Craft is a word that has long been a noun and a verb. One worked on one’s craft, and a craftsman crafts various objects. In recent years though, it has become commonly used as an adjective, particularly to refer to craft beer. Whatever your feelings about craft beer (either pretentious, over-priced, bitter stuff, or refreshing, lovingly-crafted independent alternative to the big breweries’ fare), it’s hard to deny that it’s become quite popular. And now it’s quite common to find many other craft food and drinks.
Why have craft food and drinks taken off so? We’ve always had independently-created fare. People are now much more conscious of where their food comes from, how it’s made, and how healthy it is. And we’re more concerned about how ethical our food and drink are, in terms of affecting the environment. So there has been something of a move away from processed goods.
But I think the word craft has helped too. We’ve long described independently-produced food and drink as artisanal. And in this context, artisanal means the same as craft. Both refer to not simply making things, but making things with a high degree of skill, or even artistry. But I think the two words have quite different connotations. If you hear the word artisanal, you might think that it describes something expensive, pretentious, and maybe not so tasty. It’s a word that can put people off.
But craft, that’s a simpler, less loaded word. It might make you think of something produced by a honest, hard-working craftsman, labouring hard to produce simple, honest, fare. If you took the same beer, and put it in two different bottles, proclaiming it either as artisanal beer or craft beer, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more popular as craft beer. It goes to show the power of words, and how two words with similar strictly literal meanings can have such different connotations.
Man, I’m thirsty now…