Every so often a word hits a new found popularity. For some reason, these buzz-words often annoy me. I guess it's the overuse, or the attempt to fool the public. One of my recent peeves is the use of the word "Artisan". Everything is "Artisan" today from cheese and shoes, to salads and handbags. I guess "homemade" has been stolen by convenience stores and restaurants, and "gourmet" has lost it's glimmer. Sellers needed a new way to say, "You don't know how to make this". We must be slipping. The mass printed "Artisan" label on the plastic container in a big box store should rule out any chance of a master craftsman working behind the scenes!
My wife and I were discussing my dislike for the word. I gave an example.."Romaine lettuce is a particular strain of lettuce. An artisan salad is a couple of lettuces and maybe some radicchio (chickory) tossed in. Therefore, we can assume that since "Scout the Wonderdog" is not a purebred or registered, he is an "Artisan Dog". An eclectic mix of dog breeds that has produced the special, one of a kind mutt he is"!
Don't get me wrong. If it didn't work, marketers wouldn't use it. So, why as a farmer, don't I use it? I select the particular type of cow I want, then breed it to a bull with traits and characteristics I would like in my calves. At birth the calves are checked on, doctored, and cared for. Seed is sown and fertilizer is applied to ensure the calf eats only grass that is good for growth and health. Meanwhile, I harvest corn that has had the same care taken to produce good feed. This is followed by months of grinding and mixing oats, hay, corn and specific proteins into feed to produce a well marbled beef calf with a large rib-eye area genetically passed down from his fathers side. Sounds pretty artistic to me.
As I contemplated my disdain for the word, I considered using it everywhere, just to prove a point. Scout eyed me suspiciously for fear of being called the "Scout the Artisan Dog". It soon became obvious that this is what bothered me in the first place. If I had "Lettuce with Radicchio" from the produce section, and liked it, I would buy it again. I would also know that radicchio helps make a dang tasty salad. Trying to place a veil of secret superiority on it buy calling it "Artisan", has just made it a mystery salad.
Instead, I will continue to produce beef marketed as... well... Beef! American farmers and ranchers have been producing safe and delicious beef for a century or more. To cloud it with mystery marketing would be wrong. So have your artisan salad with radicchio, and have your beef with the confidence that it is flat out honest protein, vitamins, and minerals all wrapped up in a tasty, juicy, grill sizzling form that cannot be duplicated. OK, now I am hungry. Beef, non-artisan, it's what's for dinner!
(as an addendum to this post, please note that the word is pronounced (ar-ti-zen), not (ar-tee-zhun). Artesian wells were made famous by beer manufacturers in the 70's. If we hear you miss-pronounce it, we will know where you learned the word!)