GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Soirée-Leone is a fermentation expert. Her background is in pharmaceuticals, but when she began fermenting decades ago, she just couldn’t stop.
“It’s been about 30 years. I started fermenting foods with cheesemaking,” Soirée said. “Cheesemaking was my gateway to fermentation and that continues to be my passion.”
For years though, she technically hasn’t been able to sell her product legally. On July 1st, that changed when the Tennessee Food Freedom Act went into effect, essentially allowing people to sell non-perishable food items without a license.
It opened the door for people–like Soirée–to sell more home-cooked food in places like farmers’ markets or local grocery stores.
“I think that’s wonderful because it’s an opportunity to have food-centric businesses that support our regional foodshed,” she said. “A lot of these businesses, they’re working with the farmer right down the road.”
In fact, Soirée gets much of her produce and her products for fermentation just down the street at Flower and Bee Farm in Cornersville.
“It means a great deal to be part of Soiree’s community, and it makes us feel really good that what we do winds up on people’s plates,” Debra McManus.
McManus runs the farm with her husband. The Food Freedom Act directly impacts local farms, too, by allowing farmers to have more access to markets, promoting local purchases as opposed to imports.
“The Food Freedom Act really does promote the local food economy in ways we don’t even understand all the implications yet,” McManus said.
“How can we create food products right here in Giles County or in other smaller counties that are foods that are desirable to the folks who ordinarily would leave, take their money out of the county?” Soirée said. “How can we keep that money in the county?”
This new law is the first step in helping that.