Let’s Talk Labeling In Cottage Food Businesses

Let’s Talk Labeling In Cottage Food Businesses

Let’s Talk Labeling In Cottage Food Businesses




Whether you are selling your famous oatmeal cookies or artisan sourdough bread, at some point, after the millionth question you’ve received about ingredients, calories, or volume, you’ll want a label whether it’s required or not. 

Laws in every state have been written to help companies referred to as; home-based kitchens, cottage food businesses, or homestead businesses to comply with food health and safety while allowing commercial operations in domestic locations. 

We’ll dive into the ins and outs and food labels and the reasons that this information is always good to have on hand, whether it is mandated by state law or not. 


In this guide to Cottage Food Business labeling, we’ll explore the following:


  • Who Requires Labels

  • Examples of Home-Based Food Production Labels
  • Why You Should Have a Label, Whether It Is Required Or Not
  • Resources To Help Create A Label
  • Each State’s Cottage Food Law For Labeling


Who Requires A Label 

Most states require some version of labeling for home-based food products. However, the actual contents can range from essential to complex depending on the stipulations of Cottage Food Laws in your state. 

Suppose you decide to partner with, for example, a local coffee shop to sell your baked goods, a farmer’s market, or a retail outlet. In that case, they may also have their own standards to ensure safety regulations are met and to minimize liability. 

Some states have exemptions for:


  • Hot, ready-to-eat foods
  • Simple Items with low nutritional value; coffee, tea, etc
  • Spices


In all cases, you should check our guide below for what each state’s Cottage Food Laws mandate. Below we indicate typical information asked to be included on home-based food labeling. 


Typical information found on food labels includes: 


(1) The name of the food product located on the primary panel.


(2) The name, city, and zip code of the Cottage Food Operation (CFO) that produced the food product. (A contact phone number or email address is optional but may be helpful for contact in case a consumer wishes to contact you.)


(3) You must indicate it was prepared in a home kitchen by one of these statements, depending on state regulation, in 12-point type on the principal display panel: 


“Made in a Home Kitchen”

“Repackaged in a Home Kitchen”

This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the Department of    State Health Services or a local health department.”


(4) The registration or permit number of the CFO who produced the cottage food product (if applicable).


(5) The ingredients of the cottage food product, in descending order of weight, if the product contains two or more ingredients.


(6) The net quantity (count, weight, or volume) of the food product, stated in both (pound) units and metric units (grams). 


(7) A declaration on the label in plain language if the food contains any of the major food allergens such as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. 


Regarding allergens, there are two approved methods prescribed by federal law for declaring the food sources of allergens in packaged foods: a) in a separate summary statement immediately following or adjacent to the ingredient list or b) within the ingredient list.



Examples Of Cottage Food Labels

If you’d like to know what it looks like to create a label for your products, many states provide mockups for what meets regulations. 

Here are just a few. 



Texas Cottage Food Laws provides a mockup of the type of label that will meet regulations.


Texas Cottage Food Labeling Specifications

Texas Cottage Food Labelling Specifications



South Carolina 

South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control released this example under their amended October 2022 Home Based Food Production Law Guide


South Carolina Cottage Food Label Specification

South Carolina Cottage Food Label Specification



Why You Should Have a Label On Hand No Matter What

You may be a part-time home-based food producer who only sells on the weekends at the farmer’s market or to friends and think, I don’t need labels! 

If no one requires you to have a label, why should you bother investing effort, time, and money out of pocket? There are a few benefits to having this information on hand that goes beyond meeting regulations. Even if you don’t put it on the physical product, keeping information on hand about nutritional values, ingredients, and sourcing can come in handy when you least expect it. Here are five solid reasons to make creating labels a priority. 


1. Streamline Questions From Customers

People will ask all the questions. What are the ingredients? Do you know the caloric content? Is it gluten-free? Does it meet an allergen requirement you may have never heard of?

Consumers have a right to know all of the above, and even if they are satisfied with your answer, you may not want to answer the question several times over. You also might not be available if you end up hiring staff to answer every question, and a label can help your staff point the customer in the right direction. 



2. Free Marketing

So you make the best BBQ sauce this side of the county? What better advertisement is there than a label on your product while it goes to a family get together or event? Never miss a free marketing opportunity by having your product do the talking when you aren’t around. Adding your social media and contact information is also a great way to get leads and gain momentum in your customer base. 



