New Delicious Goodies!

June 13, 2016

Now on MarxPantry.com

Smoked Honey!

Smoked Honey

Sweet, rich, and elegantly smoky – this honey blends the floral characteristics of wildflower honey with cold white oak smoke – a fascinating addition to cocktails, dressings, sauces, desserts, fruit salads & more!

New Cooking Sauces

Madras Cooking Sauce Masala Cooking Sauce Mole Cooking Sauce

Madras Cooking Sauce

Masala Cooking Sauce

Mole Poblano Paste

Super easy & super tasty – these sauces let you take weeknight meals to India or Mexico with minimal fuss.

Tastes of Morocco

Argan Almond Butter Saffron Threads

“Amlou” Argan Almond Butter
Amlou butter is Moroccan-style almond butter made with argan oil and wildflower honey.  It’s sweet, creamy, toasty, and intensely nutty.  Argan oil is a highly prized superfood packed with antioxidants that’s a hand-harvested Moroccan delicacy.

Moroccan Saffron Threads
Though until recently it hasn’t been marketed by origin, Moroccan saffron is some of the world’s finest.

Exotic Caramel Sauces

White Sage Caramel Sauce Smoky Caramel Sauce

White Sage Caramel Sauce

Smoky “Campfire” Caramel Sauce

We’re big fans of Hotcakes, a local Seattle dessert institution renowned for their take & bake molten chocolate cakes.  They also make some really exciting caramels.  Check these new flavors out!

New Element Shrubs

Honeydew Jalapeno Shrub Chai Pear Shrub Mint Lemon Shrub

Honeydew Jalapeno Shrub

Chai Pear Shrub

Mint Lemon Shrub

We love shrubs in the summer as crisp non-alcoholic coolers or cocktail mixers in the summer.  Element is making varieties with clean-yet-complex flavor profiles.  We’re excited to welcome them to our collection – check them out!

Other Pantry Items

Organic Kaniwa Granulated Lemon Peel Chimi Rub

Organic Kaniwa

Granulated Lemon Peel

Elvio’s Chimi Rub

Green Serrano Powder No Photo  

Green Serrano Chile Powder

Dried Lupini Beans

 

New on MarxFoods.com

Maple Buds

maple buds

Sweet, floral maple buds are the young growths of big leaf maple trees.  They’re prized by foragers for use in fritters, teas & syrups.

We’ve missed the season this year, but keep an eye out for them next spring!



New Link Lab Sausages & Marx Pantry Goodies!

June 01, 2016

New to Marx Foods:
Link Lab Sausages!
Link Lab Sausages

We love Link Lab Sausages at Marx Foods.  They’re handmade, chef-quality sausages produced by a Seattle company in small batches from local, responsibly-raised meats.  The level of quality is top notch, and you can tell due to their more tender texture, the pronounced “snap” of natural casings, and superior flavor.

Watch our behind-the-scenes producer spotlight video (below) to learn more about them, and check out the varieties to pick out your new favorite!


Venison Cheeks!

Sure, it’s not braising season right now, but our new venison cheeks will be here for you later on.  They’re packed with delicious venison flavor and become meltingly-tender when slow braised in a flavorful sauce.  Something to look forward to!

New to Marx Pantry:

First the Sweet…
Marsala Pop Popcorns

We now carry popcorn. We thought we’d never say that, ever…but Marsala Pop changed our minds.

Their popular Marsala Chai Popcorn probably gets gobbled by staff the most, but their two limited-release flavors: Saffron & Rose Popcorn (a lovechild of American kettle corn & Indian desserts) and Spicy Pineapple & Cardamom Popcorn set this food writer’s heart aflutter.  They challenge (and fascinate) the palate in remarkable ways.

Shiro Plum & Mint Jam

The label says it all, but it doesn’t do the flavor of this plum & mint jam justice.  The balance between the tangy, fruity, sweet plum & herby, fresh spearmint is spot on, and that makes all the difference.  Jam of this quality isn’t just for toast.  Try it with fine cheeses, in sauces, on desserts or stirred into yogurt, or shake/stir some into your next vinaigrette.

