OK 2016, KNOCK IT OFF!!!

So I’m going to go off topic this week.  Yesterday Prince died.  For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am basically a child of the 80’s.  I was born in 71 to young parents so there was some pretty great music and entertainment around me as a small child but it wasn’t until the 80’s that I really discovered music, books, and movies.  These were my formative years and while some may say that the 80’s sucked as far as music is concerned and, don’t get me wrong, there was a whole lot of crap that came out in that decade but it also brought us some monster innovators in the industry.  I remember getting my first Prince cassette, ask your parents about them if you don’t know, for my thirteenth birthday.  It was Purple Rain and it was awesome.  I listened to that thing over and over again.  My thirteen-year old brain enjoying the way the music made me feel even if I didn’t really comprehend the genius that was Prince.

It wasn’t until I was in high school, taking all of the music classes I could, that I started to really appreciate what true musical genius is. It was here that I was fortunate to have inspirational music teachers that really wanted us to know about music and the art that it is and not just how to hit the proper notes with the correct finger positions.  Maybe it was because they were just out of college themselves and still enthusiastic but they wanted us to learn as much about the inspiration of music as they did the mechanics of it.  We learned about jazz, soul, and R&B, alongside the classical and traditional.  We listened to Tower Of Power, Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson, Earth Wind and Fire, The Beatles, and so much more.

Sorry, I’m reminiscing a bit.  Anyway, the main point of my ranting this week is that 2016 really just needs to quit taking away my childhood heroes.  David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Fry, Sir George Martin, Garry Shandling, Maurice White, and Abe Vigoda.  Seriously, Abe was in a ton of stuff that I loved.  These were all people I looked up to as a kid. I wanted to be an entertainer and even if I wasn’t able to live out the dream of performing for a living, I have been lucky enough to perform for fun in some pretty cool places and a lot of that has to do with the people who inspired me during those formative years.

If I had my way, I would make a giant hermetically sealed compound and move Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, Sir Elton John, Cindy Lauper, Sir Patrick Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Sir Ian McKellan, Christopher Moore, Eric Clapton, and probably a few more that I’m just forgetting right now, into it so that they can be safe and healthy until 2017.  We can live without these folks doing what they do for seven months, can’t we?  It’s been a rough four months for the entertainment world and I, and I’m sure a lot of other folks, am done with our bigger than life stars leaving us.  We need them to keep entertaining us and inspiring us.  So knock it off 2016.

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COTTAGE PRODUCTS

Hello there readers.  Today I’m going to tackle another controversial issue with regards to the markets.  Cottage Products have become an issue in Nevada over the last couple of years.  First I guess I should tell you what a Cottage Product is.  Cottage Products are food items that have been created in someone’s home instead of in a commercial kitchen.  Most often these types of products are sauces, salsas, baked goods, and candies but it can be any food that has been prepared “at home”.  Up until a couple of years ago, the State said that you could not sell food items to the public that you had made in your home unless you had a separate/secondary kitchen that was inspected by the local Health Department.  Then, someone in the government had the bright idea to pass a “Cottage Food” law which said that you didn’t need that secondary kitchen or an inspection and that anyone who made a product in their home “CAN” sell to the public online, at events, farmers’ markets, fairs, flea markets, etc.  Unfortunately, some folks think that this means they are entitled to sell their products in these venues but what the law says is that you “MAY” sell your products not that we “HAVE” to allow you to.  It’s a big difference.

As a private company that is organizing markets, our main concern is that you, the buying public, are purchasing quality products that are safe for you and your family.  Now some organizers are allowing Cottage Products into their events and, if they want to take the gamble, I say go for it.  However, there are risks involved that we just don’t feel are worth taking by allowing Cottage Products into our markets.  All it takes is one person to get sick from something they purchased at one of our markets to create a publicity nightmare.  In this day and age, with social media the way it is, it wouldn’t take long for the word to spread like wildfire that someone got sick from something they ate from one of our vendors.  Add to it the possible litigation and the increased insurance costs of allowing those products into the market and we decided that it just wasn’t worth the risk or the cost.

We recognize that most of the people who make these products at home probably have clean houses and make delicious goodies but the problem is that the kitchens where they prepare their products are not inspected and the people making the products might not know what safe food practices are.  All it takes is the one vendor selling an item that makes someone sick because it was not prepared properly to ruin things for everyone.  How would you like to purchase and use a BBQ sauce and then find out that it was actually made in the bathtub of the person you bought it from.  True story by the way.  I mean, really think about it.  Are you or someone in your family allergic to animals?  Would it bother you to know that the food you’ve just paid good money for and are planning on feeding your family came from a household that has a bunch of cats that run around the kitchen and climb on the counter tops or that there are dogs that run and shed all over the house?  Have you ever been to a friends’ house and maybe they changed their babies diaper in or near the kitchen or dining room?  Have you seen their kids running around and grabbing things out of the fridge or touching things in the kitchen with dirty hands?  These are things we have to take into account.

I know that I am a pretty good cook and have made a whole lot of things in my kitchen that I have given to family and friends and I’m absolutely certain that there are a lot of others out there creating amazing things in their homes that people love.  One of the differences though is that I am actually Food Safe Certified.  I took a course that taught me the right ways and the wrong ways to prepare food for others to consume.  This also means that I have been taught how to make certain a kitchen is clean enough for an inspection but, that being said, I still would not expect to sell products made in my kitchen at home.  If I was going to sell food items, I would make certain I prepared them in a kitchen with a current health inspection.  Giving out cookies and pies at the holidays to friends and family is a whole different ballgame than opening a business and expecting someone to pay for those items.  It’s the same difference between amateurs and professionals.  One is a hobby and the other is a profession.  Now I know that people do get sick sometimes even when the food is prepared in a restaurant or commercial kitchen.  It happens.  But the fact of the matter is that in a commercial kitchen, the risk is minimized.   Those kitchens are not as exposed to outside elements as your kitchen at home and you, for sure, wont see a cat, bird, ferret, puppy, or kid walking or crawling around on the counters.

We know that a lot of the Cottage folks are just trying to start out and may not have access to a commercial kitchen and we sympathize but ultimately our main concern is that you, our customers, are purchasing the safest products available.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter so feel free to comment.