Artisan: The Mass-Produced Hand Crafted Food Dilemma
Hanna Raskin at SF Weekly has the story on the meaning of the word "artisan." As has been noted several times in the past few months, the adjective "artisan" has been stretched to describe mass-produced foods, and has therefore morphed from its original meaning, sparking resentment and debate:
Yet while the noun "artisan" is ripe for parody, the adjective has somehow managed to acquire commercial cachet. Domino's, Sargento, Tostitos, and Dunkin' Donuts have lately tagged their pizzas, shredded cheese, chips, and bagels with the label, well aware that sales of specialty food products shot up 19 percent between 2009 and 2011. Empire Mayonnaise, an emblematically precious Brooklyn outfit, can only make its black-garlic spread in exceptionally limited quantities, but the desire for authentic, handcrafted excellence has clearly trickled down to those who can't buy the mayo.In the South and Midwest, food producers are taking full advantage of the opportunities their angst-ridden, tale-spinning brethren on the coasts have helped create. They're salvaging generations-old recipes, buying raw ingredients from farmers desperate for new income sources, and selling the results to eaters suddenly hungry for food that isn't factory-assembled. "They'll buy something like ours compared to something commercial any day," Herkner says.