Quince Cutting Preserves

Quince Cutting Preserves

Membrillo (Spanish quince paste) is a must-have for fancy cheese plates and some tapas and desserts.  The tawny, fruity, deep, honeyed flavor of stewed quince does amazing things to the rest of the food on the plate.  These quince cutting preserves are in the same style, but a tad softer with a flavor that’s richer & better balanced.  They’re handmade in small batches on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington.

Pasteli Sesame Bar

Sesame Bar

Snack like ancient Greek warriors (seriously, this stuff was mentioned in The Illiad) with Greek pasteli bars.  These delightful treats have only two ingredients: sesame seeds & Greek honey.  They’re super-duper tasty and were used as energy bars by Greek athletes & soldiers.

Then the Savory…

Red Boat Chef’s Cuvee Fish Sauce

Cuvee Fish Sauce

Red Boat is the chef’s favorite fish sauce brand, offering superb flavor for the price.  Their chef’s cuvee fish sauce is even more special.  After the sauce comes out of Red Boat’s traditional cask-fermenting process, it gets aged again in bourbon barrels, making its flavor incredibly smooth.  It’s amazing stuff.

Full Size Haute Sauces

We’ve offered Haute Sauce’s delightfully gift-able hot sauce sampler for a long time, but have now added full size bottles of the same flavors.



Lots of Tasty New Products!

April 14, 2016

New to Marx Pantry:

Superbites!
super bites super bites

Superbites are packed with protein, energy, and simple ingredients. They’re gluten, wheat, yeast & soy free and have none of the junk found in some other energy bars.  They’re remarkably good for you, and remarkably tasty.  We now carry almond superbites & cashew superbites.

St Jude Tuna
St Jude Tuna St Jude Tuna

We love St Jude tuna here at Marx Foods.  This local, family owned & operated tuna fishing boat brings in excellent catch & cans it with care.  The level of quality is far superior to the mass market stuff.

We now offer two varieties: Solid White Albacore (in its own juices) & Solid White Albacore in Olive Oil.

Italian Honey

Italian Honey

Italian Honey Italian Honey Sampler
Wild Carrot Honey

Rhododendron Honey Honey Gift Tube Sampler

Mieli Thun is a small Italian honey company selling the wares of Andrea Paternoster, a nomadic beekeeper.  Andrea moves his bees around Italy in tune with the flowering seasons of various plans, collecting superb monofloral honey varieties with unique characteristics.

Vegan Caramel Sauce
Vegan Caramel
Whether you’re vegan or not, this sauce is still worth checking out for its unique flavor profile, which evokes the burnt sugar on the top of a perfect crème brulee.  Tasty!
Organic Date Syrup
Organic Date Syrup

This sweetener is made from organic dates, nothing else.  Sweet, thick & packed with rich tangy/fruity date flavor, the use of date syrup may date back to ancient Mesopotamia and is still common in the Middle East.  Give it a try!

Organic Curry Ketchup
Curry Ketchup

This duck knows what’s up.  Ketchup with curry spices instead of corn syrup.  Grilling season is coming, you should have this on hand.

Ssam Korean Chili Sauce
Ssam Sauce

Made famous by restaurants in Chef David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group, this version of classic Korean ssamjang chile sauce blends sweet, sour, spicy and intensely savory into an addictive general purpose condiment.

Dried Butterfly Pea Flowers
Dried Pea FLowers

These unique flowers make a mild herbal tea when steeped in hot water.  Much more exciting however is how they color the water, turning it a gorgeous blue.  Stir in an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, and it shifts before your eyes into a deep royal purple.

Use butterfly pea flowers to make tea, simple syrup for cocktails, colored ice cubes, rice & more.

Wiri Wiri Chile Powder
Wiriwiri powder

Ground from fiery chilies commonly found in the cuisines of Central America, the Caribbean & the Yucatan.

Poblano Chile Powder
poblano Chilie Powder

Grassy & a touch spicy, green poblano chile powder brings different flavors to your dishes than mulato chilies & ancho chilies (both made from poblanos).

Zinfandel Verjus

Verjus

Verjus is an ancient ingredient that is used similarly to vinegar.  Instead of being wine changed by bacteria into vinegar, this is juice pressed from under-ripe grapes (a byproduct of winemaking) that is similarly bright & acidic.

Water Balloon Plum Jam

These plump plums with a funny name make fantastic jam, and Ayako of Ayako & Family knows just how to make it.

New to Marx Foods:
Iberico Back Fat

We added a full line of succulent Iberico pork cuts to the store last month, but we have one more to add to the collection: back fat (aka fat back).  Iberico pork fat is sweet, creamy, and highly prized by chefs in-the-know.

Paw Paws

Paw Paws aren’t in season yet, they typically show up in September…but we’re ready for when they do!  Check out the new product page for more information about this unique native American fruit!



Announcing New Wild Squab!

April 01, 2016

We’re super excited to announce that our new wild squab program is ready to launch!  As you probably all know, we’ve offered squab meat for years, but it’s always been farmed.

For a while now we’ve been lining up a network of independently contracted trappers across the US to be able to bring you a consistent, reliable supply of truly wild squab meat in a range of cuts: whole, semi-boneless & frenched legs.

All wild squab are captured using a humane net-gun & chloroform method that avoids stressing the animals.  Because exposure is so brief, no anesthetic residue is present in the meat.

Even more exciting, we’ve found that the flavor of wild squab can vary widely based on its habitat and diet.  Thanks to the breadth of our trapping network, we’re able to launch with a variety of origins you can select at checkout, enabling you to experience the true terroir of the major production regions.

Currently available options include:

Manhattan

Perhaps the most well-rounded of our squab varieties, manhattan squab forages across a wide variety of ethnic cuisines ranging from thin crust pizza to chow mein & the occasional cigarette butt (giving the meat a subtle smokiness).

Santa Monica Pier

SMP squab is essentially the pigeon equivalent of wagyu beef, extra well-marbled with a pronounced “butteriness” due to a diet primarily consisting of coconut oil-infused popcorn and cotton candy.  SMP squabs are hotdog-finished after capture.

Seattle

Lining up staff to bring in the Seattle catch was difficult, but the results are worth it. Seattle squab are higher in omega-3 fatty acids thanks to the salmon eyes & tail meat that make up a large portion of their forage feed. Competing for food sources with the local seagull population keeps them lean & scrappy!

If you are interested in being one of our first orders, or contracting with us as a trapper, APRIL FOOLS!



New Iberico Pork, Snails & More!

March 22, 2016

Some really exciting new products just hit the Marx Foods & Marx Pantry stores.  Check them out!

 

New to Marx Foods:

Iberico Pork from Spain

Iberico Pork is considered amongst the world’s finest pork.  You’ve probably heard of Iberico ham, but it turns out the rest of the hog is also incredibly delicious.  “Chefs are telling us it’s the best pork they’ve ever worked with” kinda’ delicious.

If you want to party like Spaniards do, go for the secreto or pluma (end loin), season simply with salt & pepper, then sear or grill it to an internal temperature of 125°F (more rare than Americans normally would).*

You’ll be amazed by how succulent and tasty it is.

 

American-Grown Escargots

In an announcement has been a long time coming (that’s a snail joke), we’re super jazzed to now be carrying American escargots.  They’re farmed here in Washington State and sold shelled & frozen – ready to saute or bake in some butter, garlic & parsley.

Because they’re frozen, not canned, and are the smaller, more tender petit gris variety, their texture and flavor are significantly better than most on the market.

Take your time savoring them (also a snail joke) and you’ll be rewarded.

 

New to Marx Pantry:

Portuguese & Spanish Tinned Fish

We’re not talking about run of the mill canned tuna here.  Portugal and Spain both produce some of the world’s finest tinned fish in a tradition referred to as conservas.  We’ve tried a bunch over the years, and the ones we finally decided to carry are by far the best.

They’re so good that you can simply serve them with crusty bread, maybe some leafy greens or a lentil salad, and you’ve got instant high-class tapas.  Yum!

Check them out!

 

Coffee Flour

You’ve probably never heard of coffee flour before, but that’s about to change.  This exciting new food represents the cutting edge of sustainable super foods & is already starting to garner a lot of press & praise.

