West Virginia has one of the most extensive cottage industry laws in the country. Simply put, it allows home-cooked food to be exactly that, home-cooked food that can be provided to customers.
Prior to 2019, those wishing to sell baked goods and other items could only do so at farmers’ markets and similar venues. Now, food artisans can sell from home, online or in retail stores.
For Stephanie Root, this change in law changed her life.
Root has celiac disease. Although there are different levels of celiac disease, eating foods with any amount of gluten leads to health issues for the mother of five. Celiac disease affects the digestive system, causing pain, sluggishness, and other problems.
“When our family lived in Richmond, I realized that I didn’t feel well after eating,” she said. “I started looking at the holistic way of dealing with things and just started eliminating.”
At the time, few doctors were interested in talking to him about his symptoms.
“I couldn’t find anyone to listen to me, so I looked for a support group,” she says.
As she eliminated wheat and other grains such as barley and rye, Root noticed a difference in her health.
“A friend of mine had been diagnosed with celiac disease and my reactions ticked all the boxes,” she said. “Living in Richmond, I was able to find food I could eat at grocery stores and some restaurants.”
Life then took a turn. Her husband’s job took them to New York just before the health pandemic hit. This event ended the job opportunity and brought them home to West Virginia.
“We came for two months and here we are two years later,” she says with a smile. “I love life here, but it has certainly posed challenges.”
One of those challenges was, in Root’s words, “culture shock.”
“I couldn’t run to the grocery store and find my gluten-free foods and ingredients anymore,” she said. “Restaurants here aren’t as familiar with the challenges of a celiac or gluten-sensitive person.”
Root said all of these changes only strengthened her “why not” outlook on life.
“Why not create my own food, my own recipes,” she said. “Why not grow my own vegetables and maybe one day raise my own chickens? »
Knowing that others in the area might face the same issues led her to start her baked goods cottage industry, Enchanted Eats.
In her spotlessly clean kitchen, Root can control what she says is one of the biggest problems, that of cross-contamination.
“What sometimes restaurants and bakeries don’t understand is that just cooking things in the same area at the same time can contaminate gluten-free foods,” she said.
An example given by Root is a chain of restaurants cooking different foods in the same oil.
“I ate my favorite meal there and wasn’t feeling well, only to find out that cross-contamination had occurred,” she said. “It was a sad day for me.”
Coming from a long line of cooks, Root says she adapts many recipes.
“My grandmother and great-grandmother were fantastic cooks,” she said. “I come from a family that loves food, so I had to find a way to make adjustments.”
All of its baked goods are made from scratch. She carefully looks at every label of every ingredient. Using certain brands of vanilla, baking powder and flowers ensures that her brownies, cupcakes, cheesecakes and other treats are safe to eat. She includes the ingredients on every item she sells.
While only her son seems to have gluten intolerance, her family enjoys being her tasters.
“I love that my two children still at home help me in the kitchen,” she said. “I teach them at home and we use the cooking classes to teach math and the company teaches them about marketing and other things.”
The real business end of things started accidentally.
Coming from “Starbucks country,” Root said he found out his real estate agent, Charessa Wilkinson of Sold Sisters, also runs a cafe, Hallowbeans.
“I went to get some coffee and asked if any of the treats would work with my allergies,” she said. “We started talking and she suggested that I sell my baked goods at the store. That’s how I started.
Finding the name of his business was one of the most difficult tasks. Loving magical things and “Alice in Wonderland” got her thinking about enchantment.
“And having good food to eat isn’t magic in a way,” Root said. “It just seemed to flow together and match my personality.”
Through word of mouth and online marketing, Enchanted Eats has grown so much that Root now only fulfills personal orders.
“There are so many people in this area who want to eat homemade baked goods, but they can’t because of allergies,” she said. “I am so happy to be able to provide them with this. I go where I need me the most.
Root says she is always trying new things. Sometimes the ideas come from her clients, sometimes her daughter sees an idea online.
“I have a client who will call me and tell me she wants something,” she said. “So, I’ll find a way to do it. I really try to get to know my clients.
The baker adapted a West Virginia favorite.
“I make pepperoni rolls,” she says.
Root has a dream for those dealing with the food issues she encounters.
“I would love to have a restaurant where the customer could come in and eat safely,” she said.
With his “why not” attitude, this dream may one day come true.
Orders for Enchanted Eats can be placed by messaging Root on Facebook at Enchanted Eats WV. Deliveries are made in Charleston on Thursdays and Parkersburg on Fridays, and pickups in Ripley are on Wednesdays.