3.  Levels Your Business Up

Intuitively customers trust a brand that looks polished and professional. Your product  might be made in a home kitchen, but if you put effort into making it, you should communicate that passion in the packaging. When you make social posts, a sleek labeled product will help separate you from the pack. 



4. Shows You Are An Authority On Your Product

Adding nutrition, allergen, and health benefits information shows that you’ve put thought into your products. While you may not need all categories of information (check your state’s regulations in our guide below), adding it demonstrates that you know your product intimately and have done the research. 



5. Opens The Doors

Building on all of the above, a labeled product infers that you are ready for partnerships with retailers, events, and expansion. A polished label will open the door to opportunity in a way that an unlabeled and “green” looking product may not. 


Resources To Create Your Own Food Label

The good news is, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to put together your own labels. There are plenty of easy-to-use tools online that will help you put together the needed information, design, and print them with ease. 


Nutrient / Nutrition Labeling and Analysis

You don’t need a lab to do your ingredient analysis and create a professional-looking nutritional label. Each of these online generators has free options. All you need is a set recipe with defined measurements, and the generator will do the rest. You can save the nutritional information box generated and pop it into one of the design programs below. 

In addition, these platforms are a great way to experiment with recipes, especially if you have a health target like a “low calorie” product. Adjusting ingredients will help you envision where the recipe needs to go to achieve the goal. 





You don’t need to have knowledge in complicated design programs to throw together your first label. If you feel intimidated, reach out to design friends or try freelance sites like Upwork, Envato, or Fiverr to hire someone. Freelance designers can range in price depending on experience, but it’s not difficult to find an economical option. 

Here are several sites to design labels on your own. 





Forming a relationship with a local printer is always helpful for a number of reasons. You can work together in real-time on location to get your label locked in perfectly. In addition, there is also generally faster turnaround and lower minimum order quantities if you explain that you are a new business and want to grow with them. Plus, it’s always great to support a local business. 

However, this isn’t always an option. You could opt to print your labels at home. Conversely, as you scale your business, the pricing may be better with larger online companies, albeit less personal. Here are a few options for online printing services. 




Each State’s Cottage Food Law For Labeling

Below we have curated a list of resources for Cottage Food Laws in each state. When possible we listed the government link for the Cottage Food Law in that state. The regulations, labels requirements, and exemptions vary from state to state and are essential to understand before launching your food business. 





For more resources on Cottage Food Laws, check these comprehensive sites. 

Pick Your Own 

Cottage Food Laws

Forrager Cottage Food Community 




The Top Five Questions About Starting a Home Based Food Business

The Top Five Questions About Starting a Home Based Food Business

The Top Five Questions About Starting a Home Based Food Business


Home Based Food Businesses Can Thrive If You Know The Secrets To Succeed

Home Based Food Businesses Can Thrive If You Know The Secrets To Succeed


Suppose you’ve gotten countless compliments on your potluck specialty, been asked to make every kid’s birthday cake in the neighborhood, or everyone consistently votes to have dinner at your house. In that case, a home-based food business might be the vehicle to take your talent and passion to the next level.

While it is, by nature, a less start-up intensive business, a home-based or cottage food business still requires careful research and planning. While preparing your custom BBQ sauce for friends or catering an event on occasion can feel casual, running your food business out of your home involve the leveling up of your organization and operations. 

Once you get your foundation in place, a home-based food business has many advantages and benefits. Check out more at The Perks Of a Home-Based Food Business.

Researching the laws and operating standards surrounding cottage food businesses can be time-consuming. So we’ve rounded up the top five questions commonly asked about home-based food businesses below so you can get to the fun part faster. 


Do I need a business license or permit for a home-based food business?



Whether you need a business license for your cottage business depends on the requirements of your state. As you scale up, you’ll likely want one to formalize your operations. Most states require a business license or home-based business certificate, or both. 

Here are just two examples of the differing requirements in California and South Carolina.



In California, you must also obtain the licenses and permits required of all businesses, such as a local business license as well as a food handlers permit. 

You will need a permit from the county health department. A home-based food business can choose from two types of permits, depending on whether you want to sell products directly to customers or through other local businesses like shops or restaurants.

