Going Legit, Part 1: With the Underground Market Shut Down, How Do You Start a Food Business?

Scene's from the SF Underground Market (RIP

After the Health Department shut down the ForageSF Underground Market last month, a victim of its own national-news-making success, SFoodie spoke to organizer Iso Rabins about the vendors who had debuted their jams, bibimbap bowls, and pies at his event. Many of them were baking in their home kitchens and testing out new ideas, with no barrier to entering the food business besides materials, labor, and a $50 entry fee. What would it take, we asked him, for your vendors to go legit?

SFoodie ended up asking a lot of people that question over the course of the next few weeks: S.F.'s environmental health division, directors of several organizations, and several Underground Market ex-vendors themselves. Some of these vendors are trying to go legit, but are mired in a morass of conflicting information. Others have already made it through and are operating aboveboard.

So over the course of this week, we're going to try and spell it out: Here's what the city, the state, and the country want you, o aspiring pickler or scone baker, to do if you want to start up a microbusiness. Hint: You're going to need to be committed, and you're going to need some seed money — not a lot, but a lot more than $50 and a free Twitter account.

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