Coffee Flour is made from the fruit that grows around coffee beans.  It has a fruity flavor, a little caffeine, and is naturally very nutritious & also gluten free.  It can be used in baked goods or as a seasoning.

 

Paella Kit

Our new Paella Kit contains everything you need to make the delicious Spanish one-pot classic, besides a pan and some fresh meats (we recommend chicken, rabbit, or the aforementioned snails), seafood, or vegetables.

We’ve picked out just the right rice, the right base broths, and the right pimenton (also new).  All of which were made in Spain for real Spaniards, then imported for you. (we know a guy)

What are you waiting for?  It’s paella time!

 

Fresh As Freeze Dried Fruits

We know you’ve seen freeze dried fruit before.  This is not that fruit.

Fresh As produces freeze dried fruit that’s been painstakingly hand-cut & processed for use in fine dining restaurants.  It also happens to make a very tasty snack, with much better flavor, texture & appearance than the other stuff.

We now offer their mandarin segments and strawberry slices.  Lychees are coming soon!

 

Orgeat Syrup

Stop giggling.  It’s pronounced “orzaht.”  The word’s French…which means it’s fancy.

Orgeat is a nutty, creamy, floral syrup infused with almonds, orange blossom water and, in this instance, apricot kernels.  It’s an essential ingredient in tiki drinks like the Mai Tai.

We’ve tried several, and Small Hand Foods’ Orgeat is the best.

 

Dried Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms

The latest addition in our epic quest to bring you all the mushrooms worth eating, saffron milk cap mushrooms are earthy & smoky with a slightly crunchy texture after you rehydrate them.

 

That’s all the stuff that’s new now, but we’re constantly adding more.  Stay tuned!

 

* We’re obligated to mention that the USDA says you should always cook pork to an internal temperature of 145°F with a 3 minute rest for safety.



New Spanish & Peruvian Products!

February 25, 2016

We’ve just added a whole slew of artisan Spanish pantry goods, along with a few Peruvian ingredients to MarxPantry.com.

From Spain

Spanish Sweets:
hazlenut 33% cocoa chocolate blanxart hazlenut almond chocolate blanxart 33% milk chocolate

Blanxart Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts

Blanxart Dark Chocolate with Marcona Almonds

Blanxart 33% Milk Chocolate

blanxart 65% dark chocolate organic 76% brasil chocolate organic filipinas chocolate

Blanxart 65% Dark Chocolate

Organic 76% Brasil Dark Chocolate

Organic 71% Filipinas Dark Chocolate

organic 82% congo chocolate organic 77% peru chocolate organic spanish cookies

Organic 82% Congo Dark Chocolate

Organic 77% Peru Dark Chocolate

Organic Spanish Cookies in 4 Flavors

More Spanish Ingredients:

paella sofrito all i oli garlic spread orange blossom honey

Paella Sofrito

All i Oli Garlic Spread

Organic Orange Blossom Honey

native forest honey olivar de la luna evoo first day evoo

Organic Native Forest Honey

Olivar de la Luna Organic EVOO

First Day Arbequina EVOO

spanish paella broth gran reserva sherry vinegar

Spanish Paella Broths
All the base flavors of paella (stock, meat, seafood, vegetables & saffron) in convenient, natural broths.

Gran Reserva Sherry Vinegar

From Peru

elderberry spread goldenberry spread pussac punay beans

Elderberry Spread

Goldenberry Spread

Pussac Punay Beans



New to Marx Foods: More Wild Produce!

February 21, 2016

We’ve been very busy adding new products to the stores for you to enjoy! Here’s a bunch of new Spring produce (most of it wild foraged!) that we’ll be offering as soon as it comes into season.

white yacon root spruce tips

White Yacon Root

Crisp & juicy like jicama, but quite sweet, this unusual root stores its starches as inulin, which our bodies can’t break down, so it’s lower calorie than you’d think.  Everyone in the office really liked it.