Class A permit. You can get a Class A permit in California if you want to sell only directly to customers within the state of California. For example, with a Class A permit, you can sell at farmers’ markets, festivals, from your home, or in other ways that allow individuals to purchase products directly from you. To get a Class A permit, you must complete a self-certification checklist, but there will be no physical inspection of your kitchen.

Class B permit. You need a Class B permit if you want to sell indirectly to customers – for example, through stores, restaurants, or other venues that will sell your products for you. In California, you may not sell indirectly outside of your own county unless the county where you want to sell has stated explicitly that they will allow indirect sales of cottage food products. To get a Class B permit, your kitchen must pass an annual physical inspection to get a Class B permit. (California Health and Safety Code § 113758 (2022).)

In addition, through the California Homemade Food Act, businesses ARE allowed to sell products online as long as they are picked up in person by the customer. Home-based food businesses ARE NOT allowed to ship food goods or cater. 

South Carolina

Compared to California, South Carolina has a more flexible scenario for foodpreneurs. This state’s regulations do NOT require inspections, permits, licensing, registration, or a food handlers permit. However, a business license is recommended for taxation purposes. 

Under South Carolina’s newly renovated 2022 Home Based Food Production Law, home-based food production operations can now sell items beyond shelf-stable baked goods and candy to include a wider variety or goods. 

No retail food establishment permit is required as long as all production stays in the home space. Home-based food businesses are restricted to selling only to the end customer. New reform to the cottage food laws has opened up sales to restaurants and retail spaces, as well as farmer’s markets, roadside stands, events, and from home. (South Carolina Code § 44-1-143)

Additionally, you ARE allowed to ship and sell foods online in South Carolina as well as offer delivery and wholesale.


Home Based Food Business


What information is needed to obtain a permit?



While this also differs from state to state and may or may not require an inspection, you will generally need to be prepared with these pieces of information. Even if not required, it is always better to be over-prepared for venue or retail-specific requirements. 


  • ingredients and full recipes for all of your products
  • a complete list of sources for your ingredients
  • labels for each product
  • source information for your packaging
  • a floor plan of your kitchen work space 
  • a list of your equipment, utensils, and food contact surfaces
  • a certificate showing you have completed a food handlers course 


Do I need insurance? 


Anyone turning their culinary passion into a profit-based model should ensure they are well protected against the risks associated with running a home food business. However, even though you are making food from your residence, this doesn’t mean that you are immune to the risks associated with working in the food industry.

Food Liability Insurance takes the prudent step to protect you from unforeseen accidents or events. Whether you run you are primarily selling at your local farmers’ market or sell your special recipe BBQ sauce out your back door, the cost of your food insurance policy is mainly driven by the size and scope of the food business you’re running. Food Liability Insurance typically costs between $300-$1300 annually, depending on differing variables from state to state. 


Labelling requirements for cottage food businesses have reasonable exemptions through the FDA.


What kind of labeling do I need?


Thanks to the Small Business Nutritional Labeling Exemption, the FDA exempts “low-volume” products from needing to use barcodes or nutritional contents. To be considered exempt a home-based food business must:


  • Not have more than 100 employees
  • Sell fewer than 100,000 units annually 
  • Have less than $50,000 in annual sales
  • File an exemption with the FDA annually


Online submissions for the exemption can be made here on an annual basis. 

Keep in mind that each food app, venue, or retailer might have its own qualifications for labeling with higher standards. 


Home Baked Goods Sold To Retail

Selling home baked goods to retailers is possible through Cottage Food Business Laws


What kinds of goods can I sell in my cottage food business?



Can you sell beef jerky, fermented foods, and hot food? The answer is a predictable one by now; it depends on the regulations of each state. Forrager has a great resource for all 50 states that cover the foods that are allowed, controlled, or strictly prohibited. Their directory also includes valuable information about where you can sell in each state, if and how you can deliver, and limitations for the cottage food industry. 

For example, Colorado will allow the sale of some “potentially hazardous” foods, like fermented sauerkraut, while South Carolina allows only baked and confectionary goods. Baked goods are the sweet spot of the cottage food industry with every state allowing for the sale of some type of sweets. 

However, while some states will allow the sale of artisan cookies, they may not allow banana bread due to moisture content and shelf stability. There are exceptions to these rules. Special permitting may satisfy separate home-based food laws. For example, in Ohio, you can apply for a special “Home Bakery License” that allows for potentially hazardous baked goods like cheesecake and dairy-based foods. Where there is a will, there is a way!

