Ready or not, the giving season is upon us. But luckily, it's early and we all have time to consider thoughtful, important gifts for those we love.
To help with your gifting mission, we put together a list of five wonderful websites that feature small artisan food producers so you can treat your food-loving friends to something new this year. And feel good about where you decide to spend your money.
1) Foodzie: This San Francisco-based website sells artisan food products from around the country. Think of it much like Etsy but for food: artisan producers apply to be sellers and if accepted, Foodzie allows them to sell their products on the site. It's well-designed and features the popular Tasting Box Subscription, a themed selection of the best artisan food products packaged sweetly for delivery each month.
2) Gilt Taste: Gilt Taste is a smaller endeavor than Foodzie in that it's vetted more closely so the selection isn't as broad. That being said, there are dozens of products we want to buy on the site right this second--everything from wine to caramels to high-end salumi. Their 2011 Holiday Gift Guide profiles lovely products and producers and the stories behind both. With stunning photography and supplemental text, the guide helps you understand the back story behind each gift you choose this year.
3) Foodoro: Fodoro describes themselves as a marketplace of gourmet food crafted by artisan producers and farmers. They're a little less visual than Foodzie and Gilt Taste but the site is extremely organized and searchable which is a major bonus. You'll find categories such as "condiments", "honey and syrup", and "sauces". Or you can search by foodmakers to learn more about the companies and producers directly. We're especially intrigued by the Java and Co. coffee infused syrups and Sweet Riot All-Natural Chocolates.
4) Marx Foods: The tagline at Marx Foods is "fine food in bulk," and so it is. The categories they offer are much broader than some other food sites, with choices ranging from "Meats and Poultry" to "Produce" or "Cheese." But once you're searching inside each category, you'll notice subcategories that will keep you busy for quite some time. For instance, inside "Produce," you'll notice "Fresh Sea Vegetables" and "Exotic Fruits." They have a page where they post original recipes and a very likeable blog written by the company's CEO on topics ranging from truffles to business branding. In short, there is personality and verve behind this food website. You may go to buy some chevre, but you'll stay awhile learning, say, about a chocolate producer from the Pacific Northwest.
5) Market Hall Foods: If you live in the Bay Area, you've likely heard of Market Hall Foods. It's an indoor market housing kitchen wares, a wonderful bakery and deli and cheese counter, espresso bar, and prepared and packaged artisan foods. They've set up an online shop to feature some of their most popular products and producers and it's worth a look. Along with the more typical jars of jams and honey, we love this site for the unexpected products from Italy and France alongside the best in California foods (there's actually an entire category on California Goods). You'll find everything from breton caramels to candied lilac petals.
Related: 5 Great Canning Websites
(Images: Foodzie, Market Hall, Foodoro)