The Newest Food Buzzword You're Too Smart to Fall For

artisan bakerBy now we're all wise to the fact that food companies like to toss out buzzwords like "Green" or "All-Natural" even though they don't technically mean anything. While terms like these imply that the food is better for you because it's made with pesticide- or cruelty-free products, this isn't always precisely the case. It's not "lying" exactly, but still we've learned to be wary of products that contain these hollow words.

There's a new food buzzword that has been sneaking onto food packages lately that should make us just as skeptical. And that word is: "Artisan." Just hearing it conjures up images of delicious, good-for-you food that's been lovingly handmade by a smiling local baker or cheese maker, right? Eh, not so fast.

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In case you haven't noticed, "artisan" has been showing up on many food labels recently. Starbucks has Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches. Tostitos has Artisan Recipes Chips. Fannie May is rolling out hand-painted Artisan chocolates. 1-800-Flowers is considering new artisan popcorn. Of course, you can't forget about Domino's Artisan Pizza (which I made fun of here in length). And there are others, too.

Now, it could be that these huge food companies are employing people who make or craft food manually -- and, thus, have earned the right to label their product "artisan." But the fact of the matter is, at least for now, we'll never know for sure. That's because "artisan" is not a legally standardized term. Foods that are labeled, say, "organic" must adhere to strict standards set forth by the government. But there aren't guidelines yet for "artisan." Companies can use it willy-nilly. So, what you see might not always be what you get.

One thing you can expect from artisan products? A higher price tag across the board. But as long as you know that what you are paying for is the image of a smiling baker who knows you by name and not necessarily a higher-end product, you won't have a problem with that.

 

Image via Beckmann's Old World Bakery/Flickr

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