Here are several other resources to check your state’s cottage food allowances for different types of food.


Pick Your Own: Cottage Food Laws By State

Forrager: 2021 Cottage Food Laws

Farm To Consumer: Cottage Foods Map


Final Advice: Just Start

Starting at home is a great way to build a proof of concept for the big market with less financial risk and time investment. Not that the cottage food business is an easy street, however, there is just an ease of entry into the foodpreneur market that doesn’t exist in brick-and-mortar situations. 

Starting small will help build your audience and allow you to scale up organically as you find success. Check out our other articles in the Grow Your Food Business Series on where to start!




The History Of The Chili Queens & The Street Taco

The History Of The Chili Queens & The Street Taco

The History Of The Chili Queens & The Street Taco

And why the street taco just might unite humanity. 

Street Tacos


The street taco. Available in most major cities, the food blessing that meets just about everyone’s cravings, and a perfectly well-rounded and nutritious meal if done right. It’s time to throw some respect on the street taco’s name. 

Why do we love a street taco so much? Is it the various fillings with their spices that can transport you to a foreign land? The specialty sauce from your favorite food truck? Is it the humbling way that no one person can eat them without making a mess? There are too many reasons to count. 

We went on a search to find out how this food treasure ended up in the United States and also for proof that they might be the food that unites humanity.


The History of The American Street Taco

Let’s just state right here, although we can unequivocally say that the taco hails from our more well-spiced friends from the south, a street taco is not a Mexican taco and vice versa. The version of taco that has emigrated to the United States from the south has taken the vast array of regional flavors from South American cultures and made them a fusion of a hybrid of a melding of an authentic favorite. 

Taquero in Los Angeles

Taquero in Los Angeles

Tacos and Mexican Silver Mines

The modern Taqueros (professional taco makers) have benefited from those who paved the taco cart streets before them. The word “taco” actually came from the silver mines of Mexico dating back before the 19th century. Back then, “taco” meant “explosive” in reference to the small sticks of dynamite used to blow up the rocks in the mines. (Insert joke about street food and explosiveness here.) 

From the 19th century on, the only authentic tacos were found served from Mexican street cars. They are traditionally served with fresh warm corn tortillas, a family’s century-old salsa recipe, and various cuts of meat. Classic styles include “Barbacoa,” lamb meat, “Carnitas,” seasoned pork, “Al Pastor”, typically beef mixed with red peppers, and the uber classic, “Carne Asada,” which is thinly sliced grilled meat marinated in citrus juices. 

A notable side story here is the Mexican worship of corn, which still plays a significant part in Mexican food heritage. Way back in 3000BC, the indigenous cultures worshipped corn as the foundation of humanity, the seed of life. Their devotion to this miraculous crop ran so deep that there was a thought that humans themselves might be made out of corn. So is it wrong to love a crop that sustains life in the form of tacos? We think not. 


Chili Queens

Chili Queens Juanita (left) and Esperanza Garcia make tortillas in this photograph from 1937. ALL IMAGES: UTSA SPECIAL COLLECTIONS


The Street Taco Crosses The Border

Americans can agree to disagree on many things, but a love of tacos can unite the most fickle of foodies around the food truck. 

The taco made its way across the border around 1905 when Mexican migrants came to work on railroads and other laborious jobs. They brought with them the half-folded gold that is our modern-day street taco, as it was a versatile and highly portable lunch on the job. 

Even in the early 1900’s Los Angeles was ahead of the foodie trends. With the demand for immigrant labor came the market for the taco carts that would line the streets here. The women running them were famously called “The Chili Queens.” These were typically migrant women who took their generational food knowledge to the streets to make all our lunch breaks better. 

By the 1960s, street tacos became a staple on the food scene in every major city. Industrialization brought innovation to the taco game, with high-powered tortilla presses speeding up the process and making the tradition more widespread and accessible than ever. 

It was this period forward where the authentic taco evolved to American standards and commonly included lettuce, cheese, hard crunchy shells, and sour cream. That’s right; you’ll not find sour cream at a Taquero’s cart in Guadalajara. 

