Recently, the term "Artisan Food" has gained popularity among food marketers looking to differentiate their clients products. One only has to look toward fast food restaurants like Dominos Artisan Pizza line, Wendy's Artisan Egg Sandwich, and Panera Bread's claim of being "artisan fast food."
In my business, we profess to be "your online connection to Michigan artisan food." Seeing products that, in my opinion, clearly didn't fall into the category of artisan food caused to to ask the question, "What is artisan food, anyway?"
To get my answer, I went right to the source - the food artisans we represent on Traverse Gourmet. Here's what they had to say:
From Tim Kearney, Vice President at Naturally Nutty - "For us artisan food is about creativity, its about caring for the person who eats our food, and it's about the ingredients we use and the environments they come from."
From Christopher Sack, President/Co-Founder at Great Lakes Tea & Spice - "For us, artisan food is food thoughtfully prepared by smaller blenders/chefs in small, hand-blended/hand-prepared batches. That is who we choose to work with for the blending of our products. The McCormicks and Liptons of the world serve their purpose, but work in such large batches that freshness and ingredient quality are forgone in the interest of buying in volume. We choose not make that compromise."
From Drew Warner, Co-Founder at Just Good Chocolate - "Artisan food is unique; it's defined by the fact that nothing else on earth exists that is exactly the same. Artisan food is created with love, with attention to detail, not mass produced on factory lines with only quantity in mind rather than quality."
From Timothy Young, President/Chef at Food For Thought - "I consider it to mean food with soul...something created for reasons of beauty, health and creativity as opposed to something for performance, indulgence or mere profit."
As for myself, I believe food artisans are defined by their integrity. They care deeply about their customers and how their products effect the environment. They respect their ingredients and improve their processes over time.
It's also about taste. Food crafted in small batches with the up-most attention to detail in process and ingredients simply tastes better than it's industrialized counterpart. We'd love to hear what you think defines artisan food.
Happy eating! Norm Plumstead, Founder of Traverse Gourmet