Have you visited a local farmers market this year?

Have you visited a local farmers market this year? 

You can find fresh fruits and vegetables produced by Okaloosa farmers. There is nothing quite like freshly picked produce!

But you may have also noticed some other types of foods available. 

The 2011 Cottage Food Law allows vendors to sell food items produced in an unlicensed home kitchen. This law encourages entrepreneurship, supports local farmers markets and can help develop local food systems. 

Did you know there are some foods that are not permitted? 

Be a smart consumer and learn what should be for sale and what is not allowed due to food safety concerns.

Cottage foods to purchase:

•Breads, cakes, cookies and candies

•Honey, jams and jellies

•Dry herbs, trail mixes, nuts, vinegars and fruit pies

All of these items must have a label that follows Cottage Food Law requirements.

Some foods specifically may not be sold at farmers markets because they are potentially hazardous. 

If you see these items for sale, pass on them. Of course, local farmers and cottage food entrepreneurs know the rules, so chances are you won’t even see these. However, it helps to know what to avoid.

Cottage foods to avoid:

•Fresh or dried meat or meat products, including jerky

•Canned fruits

•Canned vegetables

•Canned pickled products such as corn relish, pickles and sauerkraut

•Vegetable butters and salsas

•Fish or shellfish products

•Raw seed sprouts

•Bakery goods that require refrigeration, including cream, custard or meringue pies and cakes or breads with cream cheese icings or fillings

•Milk and dairy products, including hard, soft and cottage cheeses and yogurt           

•Cut fresh fruits and/or vegetables, or their juices.

•Ice and/or ice products

•Barbecue sauces, ketchups and/or mustards

•Focaccia-style breads with vegetables and/or cheeses

Visit your local farmers market and support our local farmers and their wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Try some of the great cottage foods that are for sale!  The strawberry jam, fresh honey and other items will be delicious.

Just avoid the foods that are not allowed, which hopefully you won’t even see!

Elaine Courtney is a Family & Consumer Sciences Extension agent at the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview.