Tag Archives: media

Don’t Mourn the Death of “Artisan”

It seems like Mass media has finally figured out that “artisan” is an unregulated, practically meaningless term. I guess Jack in the Box, Dominos, and Tostitos have a way of really taking the romance out of a word.

Time magazine, sensing that people are actually reading about food these days, has had two short pieces on “artisan” in the last 6 months: “Wanna Help Sell a Food Product? Toss in the Word ‘Artisan’” and
The “Artisan” Hoax: Has That Word Become Meaningless?

See also 2 minutes in to this video on the Daily Show

(Hmmm, the embed is not working for some reason. Here’s a link)

I consider myself an original hater of the word “artisan.” Though I will admit to using it occasionally – usually to appease a customer who is fixated on the term – it has always rubbed me the wrong way. Yes, even when I was a board member for the California Artisan Cheese Guild it annoyed me. One of the reviews of Cheesemonger that I was most proud of cited my “picking apart” of the term “artisan” as “delicious”. I won’t repeat what I’ve already written about both the flaws of using unregulated terms and the irony of hearkening back to pre-industrial times as the good old days, but – as with anything in our economic system – words like this will always be co-opted as soon as Big Food starts losing market share.

In the natural foods world, many small companies became hugely successful creating products in opposition to the processed foods that dominate U.S. supermarkets. Now, of course, many of those companies are owned by the huge corporations* that also make that processed food. Also, increasingly the “artisan” American cheese companies that helped bring us the cheese revolution of the last twenty years are being bought by larger European companies.**

Which doesn’t mean that things are hopeless for people wanting to make hand-crafted, high quality cheese. “Artisan” is just a word and an obfuscating one at best. I’ve always thought that in many ways the microbrew, craft beer model is more applicable to cheese*** than the wine business model, and Big Beer tried to do all sorts of fake micro-brews but the small beer business is solid.****. Once people taste handcrafted, well-made, well-aged cheese, they are hard to fool with imposters.

Really, in the end, the taste speaks for itself. We don’t need words like “artisan” when we have actual quality.

*2009 chart here:OrganicT30J09
**I think this is preferable to those companies closing up shop, for the record. But, can you say a product is local if its owned by the French? For that matter, are you buying local if you shop at a chain grocery store owned in another state? I say the answer to both these questions is “no”.
***It is a shame that for obvious reasons cheese cannot — like small brewers –adopt “craft” as a term to describe itself.
****Timely article alert! I saw this after I wrote this post.

On the radio

Hey, I was on the radio.

It was a pretty short interview — I spent more time on hold listen to morons on another show talk about how Obama is a communist than actually talking – but it was fun.

It was on “An Organic Conversation” and you can check it out here:


http://www.anorganicconversation.com/2175/milk/”>Stream from website

Rainbow in the news again

Now Channel 5 thinks our coupons are newsworthy!

Best part is our Rainbow person plugging my book while talking about the cheese department.

Otherwise there are some factual inaccuracies (we started the coupons originally because we were trying to make the weekends less crowded, not because we were having hard times), and it would have been nice to hear the word “cooperative”. But you can’t get mad at free publicity.

Rainbow in the Chron

Ha! Awesome and big front page article on our crazy coupon days. Coupon days will be even more insane now. For non-coupon shoppers, I can wholeheartedly recommend Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays for calm, peaceful shopping. It’s like going back in time a decade on those days cuz everyone is coming Wednesdays and Thursdays.

This is my favorite picture. Both Stagey and I independently thought of those old Mervyn’s ads.

“Open… open… open…”

Next year will be different so enjoy the insanity until October when the coupons end. Hey, since I’m doing an ad anyway, we’re having a customer appreciation day today. 3-6 there will be giveaways, Rainbow bands, and other stuff. It’s at the 13th St. entrance (My total pet peeve is my co-workers who insist on calling it “Division”. Especially on the website. Grrrrrr.)

And don’t forget: closed on Pride, open on July 4.