Thanks to Joel Salatin--I hope he doesn't mind me swiping his title. Please read his book (same title)--it'll really open your eyes.
I want to expand my chicken flock and sell those lovely fresh eggs. According to the State Health Department, if I have 50 or less chickens and sell to individuals, I don't need a license. But I want to add value. I'm perfecting my recipe for smoked eggs (yes, in compliance with State rules as to cooling and storage, even though it radically changes my method) and I have an awesome recipe for pickled eggs.
Sounds like a perfect opportunity to sell to local restaurants, right? Local eggs from local chickens for local people. But oh no. The government can't handle a small farmer trying to make a little money on the side. In order for me to market my smoked eggs to restaurants, first I have to have a licensed coop. I can just see the looks on their faces as I describe my deep litter system. No matter that it doesn't stink and that my eggs don't get soiled 99% of the time. No matter that I have happy cluckers who are thriving in a mostly open front coop and open run, even in winter.
Then there's the kitchen part. I've gotta boil those eggs somewhere, right? Apparently, even if I don't breach the shell, it's NOT OK to boil them on my kitchen stove. I need a licensed kitchen apart from my family kitchen. Folks, I'm not going to kid you. To be in compliance with every state regulation, a kitchen to boil my eggs in would cost over $20K plus building permits. Lord only knows why I need a 3 compartment sink just to boil eggs. Or a walk in refrigerator, let alone a desk for the beaurocrats that think I need all this junk to file paperwork at.
Then there's the smoking part. It takes between 6-8 hours--time in which I can do any number of things that need to be done out here. But oh, no. Even if I have the eggs boiled in an approved kitchen (an inspected restaurant, etc), I can't bring them home to smoke them. Mind you, they're still in the shell and after smoking have been elevated over 160 degrees--the temperature that kills Salmonella--TWICE. I could bring a portable smoker to each restaurant and waste a whole day sitting around tending it. But apparently that's still not safe. To top that off, I'd have to get a separate health license at every restaurant I smoked eggs at.
Ditto the pickled eggs--of course, they've only been elevated to over 160 once, but they're immediately placed in a vinegar brine after cooling and peeling. Isn't brine a preservative? You'd think so. But there again, I need a state licensed kitchen to combine the rest of the ingredients just so everyone's sure it's safe. $20K to make maybe a few hundred dollars a year from value added eggs AND add to the local food movement and economy. Think about that for a minute.
Isn't it funny that I can sell these eggs to individuals but not restaurants? Who goes to restaurants? Last I checked, it was individuals.
Then there's the broiler idea. I want to pasture-raise chickens for healthier meat and environmental benefits. Slaughtering them at home like my grandparents did (and geez, they managed to survive to produce offspring that produced me) is another no-no if I plan to sell them. Again, they want a high dollar processing facility, not just a few tables and a hose. It doesn't matter if my customers would be willing to accept the risk. They've got to have their fingers in MY chicken pot pie.
Sure, everybody wants to take credit for creating jobs, but they're making it impossible for people to create their own jobs. They've gotten so used to dealing with big companies that they've forgotten that everyone had to start out small. They've gotten so paranoid about "factory chickens" (and for good reason--those chickens and eggs are filthy!) that those of us who have normal chickens that lay cleaner, healthier eggs have to suffer.
Oh please, Big Government, save us from ourselves! Save us from the filthy poultry and eggs that you deem acceptable. Please, oh PLEASE don't give anyone an opportunity to start a small business that's actually "greener" than what you give bailouts to. Bend us over and make us a USDA inspected Wal-Mart nation! When we can't do what's right or help our neighbors or stimulate our local businesses, Big Government has won, no matter who spouts what rhetoric.
Folks, whenever you can, buy private, buy local. Farmer's Markets are a great start, and a good place to make contacts. Get active in your state's food legislation and help them realize that smaller scale is actually healthier for all of us. I won't even get started on raw milk tonight. The government thinks it can tell us what we can eat (since we apparently don't know our arses from our elbows)--let's show them otherwise.