Americans have taken the traditional taco and evolved it to really be just anything that is wrapped in a tortilla which can sometimes include the melding of entirely different cultures. See the Jamaican Jerk Street Taco or the gluten-free Vegan Jackfruit Taco with Coleslaw as evidence of the looseness of the interpretation of what a street taco in the US is in modern times.

Either way, we’re sure the Chili Queens of LA would be proud. 

SAPi Taco Lingo


Street Taco Slang You Need To Know

Now that you have a newfound respect for the life and journey of the street taco, you should know how to order one from an authentic food cart respectfully. Here is some street taco lingo that you can throw around to gain immediate respect from your local Taquero. 



When the Taquero lines the tortilla with meat and cheese, gives it a flip, and returns it to you crisped and caramelized. 


A fried taco. 


A friendly nickname for a light-skinned customer. 


The master of the street tacos. 


Life itself, these are the roasted cambray onions. 


A style of authentic taco that is meat, cilantro, onion, and salsa. 


The opposite of the Mexicana style, with lettuce, cheese, and (gasp!) sour cream. 


This literally translates to “garden” and means with lettuce or herbs. 

SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina

SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina

SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks: Greenville, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina


SAPi is determined to find the best food truck experiences all over the United States. This week we are bringing you the top five best food trucks in Greenville, South Carolina.

Food trucks are no longer just for cheap hotdogs and fast eats. Instead, the evolution of the food truck over the past few years has brought us the culinary best of both local favorites and foreign delights.

Greenville offers fine dining on four wheels with this edition of SAPi’s Best of Food Trucks.

The Five Best Food Trucks of Greenville, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina

Thoroughfare Food Truck, South Carolina

1. Thoroughfare Food Truck

Specialty: Seasonal Street Eats

The Thoroughfare Food Truck boasts itself to be the longest-running food truck in upstate South Carolina. Open since 2013; they serve a rotating menu of simple dishes with big flavors. A rotating menu means they are committed to sourcing seasonally and locally when possible making their ever-changing always fresh. 

Must Try: Shrimp and Grits, Tots with Bacon Jam, and Butternut Squash Soup.

The Black Thai, South Carolina

The Black Thai, South Carolina

2. The Black Thai

Specialty: Fusion American Thai

The Black Thai blends traditional Thai cuisine with a modern American food truck flair. Established in 2018 by Greenville locals, this beloved food truck offers a fine dining fusion experience and regularly pops up at The Community Tap and Grateful Brew. Proving that they are more than just a food truck, their  Pad Thai Rice is as much raved about as their well-known hospitality.

Must Try: The Brussel Box tossed in Honey Ponzu Sauce, Black Thai Burger with an artisan mix of chuck beef and duck, Pad Thai Fried Rice

One Love Food Truck, South Carolina

One Love Food Truck, South Carolina

3. One Love Fusion Foods

Specialty: Fusion Southern Comfort

The One Love Fusion Foods truck is an award-winning kitchen on wheels boasting two first-place prizes in the US Foods Silver Spoon Challenge. They regularly pop up at the Greer Farmer’s Market, Cityscape Winery, and festivals around South Carolina. Their cult following has allowed them to grow in seven locations throughout the state with plates featuring BBQ, tacos, and salads. 

Must Try: Coconut Shrimp Spinach Salad, Kingston Nachos, and Unity Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Project Host Food Truck, South Carolina

Project Host Food Truck, South Carolina

4. Project Host

Specialty: Soups

Project Host’s “Hostmobie” is a food truck with a mission. Operating as a mobile soup kitchen on the pay-it-forward model, their social endeavor feeds the hungry and trains the unemployed. Paid meal services several nights per week provide a 1:1 free meal in areas of need in the community. They are also available for private catering. 

Must Try: Seasonal Soups 

We Got The Beets Food Truck, South Carolina

We Got The Beets Food Truck, South Carolina

5. We Got The Beets

Specialty: Plant-Based

We Got The Beets is Upstate South Carolina’s first ever all plant-based food truck. Their dishes are delicious and also happen to be dairy-free, cruelty-free, and bursting with boldly flavored sauces. Doing a service to all farm animals everywhere, they serve incredible vegan versions of classic street fare, including souped-up hotdogs and plant-based burgers. 

