Foodie. Artisan. Hipster. While these overused expressions make some people cringe, they actually belong to a specialized craft movement referred to as “artisanal”—a movement responsible for shaping and growing a culture of small businesses focused on sustainability, ethics, and health.
What is the actual definition of "artisanal"?
According to Civil Eats, artisanal foods are “based in craft, community, tradition, and innovation …” Artisanal products often have regional or familial history and are crafted by thoughtful purveyors using local and sustainable resources. Most importantly, these goods display an art—possibly a lost art or a modern tradition.
Communities around the country embrace and support the artisanal movement. One organization, Buy Connecticut Grown, not only connects consumers with local Connecticut goods, but also encourages them to experience the agricultural pulse of their state. Each product they represent tells a personal story, usually one with deep historical roots.
Here in the Tetons, we are lucky to be surrounded by true artisans. Winter Winds Farm, a small goat cheese purveyor who recently achieved USDA certification, is expanding their operation to distribute over state lines. Farmer Nathan Ray, a chef by trade, fell in love with small dairies while working on a goat farm in Oregon. He aimed to revive the lost Teton Valley tradition of goat rearing and crafting handmade fresh and aged cheeses.
Persephone Boulangerie and Café in Jackson employs old world fermentation techniques when baking their rustic breads. They first create a natural culture made from wild yeast, and then bake their bread in a high-heat, stone hearth. This process yields the complex texture of a caramelized crust and a full-bodied, roasted grain flavor. All their pastries are hand-formed, influenced heavily by French techniques, and contain only the finest ingredients
Organizations like Slow Foods of the Tetons raise awareness for local products like these and link consumers to the source with their Regional Food Guide—thus furthering small business growth and expansion.
You see, this movement wasn’t birthed solely so that we could sling around catchy phrases to look distinguished. The resurgence of the skillful art involved in handmade goods (cheeses, pickles, chocolates, beer, etc.) has brought back a human element and thoughtfulness to consumerism. It has allowed us a new level of connectedness and transparency with our food. And it’s just plain nice to know the people who make it and the pastures that support it.