The Artistry of Artisan Organic Foods

“Here in western Massachusetts, we are blessed,” says Mark Lattanzi.

He’s referring to the bountiful food:

  • The dedicated farmers who grow organic crops.
  • The organic cider produced by West County Cider in the town of Colrain, which has received national media attention.
  • The rosemary, eight-grain, rye and country breads made from organic flours at El Jardin Bakery, an artisan baker in an inner-city Latino neighborhood, which operates as a community-development project and small-business training program.
  • The old-time, traditional pickle maker who produces delectably fermented cucumbers, sauerkraut and kimchee.

As campaign director for the South Deerfield-based Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, a regional local-foods campaign, Lattanzi is well versed in the artistry of artisan foods.

“Artisan-created foods like farmstead cheeses, hard ciders and wood-fired bread, among many, are created by hand, in small batches, by people who often grow the ingredients themselves,” Lattanzi tells “They raise the cows, milk them and make the cheese. They plant the apple trees, tend them, harvest the apples and make the cider. These thoughtfully created items contain the unique taste of the place they were made. A cheese from western Massachusetts is not going to taste like a cheese from Iowa or France or Italy. I think that consumers who appreciate unique and complex flavors gravitate toward artisan foods.”

Superior taste is, indeed, what distinguishes organic artisan foods from their mass-market counterparts. Artisans are committed to using the finest ingredients in the world, such as organic balsamic vinegar and sheep’s-milk Pecorino Romano cheese from Italy, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic ginger puree from Kauai, according to John Troy, the CEO and “organic taste wizard” at The Wizard’s Cauldron, Ltd., an organic micro-saucery headquartered in Yanceyville, North Carolina.

“It begins with heirloom seeds, fertile soil, conscious handling, and processing without the use of manufacturing aids and chemicals,” Troy tells “Herbs and spices are not fumigated or irradiated-no shortcuts. When the finished product is a sauce or dressing, it means the design or formulation is done with good taste in mind, without the use of artificial preservatives or flavors. The product is treated in a way that respects the wholesome ingredients and packaged with care.”

But the concept goes beyond taste for many shoppers, who recognize that multinational corporations have hijacked our food supply, pumping it full of chemicals, fats and sugars-all of which contribute to skyrocketing obesity rates and impaired health. Consumers-particularly those who live an organic lifestyle-are taking back the nutritional and environmental streets, choosing to support individual food producers and small-scale collectives that promote sustainable living.

“The human touch is being removed from many of our food products,” Lattanzi says. “Artisan products bring that touch back. Eating is an intimate act. We take something that someone else grew or created and put it inside our bodies. Artisan foods connect the consumer to the producer through the consumption of an authentic product.”

Combine that authenticity with a pledge to use only certified organic ingredients, and you have a magnificent, eco-conscious treat for the taste buds, unmatched by anything you’ll find in a traditional market.

“Organic certification is the only verifiable seal of food purity on the market today,” Troy asserts. “That means verified with an audit trail not only to the soil in which it is grown, but the integrity of the DNA code of the seed, as well. Organic artisan products cost more because they are more-much, much more!”

You can find organic artisan foods at your local farmer’s market. To locate a certified farmer’s market in your area, visit the North American Farmer’s Market Coalition.

image: LCBGlenn