When I travel, I love to observe the local food culture, to see how things differ from home, and what we can learn from eating habits in foreign destinations. On a recent trip to Finland, there are definitely some learning points for us North Americans as to what constitutes a ‘healthy’ diet.
The main message I got from Finnish food culture is: Organic is the rule, not the exception!
Imagine my joy and pleasure to dig into a cornucopia of organic eggs, organic porridge, organic bread, organic veggies, and a sliver of wild salmon – and that was just breakfast! When I exclaimed to the server how great it was that these foods were organic, she replied – ‘Naturally.’ Indeed. What a different taste experience it is to enjoy organically produced food!
Perusing a travel guide, I learned that home cooking is so revered that Finland has a Restaurant Day four times a year, where anyone can turn their own home into a restaurant – neat idea! What a great way to promote home cooking, exchange recipes, and generate a sense of community with healthy eating.
In terms of food choices, Finns love their fiber – rye bread predominates, from breakfast to lunch to even snacking (pictured below are rye bread crisps):
While fish is enjoyed by Finns, so are lean red meats like reindeer – I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you think you’d be able to nosh on Rudolph or not.
And while tap water is drinkable in most European countries, Helsinki’s tap water is so clean that it is bottled and sold to countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The proof of the benefits of Finnish food culture is in the numbers, with obesity rates being about half that of the USA.