Marczyk Fine Foods 2010 Summer News
We’ve come a long way from Jolly Ranchers and Jerky
Denver, CO – As Marczyk Fine Foods moves into its 9th year, we are amazed at what local now means.
When we opened, Colorado food products were few and far between. “Buy Colorado” meant the random jerky product next to the fool’s gold in any 16th street mall store, or Jolly Ranchers at the ski area ticket counters. Plenty of sweets, not much savory.
The ability to source Colorado products has improved dramatically, because as with any free market, there had to be a demand. The demand for good local fare used to be split between the hippies, who went to the farmers markets before they were hip, and the foodies, who scanned the restaurant menus looking for name brands. Now it’s both of those groups and consumers who want to support Colorado farmers, ranchers, and producers. In our grocery business, being able to find local bakers, Colorado cheese makers, and other fine Colorado products has been a bonus for Marczyk’s.
Here are some of our favorite vendors and why we love them:
City Bakery. Long-time baker Michael Bortz calls City Bakery home 7 days a week. Bortz brings us fluffy crusty ciabatta, French baguettes, cinnamon coffee cakes, and the world’s best Christmas stollen. Stollen is sweet dough bread with a center of raisins, nuts, and almond paste. It’s baked, then dipped in butter and rolled in vanilla sugar. Michael’s father was a chocolatier, so he comes by his craft honestly!
Udi’s is a Denver family business whose “reverent obsession with edible perfection” means Denver’s best granola, focaccias, levains, rusticos, and even gluten free sandwich breads. All of their breads are delivered daily to us.
Rudi’s Bakery has been baking since 1976, and was certified organic in 1998. Their ingredients “contain no dangerous pesticides and…breads are made without artificial ingredients, preservatives, trans fats, or high-fructose corn syrup.” They’ve been baking real before it even had a category.
Izze Sodas. It sounds like the entrepreneurial dream of a lifetime: two friends are talking in Boulder. They both want something different in their lives. They both think European sodas are delicious. Within a year they have a product and are on their way, living happily ever after. True story. Everything about this product is lovable: the taste, the packaging, the ingredients, and the new flavors like birch. Yes birch, like the tree.
Oogavé Sodas. Certified kosher and organic, and made with agave nectar. Agave nectar processes in the body more slowly than high fructose corn syrup, and it has a higher fructose level, meaning they can use less to get the same level of sweetness. Cola, ginger ale, and watermelon cream flavored, to name a few. Invented and made right here in Denver.
Morning Fresh Dairy/Noosa Yogurt. The Graves family in Bellvue, CO has been in the dairy business for 116 years. These days, the Graves and their 5 children work the dairy daily, providing fresh, non-homogenized milk in glass bottles to homes and businesses like Marczyk’s.
Modern milk is usually homogenized and pasteurized. Pasteurization is a heating process that kills bacteria and homogenization breaks down the molecular structure of the fat cells, which makes the milk more stable and increases its shelf life. Morning Fresh sells cream top milk, whole milk, 1% and 2% milks, chocolate milk, and seasonal eggnog. The taste on all their milk is richer than homogenized. Heavy cream is their stand-out product - it can be whipped by hand, holds together for days once whipped, and hardly needs any sugar.
And to keep up with the times, they have added Noosa yogurt: an Australian style yogurt in several flavors. Imagine…a thick, not too sour, not too sweet yogurt that our customers swear is the best yogurt we carry. (A yogurt with its own Facebook page?)
Across I-25 from Bellvue (by a few hundred miles) is the very small agricultural town of Nunn, CO. Keep driving north and there you‘ll find Marczyk’s egg purveyor, Penny, who lives within view of Wyoming. At her small farm she raises laying chickens for our eggs, and contracts with other farmers in the region. Delivery is every 2 weeks: 8 cases of 150 eggs, and she can barely keep up with our demand. The yolks are deep yellow and they hold together beautifully. This has been one of our most difficult products to source: too hot/too cold to lay, no egg containers, car broke down…but to be able to support a local farmer who carries a popular product, it’s worth keeping after it.