Wild Spruce Tips

Piney, herby, and citrusy, spruce tips are becoming all-the-rage in fine dining restaurants and high end cocktails. They’re typically in season from mid April to mid May.

wood sorrel wild onion


Wild Wood Sorrel

Wild sorrel has a very tart flavor (with mild lemon notes) that really gets the saliva going. It’s typically in season from March to May.


Wild Onions

Not to be confused with delicious, delicious ramps. Wild onions have a much more mild onion/leek flavor and a crisper texture. They’re mild enough to be enjoyed raw, if you’re in the mood. Typically in season from March to Mid-May



New to Marx Pantry in January

February 18, 2016

We added a ton of new pantry products to the store in January…here’s just about half of them!

New Crackers

bespoke chile crackers bespoke rosemay crackers

Bespoke Chile Crackers

Bespoke Rosemary & Lemon Crackers

New Salts

black garlic salt admiralty sea salt

Black Garlic Salt

Admiralty Sea Salt

New Sweets

cranberry pumpkin seed chocolate tiles

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Tiles

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Tiles – Limited Edition, get them while you can!

rakka bourbon chocolate rakka 85% poco 5 spice chocolate bar

Raaka Organic 82% Barrel Aged Chocolate

Raaka Organic 85% Unroasted Chocolate

Poco Dolce Five Spice Bittersweet Chocolate

poco olive oil chocloate poco hazelnut chocolate poco sea salt

Poco Dolce Olive Oil & Salt Bittersweet Chocolate

Poco Dolce Hazelnut Bittersweet Chocolate

Poco Dolce Sea Salt Bittersweet Chocolate

omnom chocolate bar

70% Papua New Guinea Chocolate

New Honey

shipwreck honey shipwreck honey

Shipwreck Wildflower Honey

Shipwreck Raspberry Honey

More New Products

caraway pickles real dill bloody mary scrappy bitters mix

Caraway Garlic Dill Pickles

Real Dill Bloody Mary Mix

Scrappy’s Classic Bitters Mini Sampler

rosemay pork clouds pear quince marmalade cherry sherry fennel jam

Rosemary Pork Clouds

V Smiley Pear Quince Orange Ginger Marmalade

V Smiley Cherry Sherry Fennel Jam



Our Favorite Autumn Eats (and Drinks!)

November 04, 2015

Living in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes it feels like it takes a while for the seasons to fully transition. But once they do? It is on! We get especially excited for autumn to roll around each year so we can pull out some of our favorite cozy foods, drinks, recipes, and ingredients. What are our favorites? So glad you asked!
hungarian soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Katy: Easy: butter and mushrooms. Or butter and onions. Or butter and onions and rosemary. Butter. Beef Burgundy… no… Beef Stroganoff… no … Stuffed Squash… no… Mushroom Soup … no… CAN’T DECIDE. I love fall.
Veronica: Lately I’ve been getting into making soups and consistently keeping a batch of fire cider ready to drink. For both, onions, ginger, apple cider vinegar, and vegetable stock are must haves. Oh, and sweet potatoes!
Justin: I’m all about Squash Soup and Wild Mushrooms
roasted squash

Roasted Squash Medley with Saffron Butter

Kim: I love all the squashes, right up until I get sick of all the squashes. I love sweet potatoes. I love persimmons so much. Is it a big cliché that these are all orange? I also love all things maple, so glazing sturdy rings of Delicata with a maple cardamom glaze and then roasting them is a fall favorite at my house.
Jake: My favorite ingredients to cook with in the fall are hearty squashes and root vegetables, just like everyone else!  Yet, I like to use them in different ways than roasted with sage and brown butter, as is customary.  Shaving pumpkin super thin, salting it to soften, and making a sweet and savory fish sauce caramel, candied pumpkin seeds, parsley and bitter greens is my favorite rendition.
pumpkin pie

Cardamom Pumpkin Pie

Annie: Pie!! Love making them from scratch! Also, any kind of squash! I love adding it in to a big batch of roasted vegetables (potatoes, onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peppers) and adding that to salads.
Becca: I pretty much want to make all of the apple and pumpkin baked goods. Apple pie! Pumpkin Pie! Pumpkin Bread! Apple Cake! Pumpkin Cake! Apple Pancakes! Oh, and gimme all the cinnamon while you’re at it.
old fashioned

