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The Prohibited List

I regard myself as a progressive eater. Like other aspects of my life, I am looking for win-wins … foods that bring me quality, purity and high green and animal welfare standards. I am not perfect, but I am constantly trying to be more and more so.

MarxFoods.com is kind of the same, but there is an added requirement: profitability. It is part of the inherent conflict in business between sound social/enviro choices and choices that lead to maximum profits.

We don’t trumpet our eco or humane credentials very often because corporate green-washing is a pet peeve of mine and we have a handful of achilles heels on that front. But, if you look at our product offerings, there is a sustainable/humane thread running through many of our product categories.

A customer asked us today to source tiger prawns for them and we had to politely decline. There are few special requests that we decline. What we have decided is that we aren’t going to tell people how to eat, but we also aren’t going sell the foods that I avoid at all costs. Farmed salmon tops that list, along with tiger prawns, milk-fed veal, foie gras and wild turtle meat.

Foie gras is a particularly tricky one for me, because our sister companies sell it to distributors and restaurants. Certainly, if we offered it through the web, we could make a lot of money. My partners like to remind me of this.

I am constantly conflicted about whether to wield my own biases and judgments when it comes to not selling something. Any thoughts on this? Should we just sell everything that foodies might want? Should we add more items to the prohibited list and if so, which items?




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4 Responses to “The Prohibited List”

  1. 1
    Grant Snell says:

    Your decision up to now to work with and educate discerning consumers rather than support the omnivorous and uncaring, willing to spend money though they may be, is the wisest. As Shakespeare once said – “…this above all else, unto thine own self be true…”

    There is rapidly coming a product deserving to be on the prohibited list in my estimation, though I suspect that it will be controversial to put it there. Genetically modified farmed salmon is in the final stages of being approved by the FDA as I understand it. Why controversial to prohibit?…the farm salmon industry is promising to raise it in tanks on land with totally filtered outputs to ‘guarantee’ no threat to the wild salmon. So after rightfully criticizing them for their feed lots of the sea that offer no protection to the wild, I am sure that they will cry foul when people object to them farming something responsibly on land. However, they are lobbying to make sure that the product does not have to be labelled as genetically modified (the genetic modification is not an ingredient by current definition) – so the public will have no way of knowing that this “new”, “green” (and possibly organic), responsibly raised salmon is actually what in Europe is usually referred to as (and generally rejected as) ‘ frankenfood’.

    Never a dull moment is there……

    Yours

    Grant

  2. 2
    Roland says:

    Here’s a link on some foie gras without force feeding.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html

    http://www.ibergour.co.uk/en/productos/ficha_producto.html?id_prod=fesou

    For the life of me, I could swear I’ve seen other links to the stuff without the force feeding, but can no longer find it.

  3. 3
    Chantel says:

    Personally, if your business is profitable maintaining the sustainable/humane offerings, then I would maintain your ground and not provide everything the foodies want. It’s nice to find companies that have and hold true to their standards. If the foodies want it, they will find it elsewhere, and sometimes in business that’s okay! They will return to you for what you do have because of your quality.

  4. 4
    Justin says:

    I heard on the radio this morning about the genetically modifed salmon, Grant … that is terrifying stuff that will never find itself in our store. Roland, I am very intrigued by humane foie gras … The discovery of a duck’s fatty liver apparently originates from a natural, humane source. I don’t know the exact story, but it has something to do with ducks fattening themselves up before their migration. I wonder what would cause domesticated birds to gorge themselves…maybe it is a heritage breed that has its instincts fully intact. If you find any more links, please send them my way. I am curious. And, I think you are on to something, Chantel.



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