Texas Says 'Pickles' Only Come From Cucumbers. So This Couple's Farm Went Out of Business. - Reason.com

  
Via:  steve-ott  •  3 weeks ago  •  28 comments

By:   MarkLMcDaniel (Reason. com)

Texas Says 'Pickles' Only Come From Cucumbers. So This Couple's Farm Went Out of Business. - Reason.com
Anita and Jim McHaney are suing to overturn "preposterous" regulations on cottage food production.

Their main argument is that the regulations on cottage food production are unreasonable and stifle their economic opportunities.


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Anita and Jim McHaney are suing to overturn "preposterous" regulations on cottage food production.


Mark McDaniel| 10.2.2018 10:40 AM

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Texas Says 'Pickles' Only Come From Cucumbers. So This Couple's Farm Went Out of Business.


Anita and Jim McHaney are retirees who moved from Houston to the Texas countryside in 2013. Their plan was to live well and grow food on a 10-acre homestead, earning extra money selling produce at the local farmers market. They grew okra, carrots, kale, swiss chard, and beets. Lots and lots of beets.

"That soil out there is very sandy, and those beets just grew like mad," says Anita. "Now the obvious thing to do when you have more beets than you can sell, is to make pickled beets and can them."

And this is where the McHaney's ran into trouble.

Like most states, Texas has a so-called "cottage food law" that exempts certain items sold at farmers markets from the state's commercial food manufacturing regulations—foods like bread, produce, nuts, jams, popcorn, and, of course, pickles.

But what constitutes a "pickle," and who gets to decide? The McHaneys discovered that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) takes the narrow view.

According to the DSHS, "A pickle is a cucumber preserved in vinegar, brine, or similar solution, only pickled cucumbers are allowed under the cottage food law. All other pickled vegetables are prohibited"

"The legislature didn't say that, the health department did," Anita explains.

So in order to sell their pickled beets at the farmers market, the McHaneys needed a commercial food manufacturers license, to build a commercial kitchen, submit their recipes to a government contractor at Texas A&M University, and register for a $700 food manufacturing class. However, the class is only offered once a year.

"We got right down to signing up for the class…even though people said 'you won't learn a damn thing in there,'" says Anita. "Then I saw that $700. I thought, you know, this is crazy. This is insanity."

The McHaney's neighbor, Virginia Cox, also grows and sells food at the local farmers market. She'd like to be able to pickle her leftover okra.

"I can make a whole lot more on it pickled because if it doesn't sell this week, I can take it back to the market next week," says Cox. "If it's fresh and it doesn't sell this week, it's not gonna sell next week."

Today, the McHaney's farm lies fallow. But they have decided to take the state of Texas to court with the help of the Dallas law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath, who took on the case pro-bono.

Their main argument is that the regulations on cottage food production are unreasonable and stifle their economic opportunities.

"People can't afford that stuff, it shuts them out," says Anita.

As precedent, the McHaney's case invokes the landmark 2015 decision by Justice Don Willett striking down occupational licensing for Texas eyebrow threaders.

They're challenging the health department's definition of pickles and subsequent regulation on the grounds that it impinges on their "constitutionally protected right to earn an honest living."

The Texas Department of State Health Services wouldn't comment on the pending lawsuit, but defended the agency's rule as reflecting "the most common" interpretation of the word "pickle."

"It forces you, if you want to do a pickled beet, to go to a $700 class that has nothing to do with home canning," says Jim. "And now we've got hundreds and hundreds of occupations where you have to pay the government to do your job."

For now, the case is still pending, but the McHaney's are optimistic about its outcome.

" You know, we talk about pickling beets, but it's a lot, lot, bigger issue. It's about economic freedom," says Jim.

Video produced, shot, and edited by Mark McDaniel.

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Steve Ott
1  seeder  Steve Ott    3 weeks ago

Now, why am I posting an article from two years ago about pickles?

