The artisanal craze that has surfaced over the past few years works as a part-time genius and a part-time annoyance. Yes, it’s wonderful and exciting that we can have a perfectly-crafted cup of coffee that slowly drips its’ way into our hearts from the purposeful hands of a knowledgeable coffee connoisseur. But why should we prefer that over going through a quick (and cheap) coffee drive-thru?
Don’t get me wrong, I am just as intoxicated by this artisanal trend as everyone else. I will be the first in line at the newest small-batch bakery in my charmingly antiquated neighborhood, but one has to wonder after spending five dollars on the tiniest (albeit most delicious) bran muffin of your life, is it really worth it? Or is this just a huge ruse we’ve all fallen for? We may never know the answer to those particular questions, but it isn’t just about how trendy it is to put so much care into something we eat or use. Strangely enough, the economy plays a part in this equation. A growing artisanal trend in every 20-something’s favorite food group, pizza, is doing a surprising amount of good for an otherwise sluggish industry— anthracite coal mining.
Coal used to be a huge source of energy, as we all know from history class. But today, it’s not quite the same. The Smithsonian said that we are producing much, much less anthracite coal today than we did nearly 100 years ago (think 100 million pounds in 1917 versus 2.5 million pounds in 2014), despite the fact that half of all of the United States’ energy comes from the bituminous version of the folkloric black chalky stuff we were fearful would end up in our Christmas stockings.
Rather than being scared of receiving it as a gift, now we are using it to heat ovens for delicious pizza. Chief executive Greg Driscoll of the Blaschak Coal Corp told Bloomberg News though it’s only 4% of the market for anthracite, artisanal pizza is growing faster than any other use of this particular kind of coal. So coal-cooked pizza lovers, you’re helping out an industry that needs some love, and being hip at the same time. Who knew economics was so trendy?