Must Try: Pineapple Upside Down Burger, Sushi Sandwich. Brown Sugar Peach Cheezecake


SAPi Food Hustlers: Jessica Callahan

SAPi Food Hustlers: Jessica Callahan

SAPi Food Hustlers: Breaking Bread with Fourth Circle Doula’s Jessica Callahan

Each installment of SAPi’s Food Hustlers will highlight locally minded people who are doing their part in the food business ecosystem. Whether they are running a Refugee Kitchen or scaling a food truck, we want to know what drives them!

In the first edition of Food Hustlers, we’ll highlight a woman who is a community food activist by passion and a food doula by profession.

Jessica Callahan was born in the rural countryside of Southwest Washington without an authentic dish of any nationality to be found within many miles. In fact, her most exotic self-served after school meal was rehydrated Top Ramen with slices of cheddar cheese thrown on top for good umami measure. 

Raised by a salt of the earth mother who surrounded their country house with a garden acre of produce, she knew fresh from the dirt ingredients when she saw them, but not necessarily how to wield them. 

Eventually, a move from the outskirts of the culinary desert of rural Washington and into the notoriously food-centric community-driven city of Portland, Oregon, led her on a self-paved path of food therapy. 

Encounters with naturopaths and urban foragers, and a heightened desire to feed her growing family better (in both the nourishment and health sense), led Callahan to become a food doula. 

Realizing that food had always impacted her emotional well-being, she began to wield food as a powerful tool of healing and support. From making witchy tinctures out of her urban Portland garden to sending baked cannabis confections out her back door to fellow moms in need more than 15 years ago, she has evolved into a sought-after Private Chef and Food Doula with her company Fourth Circle Doula.

Callahan has a created her own bespoke food ecosystem by forming a nexus of local farmers and community gardens and teaming up with other local changemakers to bring food equality to her current small town rural community in Toledo, Washington. Tasked with a mission to spread loving kindness by the plate, she is the food changemaker every community deserves. 

So how does a loose and wild backwoods urban forager turn into a refined food therapist? We meet her mid-strainer at her kitchen counter while extricating tiny tomato seeds from last year’s preserves to find out. 

Callahan’s Seasonal Grilled Peaches 

Callahan’s Seasonal Grilled Peaches

Thank you for making time for us during dinner prep! Can you tell SAPi about your food hustle with your company Fourth Circle Doula:

A food doula can do a lot of things, but what I do as a food doula is more along the lines of being a private chef but with a real nurturing and therapeutic component. I am essentially a private chef except with the primary goal of nourishing and caring for you beyond just preparing the food. 

Sometimes I prepare food in my client’s kitchen and sometimes in my own kitchen. Most of my clients prefer me to come into their homes because it has that extra freshness, and they are possibly able to learn in the process. 

What was your food hustle before food doula work?

I started out as a postpartum doula, working to care for families when a new baby (or babies!) arrived. This had a heavy food component where I was nurturing new moms and families through a big transition time, preparing nutritious meals, and taking the time burden off their shoulders so they could recover and enjoy their new family. 

I also had a cottage business many years ago making “herbal baked goods” that I felt were a real symbol of nurture and care. Actually, I still use herbs, just different ones! 

I would never have said I was a foodie growing up – I think I just knew what food did for my feelings! I wasn’t exposed to a lot of different foods growing up at all. Then I had a roommate in Portland who was a super foodie and introduced me to a whole new world. Then entering motherhood, I wanted to go beyond using food for just nutrients. 

A few nauseous pregnancies led me to learn how to do a good job on the few foods I could get in. That really kicked off a mission of food empowerment.  

A typical day of a Food Doula Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

A typical day of a Food Doula Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

What kind of people are in need of a food therapist like yourself?

I’ve been so lucky to have consistently had clients seek me out through word of mouth. Most of the time its people who have autoimmune issues, allergies, Chron’s, or Celiac disease, where eating out or preparing their own food is really hard for them. They have to prepare every one of their meals, so I help them to follow their diet while giving them a break. 

I have also had a lot of overworked parents who might have kids who are picky eaters who are over cooking one dish on repeat. I think what a food doula offers is support for food stress. For instance, reminders that mealtime isn’t just what they eat. It’s the sitting down, lighting a candle, saying what you’re grateful for, whatever it takes to create a nourishing experience, not just a meal. 

I also feel like it’s part of the privilege of having the client base I have. My service makes a lot of difference in these people’s lives and sometimes the people who need it most can’t afford it. I try to think about other ways to give back to the community using my skills by dropping off food to people down with COVID, helping out at local farms, and volunteering with the local food exchange. 

