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Artisanal food encompasses breads, cheeses, fruit preserves, cured meats, beverages, oils, and vinegars that are made by hand using traditional methods by skilled craftworkers, known as food artisans. The foodstuff material from farmers and backyard growers can include fruit, grains and flours, milks for cheese, cured meats, fish, beverages, oils, and vinegars. The movement is focused on providing farm to fork type foods with locally sourced products that benefit the consumer, small scale growers and producers, and the local economy.
Food artisans produce foods and edible foodstuffs that are not mass produced, but rather made by hand. These include cheeses, breads and baked goods, charcuterie and other foods that involve preservation or fermentation, home preservation or canning processes, and fruit preserves, cured meats, beverages, oils, and vinegars. Fermentation or otherwise controlling the preservation environment for beneficial microorganisms can be utilized for vinegars, cheeses, cured meats, wine, oolong tea, kimchi and other examples. An artisan food item is usually developed and produced over a long period of time and consumed relatively close to where the food is created.
In 2009, the Food Safety Enhancement Act was proposed and passed the House of Representatives, but did not pass. The measure was renegotiated and became known as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On 4 January 2011, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced two amendments to the FSMA that removed local food growers and food processors from federal oversight. These growers and producers would remain under the jurisdiction of state and local health and sanitation laws, rules, and regulations.
As of 2016, there was not a published official standard or definition for artisan foods. A good working definition can be gleaned from the Tester-Hagen Amendment that stated artisanal food producers are constrained to: "make less than $500,000 a year and sell greater than 50% of their products direct to consumers in the same state and within a 400-mile radius".
The advertising and marketing industries have latched on to the trendy word "artisanal" and now have artisanal products on supermarket shelves and offerings from local fast food chains. Dunkin' Donuts came out with an "artisanal" bagel, Domino's Pizza dished out an "artisanal" pizza, Tostitos served up "artisanal" chips, McDonald's offered an "artisan" bun, Wendy's introduced an "artisan" egg sandwich, and Subway provided "sandwich artisans" to prepare lunch.
Points of distribution
Farmers' markets, either temporary or permanent, are a tremendous resource for consumers to procure artisanal foods. They exist in many communities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and throughout the European Union countries.
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