A few days ago we bought some bread. Now there is nothing unusual in that, I love bread, and don’t have the time to bake my own nearly as often as I’d like to, which generally leads to buying some.
What was a bit unusual was the marketing term that was so proudly displayed all over the breads packaging:
‘Artisan Inspired Bread’
It’s one of those utterly bizarre terms that actually means absolutely nothing. Being inspired by an artisan doesn’t mean that you bake like one, any more than being inspired by Miles Davis suddenly makes you musically gifted. ‘Artisan baked bread’ would definitely inspire me more to buy it.
Not that this particular term is any worse than a plethora of others though, the most prolific offender obviously being ‘Organic’, or it’s frequently cropping up cousin ‘Natural’.
Now, I’m not saying that organic food can’t be a good thing for all number of reasons, but it doesn’t have to be. The term ‘Organic’ without any further clarifying information doesn’t actually mean all that much about the quality of the food you are getting.
My wife’s grandmother grows what she thinks of as organic vegetables on her allotment, she is very proud of the fact that she doesn’t use any chemicals fertilisers or pesticides on them, and makes a big point of letting you know about it. She doesn’t mention or even seem to think that it is vaguely important that her allotment is about 500 metres away from one of the biggest chemical factories in Central Europe. They could very accurately be described as being organically grown, but I’d rather not eat them if I have any option!
It’s been pointed out to me that in most of Europe, the USA and Japan, foods that are produced and sold commercially must meet strict conditions in order to label themselves as organic. As far as I’m aware, foods labelled as ‘Natural’ have no such criteria to meet, and this really is a completely nonsense term.
The fact is that I actually buy quite a lot of organic foods, but it is not my only criteria when selecting them. Seasonality, sustainability and local production are just as, or more, important to me. There are a huge number of variables that aren’t covered by organic certification, and it’s quite possible that a good grass fed free range cow will produce a better beef than anything organic in the same butchers shop.
There are fantastic organic foods out there, that are full of taste and nutritionally brilliant, and then there are some that are less great, that are produced without passion or care for the end product, but simply because the producer realises that he can charge a huge premium if he does the things necessary to reach the certification.