But what exactly is artisanal food? Artisan means “one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods.” Usually, this refers to the food product being made by hand, in small batches, and with particular emphasis on preserving traditional techniques. Also, fresh and local ingredients tend to be stressed.
For practitioners, it’s about salvaging old recipes and catering to consumers want something not factory assembled. For these makers, artisanal food is a labour of love.
“A food artisan is someone who is completely and wholly integrated into the creation of their product,” said June Taylor, who specialises in hand made jams and syrups in Berkeley, California, in a recent interview in the San Francisco Chronicle.
In short, the idea of creating an artisan food is to make something with a love for the person who is going to eat it. This is why it is created in smaller batches— with a closer attention given to detail.
However, critics are also quick to point out that “artisan” is a buzzword used by marketers to re-brand themselves as more of their customers switch to more wholesome alternatives.
These industry watchers are concerned that marketers are watering down the word in their efforts to twist the words of the food movement to sell packaged and fast food. The word “artisan”, they say, evokes positive associations from eaters, which is major food companies are increasingly using the word as a synonym for “good for you.”
And they say it’s already happening: Big name coffee chains have started calling its beverages as handcrafted. Some have even used the word “artisan” to describe its line-up of sandwiches.
But there are others who see it different: If nothing else, this trend of using the word “artisan” also means that businesses have finally got it, and they’re crafting quality items for the discerning consumer looking for something more than just what’s available on the assembly line.
Master confectioner Max Lesser, who handcrafts sweets in small batches at the Morning Glory Confections kitchen in Los Angeles, told food website thekitchn.com: “There is something odd about enormous brands using the term ‘artisan’ to brand something that is the antithesis of handcrafted.” He added: “Yet, I’d like to think that they are just responding to consumers who want a connection to the food they eat. People want to feel that what they’re eating is pure and authentic and made by actual people, not machines. So while this desire may increase mass-produced potato chips or pizza labelled “artisan,” it will also bring more true food artisans to the table.
And that’s a good thing.”
What are your thoughts?