What does a typical day/week look like in the life of an acclaimed food doula?

Honestly, I don’t cook a lot during the day. I tend to cook later at night. Like all small businesses, I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the day doing admin tasks like menu planning, I try to stay fresh all the time. It’s a labor of love to chase ingredients from farms, co-op groups, and a community “grow to give” exchange. I also live on a cattle farm, so that’s easy to source from. 

This summer, Callahan helped to form the grassroots Toledo Neighbors program which saw residents from all different walks of life teaming up to revitalize the local food bank and create a local food exchange. 

 You are recognized as one of your community’s food changemakers- where is the system thriving in your community, and where does it still need fertilizer?

I think it’s fortunate living in a rural community where everyone with a yard is growing something, even if it’s just some tomatoes in the front. Luckily in the Northwest, we don’t deal with drought and growing our own food can ease the burden on the larger food system. 

People in this community really care about food access for everyone. It seems to be a great uniting force, and there seems to be no political divide. It really helps our humanity. 

For example, the Toledo Neighbors community group grows food specifically to give to anybody. With that group, the emphasis is that you don’t have to be low-income to come to get food; it’s for everybody. It’s a nice way to exchange and stay local and take the stigma out of donated food. No, you don’t have to be low-income, communities share food. 

What we need help with is finding an easy way to shift the other resources that make it difficult for people to utilize the free food resources. They have all these fresh fruits and veggies for dinner but don’t have the hours of cooking and cleaning up to invest. We need to make family work schedules more manageable so they aren’t pulling up to the fast food place out of survival. 

It shouldn’t be a burden when you get beautiful farm-fresh produce. We try in our community groups to get already prepared food out to people to ease the burden. People can’t just eat out of cans forever. 

What are your favorite food rituals for making your own meals, and do you have hard and fast kitchen rules for your family? 

I think because I love to cook always that I probably have a rhythm that involves starting with a clean kitchen and putting on my podcasts (any NPR or Marc Maron). 

We meet at the kitchen island, and my family eats while I’m still working. I’ll kind of eat and work on one side, and we’ll talk. I love that time. 

You lead both your professional and personal life with an onus of “Loving Kindness,” do you think kindness can be edible?

I think there is alchemy in the food that drives feelings and love. I think it’s vulnerable to want to care for people like that, to put all that into the food you make for people truly out of love. It’s not vulnerable to just boil everything that is grown and put some salt on it and say: “here are your calories”. 

I think cooking is the ultimate act of kindness. It doesn’t really take what I perceive to be too much work. It’s very natural, pure, full, and good. I feel like you can take whatever feelings you’re having, and you can go into the kitchen and come out with a love meal. 

I really love making people feel cared for and nurtured. Words are harder for me. I’m a real serious introvert. Food is my love language. 

What is the strangest/fun request that you have gotten as a food doula?

I did have one client who ate rice pilaf and zucchini noodle lasagna every single day for nine months. 

What’s a piece of advice you would give a future food doula?

My piece of advice is that loving-kindness is not just for your clients but for yourself. You need to maintain your boundaries. If I knew what was ahead in my career, I would do it all over again. 

Cheesy Grits with Slow Cooked Greens and smokes Chili Oil  Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

Cheesy Grits with Slow Cooked Greens and smokes Chili Oil  Photo Credit: Fourth Circle Doula

To finish our interview can we ask you some rapid fire foodie questions?


SAPi’s Rapid Fire Foodie Questions 

Whose food hustle do you respect?

The Black Forager, Alexis Nikole Nelson

The best food scene in the world?

It’s a tie between The Berlin Food Hall and Chungking Mansions food stalls in Hong Kong.

Best music to cook to?

Any dance music. 

Farthest you’ve traveled to get a special ingredient?

Nutmeg from Amsterdam and peppers from Guadalajara. 

Most prized kitchen tool?

A gift from my Auntie Ann, a  Le Creuset cast iron pan that is now 20 years old. 

Go to potluck dish?

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

What do you eat when you are too tired to cook?

Bananas and Cereal at least once a week. 

Cuisine that is missing in your local area that you would love to see?

Any real Asian cuisine. And really anything not of this continent. 

Best food you’ve never eaten?

Real French pastry.