Form & Function
Handcrafted Food As Art
Art, like food, is personal and extremely powerful. When we discuss art, we inevitably talk about taste, a word that leads us right back into the realm of food and flavor.
The traditional definitions of art and craft have been broadening over the past few years, partly in response to the creativity and skill artisans are bringing to the table. Literally.
What was once exclusively the domain of farmers markets and roadside stands has evolved into an inspiring industry of its own: artisan food. Gardeners, farmers, chefs, hobbyists and entrepreneurs are perfecting their recipes and techniques to create products that feel at home at a craft show and a grocer.
The growth of artisan food makers across the country has been encouraged by the evolution of new support systems. In Greenville, this includes more retailers interested in carrying local products and the increasing availability of commercial kitchens for rent. Imagine Kitchen, Naked Kitchen and the Old Mill Shared Kitchen each rent space to entrepreneurs, bridging the gap between home-based food businesses and full-blown production kitchens. Within six months, eight food makers joined Imagine Kitchen’s state of the art facility, and there’s plenty of room for more.
Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery, the cornerstone of local food enthusiasm in Greenville, also just completed a major expansion to their store. Owner Mary Walsh says “Since we opened five years ago, we’ve seen a major increase in the amount of cool, fun and tasty artisan food products that come to the market, especially Southern ones. It feels like we bring in a new product from a small-scale maker at least once a week, which is pretty impressive for a small market like ours.”
Today’s food entrepreneurs not only experience the benefit of farmers markets and these new resources, they have the power of the internet on their side. This makes it even more important for them to invest in quality branding and packaging so they can stand out online and on the shelves.
While mainstream brands have begun to co-opt the word artisan, its true meaning implies both craft and story. Here are just three of the stories behind the products.