   |    comments
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FARMINGTON, Minn. - Since she was a little girl, Jane Astramecki dreamed of owning a bakery, but severe rheumatoid arthritis kept her from opening her own shop.

The arthritis; however, did not stop her from baking at home with her mother.

"To me this is not working. This is fun," she said.

Astramecki sells her homemade products at farmers markets around Eagan and Farmington. Her baked goods are a hit.

"I have other store owners in Farmington who have asked to sell my products in their stores, which of course I have to say, 'No,'" Astramecki said.

She has to say no because she doesn't have a food handling license. Under state law, unlicensed vendors like her, can sell food but only $5,000 worth of products a year and only at community events and farmers markets.

Astramecki believes that law prohibits her business from growing. With guidance from the Institute of Justice, she is suing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

"These restrictions are not just arbitrary, they're unconstitutional," said Katelynn McBride, the lead attorney on the case.

McBride and Astramecki argue since her food is safe enough for farmers markets it is safe enough to be sold as much as she wants and anywhere she wants.

"I definitely let them know that it's homemade ... then that should be their choice, not the state's choice," Astramecki said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said they cannot comment on pending litigation.

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