Maple Syrup Old Fashioned

Ryan: I get really into cocktail ingredients; especially things that go with brown cocktails like bitters and grenadine.
Matthew: I go for the obvious ones – orange zest, spices (vanilla, cardamom, star anise, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, etc), lentils, porcinis & braising cuts.I also actually make one of my favorite fall recipes before fall even hits, because it takes time to age.  Gdansk Vodka from “Salt, Sugar & Spice” by Diana Henry is basically an aged cocktail flavored with citrus zest (lemon & orange) & autumn spices (star anise, mace, juniper berries, cloves, cardamom & cinnamon).

Though it takes a bit of time to zest 8 citrus fruit, the hardest parts are really finding whole blade mace (check any Indian markets in your area) and waiting the two and a half months necessary for it to age to the point where you can drink it.

Make it ahead though and you’ll be a superstar at holiday gatherings, it’s superb.

bacon wraped pheasant

Bacon-Wrapped Pheasant with Port Wine Sauce

Tracy: I get really into cooking different types of poultry this time of year. I think Thanksgiving is some of the inspiration behind that, but mostly it’s because game bird hunting season starts in Montana in early October. That is really the only type of hunting my parents have the energy for anymore. Therefore, I’m accustomed to having many types of wild bird during the fall. Such as blue grouse, sage grouse, pheasant, and Hungarian partridge. Also, SWEET POTATOES. A sweet potato baked with butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Simple, but one of my most favorite things ever.
What are your favorite things to eat when fall rolls around?
Becca Lee wrangles our social media accounts, blogger contests, and general marketing work as the Marketing Coordinator for Marx Foods. You can check out one of her many hair colors and read more about her (and her ridiculous sweet tooth) here.


OUR FIRST TIME WITH EDIBLE INSECTS

October 29, 2015

edible insects staff stories
Eating Edible Insects for the first time is something you just don’t forget. Whether we were excited, nervous, or downright queasy about trying these creepy crawly yet super sustainable ingredients, we all lived to tell the tale!
Kim:
I’d been working here at Marx for two weeks before Justin and Ryan said, “Okay, we’re ready for some recipe development.”And so I said “Great, let’s get it rolling.”
And then they said, “For all the edible insects.”
And I thought, “Are you hazing me?”I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how tasty some of the insects are. Others, not so much. I can see why crickets have made it into the canon of traditional Mexican snack food – they’re fantastic with a little garlic, chile and lime. I can see the appeal of grasshopper tacos, and I dig how nutty the termites are, in salads or the classic Termites on a Log (a better and more suspenseful story set-up than Ants on a Log, I feel).
Becca:
I sheepishly tried one of the Chile Lime Crickets Kim made for that photoshoot. Once I actually put it in my mouth it wasn’t so bad, but definitely not my favorite. That said, I straight up devoured a bag of cookies made with cricket flour that didn’t quite make it through a tasting panel a few months later. Moral of the story? I’m way more pumped to eat insects when they don’t LOOK like insects. Cognitive dissonance, ya’ll!
termite salad
Annie:
No comment.
Matthew:
I felt obligated to taste them to uphold my honor as a food writer (I try to never say no).  I did so multiple times, once on a tasting panel to approve for sale, again for flavor profiles to describe them on the store, and in various recipes.  But insects make me extremely uncomfortable & I’d rather not relive these experiences in order to describe them in depth.
Veronica:
This was actually well before my time at Marx Foods. My parents grew up eating edible insects so when they got their hands on crickets again in the states, they were ecstatic. They couldn’t wait for me to try them and in grade school, I was simply not a fan. Nowadays though, I’d definitely recommend the Chapul Cricket Bars and Beetle Larvae.
beetle larvae salad
Tracy:
My first experience was in the Marx Foods test kitchen! We tasted all of the “bugs” before they hit the website and retail store. It was also my very first tasting panel as an employee for Marx Foods. Needless to say, they weren’t scary enough to turn me away, but a very hilarious tasting panel nonetheless. Justin was the bravest one and ate a giant water beetle that nobody else would touch.
Katy:
It wasn’t as bad as I would have thought. But I didn’t try to eat the rhino beetle. Because fuck that. 