Well, <heavy sigh> I see so many posts about how democratic governors are destroying the economy with 'unnecessary' lockdowns just to defeat Trump. Well, you know what, Texas ain't got no democratic governor. No sirree. Not in this great state.

We allow you be to be wild and free,.........except when you can't be.

Every state, every community, has some pretty stupid laws and regulations. Whether led by a democrat or republican. And yes, I know, some people simply don't like pointing out that both sides do the same stupid stuff. But when they both do the same stupid stuff, its really difficult not to point that out.

 
 
 
Split Personality
1.1  Split Personality  replied to  Steve Ott @1    3 weeks ago

I can provide the name and address of a local farmer's market that sells pickled okra, pickled beets and quite a few pickled other things.

Maybe they are terrible pickle outlaws or maybe, just maybe, the "other" pickle producers have adhered to the letter of the law.

 
 
 
Steve Ott
1.1.1  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    3 weeks ago

Love me some pickled okra.

 
 
 
Split Personality
1.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  Steve Ott @1.1.1    3 weeks ago

Long story but the bride wanted something different for a shower that we hosted.

I was going for color for finger food.  I included pickled okra and pickled baby corn.

They loved the corn.

Guess who had to eat the okra, lol?

I thought wtf this is Texas, what Texan turns her nose up at Okra?

Guess who doesn't get to plan the party platters anymore ? jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Steve Ott
1.1.3  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Split Personality @1.1.2    3 weeks ago

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif LMFAO. I know what you mean.

 
 
 
SteevieGee
1.2  SteevieGee  replied to  Steve Ott @1    3 weeks ago

Texas has an obligation to protect small business like Vlasic and Heinz and, of course, good ol' Talk O' Texas crisp okra pickles.

 
 
 
squiggy
2  squiggy    3 weeks ago

"Every state, every community, has some pretty stupid laws and regulations."

Sure they do - as some legacy. None of that compares to what one autocrat is doing now.

 
 
 
Heartland American
2.1  Heartland American  replied to  squiggy @2    3 weeks ago

Sadly there’s more than one though all but a couple have a ‘D’ after their name. 

 
 
 
Steve Ott
2.1.1  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Heartland American @2.1    3 weeks ago

LOL. Yep. But what is to say the if one had an R after the name they would not respond in the same way? Now remember, I don't trust either party.

Now admittedly, Abbott did not order a lockdown until after several large cities had already done so. El Paso, where I currently reside, being one of them. It is also a given that Whitmers lockdown was somewhat stupid. I can't buy plants or seeds so I can grow food? It wasn't a well thought out plan.

But in my opinion, I'm not sure a lot of thought has gone into anything that has been done so far.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Get rid of these stupid and onerous regulations that do no one any good.

 
 
 
Split Personality
2.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  Steve Ott @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

We went to HD today for plants, the garden area was being used as the stores only exit.

The line for entering was over 200 people long at 2PM.

So we turned up to the closest Lowes and there was no parking. period. Never got close enough to see the front of the store.

Cut through the outer ring and went down to our farmer's market.  Got fresh veggies and a replacement 

flowering vine for the back post.

Most peeps in DFW ignored the lock down - almost everything was essential.

5th day in a row of increase of doubling new virus cases.

Strange days.

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
2.1.3  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.2    3 weeks ago
We went to HD today

So did my auntie.  I was on the phone with her when she saw the line.  I thought she was exaggerating.  Apparently, she wasn't.  She said there were employees blocking most of the traditional entrances, which had enormous 'ENTRANCE CLOSED' signs.  There was one way in, one way out.  The last thing I heard her say was, "*#!!*&!!! and !@!!(& and finished with @@#(^!!!!!!!!!!!!!".  She walked in the door empty-handed about 15 minutes later.

 
 
 
Split Personality
2.1.4  Split Personality  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

How're you feeling today gf???

