Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rising Beef Prices

I was asked to comment for a proposed ThompsonReuters article about rising beef prices related to bbq grilling season. I think I missed the deadline for the article, but it made me think about a few things....

I view grilling and bbq cooking as a hobby. I think most people who grill on a regular basis view it similarly. Most people do not grill on a daily basis. Most of my friends grill a steak, a pork chop, or a hamburger for special occasions and for weekend celebrations. Meat prices may have increased significantly, but grilling remains a relatively low volume activity and not a daily requirement.

If gasoline doubles in price, then lifestyles must change dramatically for most of us because we need gasoline to get to work to earn a living. We buy a more fuel efficient car, or change our vacation plans to stay closer to home. We can't realistically stop using gasoline. If you spend $100 a week for gasoline and the price doubles, you are then spending $200 a week for gasoline.

If a $10 steak doubles to $20 it's not quite the same thing because buying a nice steak is not a daily expense. It's a hobby or luxury. We can still justify the expense of steak for grilling because we owe ourselves a treat once in a while. But I'd agree that some folks who don't take grilling as seriously as I do might substitute steak with hamburger occasionally to help offset the increase in prices. Some folks might substitute beef or pork for chicken, but don't include me in that group. My father-in-law is a cattle rancher.  What kind of son-in-law would I be if I stopped buying beef? [:-)
And here's another side of the story....The frequency of grilling might actually increase as people choose to cook something at home rather than spending money eating out in a restaurant.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Slow's BarBQ Detroit

My co-workers took me to Slow's BarBQ on Michigan Avenue in Detroit for a birthday lunch earlier this week. I had the brisket entree with black beans and potato salad.  For a bbq restaurant, the brisket was very good. I really enjoyed my lunch.

It was my third trip to Slow's and the second time I actually got to eat bbq while I was there. That's the trouble with hip and happenin' restaurant's sometimes - they are so busy you have to wait 3 hours to eat at them. That experience is a long story that I won't go into here, but if you decide to make a trip to Slow's I encourage you get there early, or plan on the possibility that you may be waiting a while.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Cottage Food Law

I wanted to share some research I've been doing regarding the cottage food laws that provide some possibilities to prepare certains types of food products from a homebased kitchen. Not all states offer this possibility, but certain states do. Here's a list. Farmer's Market Coalition has a nice article that offers sources for further research as well.

It's important to understand that all states are different and what's allowed in Illinois might not be allowed in Florida, for example. While jams and jellies are allowed in many states, canning pickles from home is rarely allowed. As with any regulation, they are subject to change. If you decide to pursue this, it's important to stay current with changes to the rules that affect homebased operators. This might be a viable avenue for homebased production of bbq spice rubs and seasonings as long as labeling requirements are followed carefully.

As with any other business endeavor there are certain rules and regulations that govern the industry. These rules and regulations are set by the individuals states and cover the types of items that can be sold, where vendors can sell, how products must be packaged and labeled and much more. There are currently 31 states that allow citizens to bake from home for profit in some form.
Most of the states have a cap on how much revenue you can earn from a homebased food business. In my state, Michigan, it's $15,000. In other states it's $25,000, or somewhere in between.

Many local Michigan micropreneurs have used the cottage food law to launch their business with low costs and then once established transitioned to a larger commercial operation once the $15,000 cap is reached. Here's an article about a cupcake baker.

The farmer's market near my home is packed with small farmers and urban gardeners taking advantage of these new regulations to launch their own small businesses. Here's a link to the specific rules in Michigan.

I applaud the states who have crafted regulations to losen the reins on some of the food safety regulations. I've read many other accounts online where the unemployed and under-employed have launched small businesses to help them overcome their current financial struggles.