Wondering about those giant rhino beetles and water beetles? Check out this video from that infamous tasting panel.

Have you tried edible insects before? Tell us all about your first time trying them in the comments!
Becca Lee wrangles our social media accounts, blogger contests, and general marketing work as the Marketing Coordinator for Marx Foods. You can check out one of her many hair colors and read more about her (and her ridiculous sweet tooth) here.


A Day Gone Very Wrong Right!

September 14, 2015

Behind the scenes of or Urban Picnic shoot, in which everything could have gone wrong, but nothing actually did. Phew!

You know those days when you wake up and just have a feeling that something is going to go wrong? Well, the day of our Urban Picnic photoshoot, I woke up feeling just like that.

It wasn’t just standard issue anxiety, either. There were REASONS. Katy, the star of our shoot, had been out the day prior, so I woke up knowing I might have to fill in for her last minute. Matthew had been out sick the day before, so I also might be on my own to direct the cooking scenes (would I have to direct myself?????). Ryan had been out on vacation, so he was relying on my prep work to make sure the shoot went smoothly. Oh, and did I mention we had rain in the forecast?

I tried to ignore my early morning nerves and went about my morning- took a shower, brushed my teeth, got dressed. Since there was a chance I’d be in the shoot I needed to select my outfit carefully- something summery that I could work in, but still look nice in for photos. No stripes that would look funny on video, and no crazy patterns that would conflict with the picnic blanket. I found the perfect dress.

Well, the dress WAS perfect, until I leaned over to grab my lunch out of the refrigerator and the zipper split wide open, right down the back of the dress. Sigh. I was already running late, so I changed as fast as humanly possible, skipped breakfast, and ran out the door, catching my bus by the skin of my teeth.

As luck would have it, my morning was the only part of the day that went awry. I made it to work right on time and found that Matthew and Katy were both in AND Matthew had already packed up the food Kim had prepped for the shoot! Once we packed up the car, Katy, Matthew, Matt, and I headed out to begin the shoot.

The day could not have gone more smoothly. The recipes Katy was finishing on camera came together in no time, so we ended up with nearly an hour to hang out and shoot the breeze before heading to our next location.

We arrived at Kerry Park to its gorgeous view of the Space Needle and downtown Seattle, as well as Seattle’s signature overcast sky. Not as summery as we had hoped, but there was no rain in sight, so we were happy!

As we settled into the shoot and began take photos and video of the picnic scene, a HUGE tour bus pulled up the park. I began to panic as the bus unloaded like it was a clown car and person, after person, after person set upon the tiny park where we were holding our shoot. It could have been a disaster, but as with the rest of our shoot, the day was going our way! With minimal intervention, the group steered clear of our picnic scene and we got plenty of great, tourist-free shots.

Not moments after we finished shooting and began to dig into the leftovers, I heard Ryan say “I think I felt a rain drop.” I felt one, and then another, and another. Then, one drop later, the sky opened up and it began to pour like it hadn’t poured in months! We hurriedly packed up our food, props, and photo gear, and bee-lined it back to the office, pleased that Mother Nature had timed her day so perfectly around our shoot. Broken zipper aside, the day was a success!

Becca Lee wrangles our social media accounts, blogger contests, and general marketing work as the Marketing Coordinator for Marx Foods. You can check out one of her many hair colors and read more about her (and her ridiculous sweet tooth) here.


Thoughts on Foie Gras Humaneness & My Own Hypocrisy

September 08, 2015

When we launched MarxFoods.com seven years ago, we decided not to sell foie.  I never wanted to be big brother, but I also didn’t want to sell products that I didn’t believe in.  This is the story of how I came to challenge my convictions.

In short, I’ve seen the production of foie ducks, but have begun to wonder if foie production isn’t any worse than commodity chicken production.  After comparing the amount of foie each person (even big fans) consumes in a year vs chicken, I wonder if it isn’t hypocritical of people (including me) to consume one but eschew the other.  As a result I’ve decided to start carrying foie gras, while providing a candid description of what I observed at a foie farm, so people can make their own decision.