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
2.1.5  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.4    3 weeks ago
How're you feeling today gf???

A zillion percent better.  Thanks for asking. 

I don't mind saying that this thing is nothing to fool around with, and I was incredibly stupid about it.  And PS:  Never try to bamboozle Perrie into believing things are great when they are not.  She's like Kreskin.     

 
 
 
Steve Ott
2.1.6  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Split Personality @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

It was the same here in El Paso yesterday. I'm just gonna order the screen doors and faucets on line.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
2.1.7  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

A friend and I went to HD last week.  We only had to wait for about 10 minutes in line before entering.  The check out line was much shorter due to fewer people in the store at a time.  All in all, it was very little inconvenience and the employees should be praised for the smooth running of it all.

 
 
 
Tacos!
3  Tacos!    3 weeks ago

Problem solved apparently.

Texas picklers get a victory from the Legislature

In a victory for home cooks across Texas, the Legislature has expanded the state’s definition of the word “pickle,” allowing for pickled beets, carrots and other produce to be easily sold at farmers’ markets alongside pickled cucumbers.
 
 
 
Steve Ott
3.1  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Tacos! @3    3 weeks ago

Indeed, but the regulation should never have been put in place in the first place. Unfortunately, it was a little late for this couple.

 
 
 
Ronin2
3.1.1  Ronin2  replied to  Steve Ott @3.1    3 weeks ago

Really? It was not the legislature that took the narrow definition it was the DSHS. I suppose they deserve absolutely no blame in this?

 
 
 
Steve Ott
3.1.2  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Ronin2 @3.1.1    3 weeks ago

The DSHS is part of the government is it not? And as such, does the buck not stop with the top executive? The right certainly seems to think so, except in the case of a certain president.

 
 
 
Split Personality
3.1.3  Split Personality  replied to  Ronin2 @3.1.1    3 weeks ago
It was not the legislature that took the narrow definition it was the DSHS.

because of new legislation in 2013.  jrSmiley_87_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
3.1.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ronin2 @3.1.1    3 weeks ago

The state agencies write the legislation, true, but they do so at the command of the governor/legislators. Then the state agencies must defend what they wrote in committee. Once it has been passed out of committee then the legislature votes on it. And the governor signs it or vetoes it. This is how it is done in Arkansas, anyway.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

What the hell does politics have to do with a bad law that was amended when faced with common sense?

 
 
 
Steve Ott
4.1  seeder  Steve Ott  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4    3 weeks ago

I really don't understand you question. Is not all law politics? Administrative or otherwise?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Steve Ott @4.1    3 weeks ago

No.  But maybe where you come from.  Laws should be passed to maintain a peaceful society and personal safety - no politics involved. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @4.1.1    3 weeks ago

I've been thinking more deeply about my reply.  I'm sure that in America there are many politically motivated laws.   Let's look at the one defining what a "pickle" is which in fact excludes any other vegetable such as a pepper, or tomato, etc. from being included and therefore not permitted to be sold without onerous (impossible for small farmers) to meet and still make any money for doing so.  So only the big corporate canners can afford to pickle a variety of vegetables.  Please don't try to tell me that such a law which obviously allows the big corporate farms and canning corporations to make money at it, those that donate politically, does not pander to those donors.  THAT is a politically motivated law.    The criminal law would be an example that should be a benefit to all people, but capital punishment is something that I believe panders to America's right wing, does it not?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
5  Trout Giggles    3 weeks ago

I am one of those people who don't believe that "pickles" are exclusively cukes. My mother pickled beets and green beans for years. I know people that love pickled okra. I've seen pickled cauliflower and peppers.

I'm glad this law got fixed

 
 
 
SteevieGee
5.1  SteevieGee  replied to  Trout Giggles @5    3 weeks ago

Don't forget pig's feet.  Yum.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
5.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  SteevieGee @5.1    3 weeks ago

jrSmiley_86_smiley_image.gif

 
 
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