The Lady Who Baked Cookies

This was first published over twenty five years ago. It’s a true story.

A View From the Porch

By John Dunklee

Once upon a time there was a nice lady who loved to bake bread and other “goodies”, not only dollars to supplant her Social Security Check, but just for the fun of seeing her friends and neighbors enjoy the results of her delicious creativity.

There were not too many customers, because the nice lady did her baking at home, and she did not have the equipment for mass-produced baked goods that was the best part of her operation, individual, tender loving care.

All was going well for the nice lady and her small group of appreciative clients until one day, as the nice lady returned from the grocery store with a bag of supplies for her baking pursuits, a car pulled up to her dwelling as she was unloading. The woman in the car asked if she was the lady who was baking and selling bread. “Yes,” replied the lady. “How many loaves would you like?”

You can’t sell baked goods any more,” the woman said, “You are breaking the law. I am from the health department.”

“What would you do if I continued my operation?” the nice lady inquired. “Put me in jail?”

“Oh no we would just embargo your goods.”

“What about all the women who sell tamales and tortillas from their cars, door to door?” the nice lady asked.

“We embargo their goods,” the official replied.

The nice lady then asked who had turned her in for her flagrant act, and the official said that it was confidential. The nice lady, then put her bag of supplies down on the porch of her dwelling and began to tell the younger woman official that it was sad that she would never live the old American way.

She explained that throughout her life, if she had needed some money, she had always figured out some way to earn it, instead of going to the government for it. “What a shame that you will never know the joy and satisfaction of that way of life,” the nice lady concluded.

I was disappointed to hear this story for several reasons. I had enjoyed the nice lady’s baked goods. It disturbed me that someone would “turn someone in” for such a thing. What kind of motive for this would anyone have in the first place? I was wondering if the official drove an official automobile forty miles to “carry out the letter of the law” protecting all humanity from the nice lady’s baked goods.

I have since been informed that the official had other business to see to that day. I am also concerned that “informant” gets confidentiality. I had always thought that one had the right to know who one’s accuser was. What happened to the American way of life that the nice lady once so happily experienced?

There are other ramifications. I am aware that the law of health pertains only if one is selling baked goods. How about bake sales, which have been popular for many years as a means to raise funds for a myriad of causes and reasons? Since the baked goods are sold, does this mean that all contributors to the sale are subject to embargo?

The answer is YES! All the bakers must have a permit, or bake in a kitchen with a permit!

PERMITS, PERMITS, PERMITS!! Maybe the “nineties” will spell the end of community potluck dinners as well.

I do believe that the health department serves a useful purpose in protection for the unwary, but don’t we have any choices left unless someone is licensed?

It is not only the stifling of the free enterprise efforts by the nice lady and her delicious baked goods which is alarming, but it is also the general stifling of the free enterprise system throughout the country by the vast conglomeration of government regulations that should concern everyone. There seems to be the necessity to buy a permit to do most anything. Is this to keep government employees busy, or is it a way to eliminate free enterprise so that the economic base of society becomes under the control of a few who can afford to buy or acquire the permits for monopolistic control?

Perhaps we have forgotten caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. If one does not want to by the baked goods one doesn’t have to buy the baked goods. But if one does want the baked goods one is free to indulge. If I remember American history correctly, there was a revolution once against a “mother country” which ended in victory for free enterprise!

When a person turns in a nice lady furnishing baked goods to small community, which ordinarily can’t support a bakery, that person should realize that by so doing they put their own freedom in jeopardy.

John Dunklee writes a column called “View From the Porch, ” in an Arizona paper, The Connection.