Friday, March 19, 2010

Terminology: "Artisan"

The word "artisan" is often used to describe some steak, beef and other food. But what exactly does it mean?

There is no legal defintion of "artisan" in the United States. Neither the United States Department of Agriculture nor any other federal or state authority has defined the word or regulates its use.

However, most steak consumers do not know that the word has no legal meaning. They assume that a steak with an artisan label means that the steak has been produced and butchered by a highly skilled indivual craftsman. But this is wrong. The artisan label has no legal meaning.

Seak vendors often intentionally misuse the artisan label. As a result, steak consumers should place little importance on the artisan label itself. Instead, steak consumers should look beyond the label to determine exactly how the steak was actually produced and butchered. It is up to the consumer to determine if the steak meets a meaningful definition of artisan.

Although the word "artisan" has no legal meaning, its general, non-legal, dictionary meaning is a skilled manual worker who uses tools and machinery in a particular craft.

As applied to steak, the word means the following:
Please review and update these definitions. Post a comment below or email us.
Artisan farmer means a family farmer, who owns the farm and who cares personally for the livestock and/or crops raised on the farm.

Artisan farm means a farm owned by an artisan farmer to raise artisan livestock and/or crops.

Artisan cattle means cattle raised by an artisan farmer on an artisan farm.

Artisan beef means beef which comes from artisan cattle and which is slaughtered and processed by an artisan beef processor.

Artisan beef processor means a skilled beef processor, who owns the slaughterhouse and processing facility and who personally processes artisan cattle.

Artisan beef slaughterhouse and processing facility means a slaughterhouse and processing facility owned by an artisan beef processor to slaughter and process artisan beef.

Artisan beef butcher means a skilled butcher who personally butchers artisan beef.

Artisan steak means steak which is cut by an artisan butcher from artisan beef.

Carrie Oliver founded The Artisan Beef Institute, whose website has more information about the meaning of Artisan Beef. She has written the Artisan Beef Institute Cheat Sheet, which describes preferred attributes of artisan beef, including the identity and location of the farm, cattle breed, cattle feeding history, etc. She also defines artisan cattle as having received no preventative antibiotics, no artifical hormones and a high-quality, all-vegetable diet.

Again, please give us your thoughts and comments on these definitions.

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