Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed a new trend that the marketing people are using to sell food: slapping the label “artisan” on it. The word conjures up images of smiling, plump folks in aprons (probably in an old-timey house in the countryside) sculpting each piece of food meticulously by hand, carefully inspecting each one before laying it gently in the package for your consumption. In reality, 99% of this stuff comes from a giant factory like anything else — the word “artisan” is yet another marketing bullshit word used to con you into thinking you’re getting something really, really special. Some stuff made by small local companies might qualify as being made by actual “food artisans” (cheese and tofu come to mind), but now that Starbucks has begun using that term, all bets are off!
For some reason I haven’t gotten around to posting about this, but the other day I ran across a post on Gawker about it:
There you have it, America: you (we) are all so dumb that all it takes is one clearly false adjective to convince us to mindlessly open our wallets and pay for the privilege of shoveling the same lab-created chemical pseudofood concoction as always down our gullets.
The Gawker post references a USA Today story on the subject, so I had to go read that as well!
Marketers know that consumers buy into this artisan imagery. More than 800 new food products have christened themselves artisan something-or-other in the past five years, reports researcher Datamonitor. While fewer than 80 new foods dubbed themselves artisan just four years ago, the number more than doubled to nearly 200 in 2010.
“The word artisan suggests that the product is less likely to be mass-produced,” says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director at Datamonitor. “It also suggests the product may be less processed and perhaps better tasting and maybe even be better for you.”
After reading these, I knew it was time to post about it and share a few photos I took (starting last year) when I began noticing this stupid trend. But before that, I have to share with you a blog I discovered while writing this post: it’s called That Is Not Artisan. This woman is my new hero — she goes after the marketing mis-use of this term with a vengeance!
OK, now for a few photos of my own… I know I’ve taken more, but I’ll have to do some digging. The above blog should pretty much cover all the artisan-ness you need, though.
I snapped this one just the other day. Not only is this made by artisans, but it's made with ANCIENT GRAINS! What the hell does that even mean?
Ohhh, artisan stuffing! And what's with that logo? Looks like it was scrawled by someone's two-year-old.
Which part is artisan: the cheese or the cracker? We'll never know!
I think this was the first "artisan" product I saw at the grocery store. You know it's bad when I gotta have a picture of it...