Introducing Artisan Bread, Cheese and Wine

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• by Sylvia Burgos • The aim of this project is to explore the links between artisan breads, cheeses and wines and issues like our local environment, eating seasonally, the barriers and opportunities to these artisan businesses. We’ll take a look at how these foods are affected by national policy, like the Farm Bill. We’ll also look at how these foods reflect and affect our culture.

As the TC Daily Planet begins publication of Sylvia Burgos’s blog, we look back to her initial blog post for an introduction.

Artisan Bread, Cheese and Wine is a blog and podcast about:
• The products and the people that make them,
• Traditions and emerging trends, and
• The many ways these foods reflect our values.

There’s lots to talk about, and I want to hear from you. Who should I interview? What issues are important to you? Let me know.

First, a disclaimer. I am an amateur baker, and ardent lover of handcrafted cheeses, and great admirer of boutique wine. I’ve been in the field of communications for over 30 years, some of that time spent in the organic foods industry. I do not work in the foods business now. And I do not – repeat – do not – represent any of the producers or retailers referred to on this site.

Years ago, I worked with several of the national and regional producer and certifier organizations, and even helped develop some of the testimony that argued for the Organic Food Act of 1990. Shortly after, I served as communications director for a small non-profit that promoted organic farming within several Midwestern states, that increased shelf space for organics at large conventional retailers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul (MN) area, and worked to boost consumer demand in the metro.

Today, I’m one of the growing number of people across the country who want to promote a greater appreciation and demand for locally-produced, artisan foods because of what they mean to our culture, our economies, our environment, the quality of our meals and family time around the table.

This blog and podcast are dedicated to the idea that our nation – this generation – must strengthen the values of eating well, and eating thoughtfully as families and as a society.

This blog is for growers and processors, and all of us who want to get more of these items on our tables. Which business and individuals are making important contributions? Who is making the best? Are there farms and manufacturers to visit, stores to wander through or authors to interview? Let’s talk!

Tell others about this blog: cut-and-paste url www.artisanbreadcheeseandwine.com and e-mail to friends. I’d love to see some real conversations about these foods and their impacts on our meals and lives.

This blog will soon have a companion podcast about recipes and retailers, growers and processors, issues and impacts. I will interview farmers and authors, experts and amatuers from the Midwest and across the country. Keep an eye open for it.

Till then enjoy these photos taken at a Nov. 10th joint meeting of the St. Paul Bread Club and Minnesota Slow Food (both in the Minneapolis, St. Paul metro area). Hint: the best way to view these photos is by tapping the “slides” option.
This meeting was hosted by The St. Agnes Baking Co., a commercial producer of hearth breads and a great promoter of artisan foods. The bakery is a staunch advocate for sourdough breads, and offers its space and ovens to the St. Paul Bread Club on a quarterly, or more frequent, basis. The efforts at the Nov. meeting used the commercial equipment to make and bake the dough for dozens of hand-tossed pizzas. Slow Food MN members provided a wide variety of toppings — from sausage and tomatoes, to onion and pear, spinach to bleu cheese. Outstanding.

To learn more about the St. Paul Bread Club, go to www.spbc.info. For more about the Slow Food Minnesota, visit www.slowfoodmn.org.

To get the blog rolling, let me ask you: How do you define artisan foods, especially bread, cheese and wine? What do you look for? What are your criteria?

As you think about this, you may want to visit the the website of The Spendid Table, and check out its Dec. 1 broadcast which included an interview about what to look for in cheeses. The Splendid Table is a weekly, hour-long radio show hosted by cookbook author and food writer Lynn Rosetto-Kasper. You can get the full show as a podcast by visiting The Splendid Table.
Till next time: eat well.
Sylvia