Interested in the long version?  Here we go:

Ever since deciding not to carry foie, I have had dozens of people try to change my mind and exactly zero people gave me props for deciding to decline.  We are definitely missing opportunities by not selling foie, but I thought I was doing the right thing.

When a very liberal, animal-loving, sustainability-minded chef friend told me to get over it, I really started to reconsider.  So, I told a foie company that I’d sell their product but first wanted to see for myself how the product was produced.  People in the industry swore up and down that foie production is humane.

If we start carrying foie, I want to be candid about how it’s produced.

The Un-Sugar Coated Truth – What it’s like on a French foie gras farm:

So, I finally went to check out a foie gras farm.  Though it was a supposedly pre-arranged visit by the meat company that buys from this particular farmer, the farmer did not know we were coming.  At first I thought they wouldn’t let us in, but we were able to get a tour after we luckily were able to get in touch with the meat company owner.

This was a perfect opportunity.  Because we surprised them, I got an unscripted, unvarnished window into how a farm operates.

The ducklings start in very clean and spacious barns with access to pasture when the weather is agreeable, then they are moved outside to expansive grassy pasture with access to a barn in inclement weather.  For the first 12 weeks they essentially live like free-range, grass fed animals…the ideal.

The last two weeks of their life looked a little rough to me.  This is the period of time in which they go through the gavage process that involves force feeding a cornmeal type product and causes their livers to get fatty and swell.  Here’s what I observed: The ducks are held in 5-bird wire cages suspended over the floor.  Their poop drops to the floor beneath and pools in a collection area on the floor.  That’s not the end of the poop story, because enough poop landed on the wire cage which is then laid in by the birds.  The birds were definitely slightly beige from poop.  I could see it gumming up their feathers.  The barn smelled mildly of feces.

They keep the barn dark 24 hours a day in order to keep the birds calm if that tells you anything at all.  The birds can and do move around a little.  There’s enough room in each cage that they could squeeze in another 3-5 birds, but not enough for the birds to spread their wings completely.  Twice a day, they get force-fed the moistened cornmeal, but only if they don’t still have cornmeal in their throat remaining from the last feeding.  They are handled gently so as not to damage their gullet.

Some of the birds are gasping, they look full.  They appear frustrated, but who am I to determine that.  They aren’t making noises.  I would ordinarily equate noises with discomfort.  When I mention that the ducklings in barns live in clean, spacious barns & appear very healthy, trying to be positive, the response is that you have to take good care of them otherwise you lose your investment.

I didn’t see the gavage, but I didn’t need to.  I didn’t like what I saw.  It’s clear that this production is not ideal even without the force feeding.

The birds do not run to get fed, as proponents claim.  They are in small cages.  They can’t run to the food and can’t run away.

Is foie gras really worse than commodity meats?

But this led me to be thinking about bigger questions about my own hypocrisy.  The unavoidable reality is that I eat chicken and eggs in restaurants … and they aren’t always labeled as free range (and free range merely means “allowed access to the outside”).  In mediocre restaurants I can always count on a salad with grilled chicken…or chicken dishes in ethnic restaurants.  Those chickens likely are raised in similar small cages their entire lives, not just in the last 2 weeks.

So, what do I eat a year of chicken?  30 lbs?  The average American consumes almost 90lbs of chicken a year.

What does a heavy foie user eat?  1/2 lb?  1 lb?  Foie is an easy lightning rod because of the force feeding, but is it overblown?  No one eats perfect.  So, should the question be “what is the best we can do?”  Or “how should we avoid the worst?”  Am I a hypocrite for eating chicken while avoiding foie?

The Decision:

Some people want foie gras.  Some people want to avoid it.  I’ve decided to be as honest as possible about my personal experiences with the foie farm, in the hopes that people can make informed decisions, then let them decide rather than holding the door shut.

My own thoughts on the subject, as you can see above, are still very much in flux.  I’d love to hear your own thoughts on the subject, whether they be pro or anti foie.  Please leave me a comment below with what you think.