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If you’re like most homesteaders, you’re always on the lookout for creative ways to make money from your homestead. Do love to be in the kitchen? Do your friends and family rave about your baking skills? If so, starting a cottage food business just might be for you!

From preserves to cupcakes and spice rubs to homemade pies, the cottage food industry is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country. In many states, you can sell certain types of homemade goods with very minimal licensing. The laws do vary by state, however, and many states will require you to have an inspection of your kitchen, while a few others may even require a separate commercial kitchen.

Step One: Research Cottage Food Laws in Your State

Since cottage food laws can vary significantly by state, and sometimes even county, the first thing you need to do is research cottage food laws in your state. In most states, you will be able to sell your non-refrigerated homemade goods to individuals, but not businesses. As mentioned above, an inspection of your kitchen will probably be required, as well as a business license.

Most states will have a no pets in the kitchen during preparing and processing rule; some will have labeling requirements, as well. Some states will have a limit on the amount of foods you can sell each year, too, usually somewhere between $5,000 to $45,000. Contact your state’s Department of Agriculture to begin researching the cottage food laws in your state.

Step Two: Apply for Your License and Schedule Your Kitchen Inspection

Nothing ever moves fast with government agencies, so you’ll want to get the ball rolling by applying for your license and scheduling the inspection of your kitchen if required. Make sure you are complying with all regulations so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Step Three: Decide What You’re Going to Sell

While you’re waiting on all the red tape, you can decide what you’re going to sell and fine tune your recipes. The food items you are allowed to sell will vary by state, but generally, cottage food operators can sell baked goods that don’t require refrigeration, jams and jellies, dry cake and cookie mixes, nuts, dry cereals, granola, dry herb, and spice mixes, popcorn, and certain candies. You may be able to sell pickles and other preserves, as well. Perishable foods that require refrigeration will be forbidden pretty much across the board.

Step Four: Create Your Labeling and Packaging

Next, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to package each product. Cute packaging can go a long way toward attracting attention for your product, so spend some time on this step. When creating your product labels, be sure to follow your state’s guidelines. Many states will require you to inform customers that foods were created in a Cottage Food Operation where inspections are not required. Others require detailed nutrition labeling as well as the address where the food was produced. Be sure to include a full ingredient list and highlight potential allergens, even if it’s not required by your state.

Step Five: Decide Where You’re Going to Sell Your Products

In most states, Cottage Foods can be sold only to individuals, never to businesses for resale. That still gives you plenty of excellent opportunities though. Farmers’ markets would be the obvious first choice, but you could also take orders by phone and hand deliver your products or have your customers pick them up. You may be able to sell your products at your roadside farm stand, too. Bake sales and charity events offer more possibilities. In some states, you can even take orders online and then deliver your products whatever way works best for you and your customers.

Tips to Help You Get Started

Here are some additional tips to help you get off to a great start.

  • Be professional right from day one. Once you start charging for your creations, it’s no longer just a hobby, it’s a business. It’s important to treat it like one right from the start.
  • Consider your pricing carefully. This is usually the hardest part for new entrepreneurs. Know the worth of your products and don’t be afraid to charge accordingly. Consider the value of your time in addition to the cost of utilities and ingredients. Pricing will vary depending on the market in your area, too. For example, you will be able to charge more for your product in larger cities than you can in small towns or rural areas.
  • Whenever you’re at a market, offer samples of your product and ask for feedback. You should always be willing to tweak your recipes if needed.
  • Grow it yourself! If you’re growing a garden anyway, why not grow extra berries and cucumbers that can be made into jams, jellies, and pickles to sell at the market alongside your fresh produce?
  • Take advantage of the social media craze. Set up a Facebook page and show pictures of your yummy creations, your cooking process, or even your homestead. Be sure to make announcements about which markets you’ll be at and what products you’ll have available. Ask friends and family to share your posts. Share your posts in local groups, too. Get the word out however you can!
  • Holidays provide a prime opportunity for selling home baked goods! Consider offering special occasion items and baskets around the holidays for folks that don’t have time to bake their own. You could do a la carte or consider selling holiday baskets that include homemade rolls, cookies, and pies, so your customers don’t have to worry about baking around the holidays at all.
  • Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. You will find that many customers will purchase your product over something from the grocery store simply because they like you and your mission. Spend time chatting with your clients. Include your photo on your labels and website. Tell your story. That’s what people love most about purchasing from a small business!

There’s really no limit to what you can do if you want to put the time in. You could just sell some of your home canned jellies alongside your produce each week, or you could offer freshly baked breads, pies, and more at your weekly market. Many cottage food producers have gone on to become caterers, bakery owners, and even restaurant owners. It’s all up to you!

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Menopause: How to Deal With Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Hot flashes and night sweats are common during the menopause, with symptoms ranging from a mild feeling of warmth in specific areas, such as the face, chest or back, to an overwhelming heat that passes through the entire body. While some women notice only mild discomfort, others experience distressing symptoms that can disrupt their daily life. If hot flashes and night sweats are affecting your quality of life, there are ways to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

Identify Your Triggers

Hot flashes are often triggered by certain foods and environmental factors, although these triggers vary greatly from one woman to the next. The best way to discover your triggers is to keep a diary of symptoms and possible causes. Common triggers include spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoke, hot weather and stuffy rooms. You can also look for other patterns, such as the time of day or specific places where your symptoms are more likely to occur.

Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress and anxiety are common triggers for hot flashes and night sweats. Many women notice an increase in anxiety levels during the menopause, which can make night sweats more likely. While it’s not always possible to remove the causes of stress, you can reduce its impact on your body by learning to relax. Relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing and guided visualizations can be useful for relieving stress.

Adjust Your Sleeping Environment

Night sweats can be caused or exacerbated by your sleeping environment. Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and try to keep it as cool as possible. Use cotton sheets and bed linen, as well as loose cotton clothing, as this allows your skin to breathe and helps to prevent overheating. If face flushing and sweating is a problem during the night, you can buy special pillows filled with cooling materials. Keep a bottle of cold water by your bed, as hydration is particularly important for keeping cool and preventing headaches during the menopause. Gels packs, ice packs and fans can also be useful for some people.

Take Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is important for managing many symptoms associated with the menopause, including hot flashes, insomnia and weight gain. Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming or yoga, is often best, as you can give your body a workout and reduce your stress levels without working up too much of a sweat. Wear loose clothing made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton, and remember to drink plenty of fluids while exercising.

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements help to relieve hot flashes and night sweats for many women, but it can take time and experimentation to find the right supplement. Soy, evening primrose oil, B vitamins and black cohosh are popular supplements for improving health during the menopause. Most health food stores also stock supplements designed specifically for the menopause, which often include a variety of vitamins, minerals and other compounds. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking supplements, as they can interact with some medications and should not be used if you have certain medical conditions.

Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms of the menopause, but they can often be relieved by taking a few self-help measures. If hot flashes persist or are severe enough to disrupt your life, see your doctor, as they may be able to prescribe medication to help ease your symptoms.

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