Sunday, September 2, 2012

Artisanal, shmartisanal

   Quiznos now serves a "handcrafted" sandwich on "artisanal" bread.  Is there any more incentive to avoid using those terms?  We have known for some time that this was coming, large companies always come late to the party dressed to blend in with the cool kids, but now we see this has happened in the cider world too.  Woodchuck Cider has a product built seemingly around the words: "handcrafted", "artisanal", "farmhouse"  and "made in small batches." Coors and Miller have done the same. (And BTW, I tried that Vermont brand... OMG, it's sugary- I actually prefer their original 6-pack cider.)  But this brings me to my inquiry:  Are these companies trying to devalue our accomplishments by taking the power out of the true word meanings, or are they just trying to cash in on the trend?   I'd love to have sat in on that Quiznos board meeting.
   Let me say, as someone who's background is in art, as someone not interested in making 'real' money off of cider, as someone free to experiment and explore the craft, and as someone 100% engaged in my ciders -from fruit selection, to tree planting, orchard maintenance, milling, pressing, fermenting, aging, blending, and bottling, labeling, marketing, etc. (all truly by my hand, btw) - I can swear to you: art and business don't mix. They seek opposite horizons.  And although business people will never admit this, true artists unanimously agree, talent is not transferable.  Business might be it's own art, but it's the opposite of the art itself.     
   I commend the businesses that are trying to save farms and farmland.  I commend the farms that want to feed the world.   I commend the farms and businesses that are employing people and keeping the local economies afloat.  Those are all very honorable and good reasons to farm and make cider.  But that's not what I'm doing.  I am making art, and if that's not reason enough then there is no place for me.  Personally, I think I'm doing the world a service too, but it's art first-and-foremost.  Customers have to first prioritize this if they truly want artisanal cider, and farmers have to go toward art, not business, if they want to learn how to make artisanal products.
   And, no, I don't appreciate wolves dressing up like artists or the masses faining support, but that's always been the case with art.  That's why trends migrate, because artists can't stand insincerity.  I, personally, don't posses the self-confidence to feel genuine and excited by my craft when it's saturated by those numbers.  Maybe that's what Woodchuck wants, for us to get out?  Whatever is going on, it's definately time for true artists to find a new underworld because it sure isn't artisanal foods.  But I'll try to stick it out.  Maybe I'll learn to thrive under the lights, or - more likely - the trend will pass.