In an article by Jillian Eugenios, she asks the question, “Does ‘artisanal’ even mean anything anymore?”. (http://bites.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/02/11503731-does-artisanal-even-mean-anything-anymore). It is in reference to a lawsuit filed against Dunkin Donuts and their new ‘artisan’ line of bagels. The lawsuit claims that this term should be limited to “products produced by hand, using traditional methods in small quantities”. My guess is that each Dunkin Donuts shop is not hand making bagels in the back of the store.
However, if I indeed want bagels made by hand in small batches, I will go to a family owned bakery. The term ‘artisinal’ in of itself, will not drive my purchase. My other guess is that the DD ‘artisanal’ bagels are probably pretty good. And if they were called by another name, say ‘really good bagels’ , they would still be pretty good bagels, regardless of the name.
And who is to decide what is ‘artisinal’? If a chain of family owned bagel shops makes bagels in the back of each store, can they call that artisanal? What if they centralize production to reduce costs and improve quality by making these same bagels in one location and then distributing them to the other shops…is this still ‘artisinal’? We have the same issue with term ‘organic’, and there are actually federal rules on what is considered, ‘organic’.
At this point, ‘artisanal’ is destined to become the new ‘natural’, or the new ‘gourmet’. We probably should spend more time on finding that quality product we like, or establishments we choose to buy from, rather than on what we call it.