The rise and rise of artisanal food

Traditional recipes and methods of cooking are back in vogue. Producers say they are healthy, sustainable and personalised

From fabrics to furniture, the demand for artisanal products is on the rise. And artisanal food is no exception. 

Unlike mainstream and mass-produced products, artisanal products are unique. They are made with hands, using traditional methods, and in limited quantities.

Likewise, artisanal food is made using traditional recipes, which do not feature preservatives, colorants, sweeteners, thickeners, or chemicals and which is why they are considered healthy. 

Metrolife finds out everything one needs to know about this ‘authentic’ and ‘conscious’ food trend.

Vocal for local

Artisanal foods are usually handmade and follow traditional methods of cooking. They support the farm-to-fork model in that they make use of products sourced from local and small-scale farmers, says Shwetha Rajashekar, COO, India Sweet House.

A faceless corporation churning out products by the millions does not appeal to urban consumers anymore. “Buyers have all the information at their fingertips. Farmers have become digitally savvy. As a result, most consumers can now see the impact their purchase has on a local economy,” she adds. 

Pandemic made them popular

The movement to support local producers started a decade ago but has caught on with gusto since the pandemic broke out, she says. 

Lincoln Bennet Rodrigues, founder of Artisan Deli, agrees. “Since artisanal foods are prepared hygienically and stored and packaged well, they have become the need of the hour now,” he talks about how the pandemic has changed the consumer perception about food safety forever. 

Plus, people are wary about consuming processed food more than before, he goes on to add.

“The health benefits of artisanal food products are many. They are a high source of calcium, protein, and vitamin. They can reverse hypertension by lowering blood pressure. They provide essential healthy fat. They help in building muscles. They benefit the immune system. They are good for the thyroid health,” he explains

Among a long list of artisanal foods, bread, cheeses, fruit preserves, cured meats, cold cuts, beverages, oils, and vinegar are quite popular. 

They are affordable, accessible

Teja Chekuri, managing partner of Ironhill India, says consumers are losing interest in run-of-the-mill products available on the shelves.

“Most consumers want something that is unique and that caters to their senses in a more intimate way. Artisanal food provides that experience,” he adds. 

Artisanal food was thought to be a ‘thing of the elite’ till some time ago but now, consumers know what constitutes artisan food and beverages and where to get them from.

“Today, many entrepreneurs have entered the industry with a desire to preserve the ‘slow method of cooking’. Hence, there is an obvious shift in affordability and accessibility of these products,” he explains. 

What do artisans do?

Most artisans are conscious of the quality they put out. An artisan will always be on the lookout of traditional recipes that will appeal to their patrons. Most also take the effort to learn the recipe from the masters before replicating it with their own twist, says Shwetha.

How do you identify artisanal food?

An artisan product has three definite hallmarks. It adheres to traditional processes, recipes and quality.

How do you become an artisan producer?

There are a lot of smaller communities that are working towards preserving our rich food history. Identify one that resonates with you and work with them as a producer.