Jerry’s Nut House. They aren’t flashy or hip, and unfortunately are best recognized in Denver by the bags of mixed nuts and candy sold door to door in Denver office buildings. But for 60 years this under-the-radar roasting house at 21st and Humboldt has been supplying chefs, confectionaries, and retailers with freshly roasted nuts, dried fruits, and candy. The old fashioned candy, giant cashews, walnuts, and candied nuts (to name a few) are some of the best you’ll find in the US. A recent fire burnt the building down, and they rebuilt an elegant showroom in the same location.
Meat and Poultry
“Eating local” is only as strong as its weakest link, and that link in the US is the slaughtering process. In a recent NYT article about Vermont, the difficulty is summed up by one statistic: “The state has seven operating slaughterhouses, down from around 25 in the mid-1980s.” Meat and poultry seems to be the hardest thing to bring back to local, mostly because of this issue, but out in the eastern plains town of Bennett, Dallas Gilbert is doing his best. His Eastern Plains Natural Food Co-op provides Marczyk’s with heritage breed chickens, which are worlds away in flavor and texture than anything our customers have tried before. Like heritage turkeys, they are meaty and rich, and have a deep chicken-y taste. Dallas also raises heritage turkeys for us at Thanksgiving. True to the problems just mentioned, they are slaughtered over the border in Kansas, where a USDA inspector is present to inspect every animal.
Sunny Breeze Farm sheep’s milk cheeses are new on the market. Marczyk’s carries the Sunburst, a soft spreadable chevre-like cheese. As with many sheep milk cheeses, this one has a nice barnyard-y taste.
Sunny Breeze is a ranch near Craig, CO, run by Joel and Joanne Petre and 4 of their 7 children. Joel grew up on a dairy farm in PA, and had a dairy in Grand Junction. He got the idea for sheep’s milk cheese production from an article in a local farm and ranch paper, which stated there was a niche for sheep’s milk products in Colorado. They raise Friesian ewes on 259 acres of high country land. Sunny Breeze is the only commercial sheep milk producer in the country. http://store.sunnybreezefarm.com/about_us.html.
Other Colorado Vendors we love:
Busy Bee Honey, Larkspur. http://www.honeylocator.com/profiles/4221900.asp
Georgetown Candy, Georgetown. http://www.georgetownvalleycandycompany.com/
Hammonds Candies, Denver. http://www.hammondscandies.com/
Robin Chocolates, Denver. http://robinchocolates.com/
Raquelita’s Tortillas, Denver. http://www.raquelitas.com/our_story.htm
Too Haute Cowgirls, Denver. http://www.toohautecowgirls.com/
Novo Coffee, Denver. http://www.novocoffee.com/
Vail Mountain Coffee, Minturn. http://www.vailcoffee.com/
Evol Burritos, Boulder. http://evolfoods.com/
Ela Family Farms, Hotchkiss. http://www.elafamilyfarms.com/
Oogies Popcorn, Denver. http://www.oogiesnacks.com/
Savory Spice, Denver. http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/
Other research of interest:
Mile High Business Alliance has gathered compelling information for buying local. Some of the key findings include:
• A modest change in consumer behavior - a mere 10% shift in market share to independent businesses from chain stores - would result in 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in wages, and a $137 million economic impact to the area.
• A dollar spent at a local business recirculates at least three more times in the community than a dollar spent at a non local business (Economic Multiplier Effect - local businesses are more likely to spend their $ at other local biz!)
• 1,632,077 - Jobs you support/sustain each year when you buy local.
• 98,675,000,000 - Dollars that stay in Colorado when you buy local
• 535,016 - Local businesses fueling Colorado’s economy
Read more here: http://milehighbiz.org/whylocal
BALLE the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies has national data on shopping local. http://www.livingeconomies.org/netview/resources-and-studies/LFstudies.