The New Nordic Diet Fad

This is a response to an article I read about the new ‘Nordic Diet’ fad that will likely hits stores near you.

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http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/say-hello-to-the-nordic-diet-a-traditional-scandinavian-style-of-eating/story-fneuzkvr-1227012485627

Nordic Diet? Yeah, right. They’ve just picked out some things Nordic people eat, and say that’s how to get skinny.  Pick and mixing is not a proper diet.

The meats

The article doesn’t mention that seal, whale and horse meat have always been a vital part of the Nordic diet and is highly nutritious. Why didn’t they add them in? PC.  When they mention ‘high quality meat’ readers likely thought of expensive cuts of cow, not wild meat that feed freely from the land and waters, that aren’t kept in a pen, and are not forced into abusive breeding practices.

The article uses the word ‘elk’, by which they mean moose (an entirely different animal from the American elk), a meat that is solely obtained through hunting.  The article does not clarify this because hunting would offend a lot of their readers and the new Nordic Diet would become PinC.

Processed cold meats full of fat and salt have been part of the staple diet for centuries.  However, the processing methods of today have known cancer causing agents.  Smoked meats are now gassed instead of being left to hang in a smoker.

The fishes

The article doesn’t mention that the bulk of oily fish nowadays comes from poop infested fish farms that are destroying the natural environment and wild salmon populations.  The escaped farmed salmon are now breeding with the wild salmon spreading disease and weakening the salmon gene pool.  They don’t mention that in the dark season Nordic peoples eat large amounts of processed fish (frozen, souped, crumbed, salted, pickled or smoked), therefore the nutrition value is compromised.  The main wild fish available natively in winter is halibut, cod, herring and occasionally sea trout.  These are only occasionally eaten fresh.

The Fruits and Vegetables

Nordic people eat natural berries that they pick themselves in the wilderness only from July to September. These berries are much higher in nutrients than berries elsewhere in the world because of the colder summer conditions slowing the growth and increasing the nutritional density.  Eating factory-farmed berries, as suggested by the article, does not compare in nutrition. You can’t just say ‘well, Nordics eat berries and are healthy so we should eat berries too.’ Nordics eat Nordic berries. There is a big difference.

For six months of the year the Nordic countries are covered in darkness and ice. Fresh food has to be imported from places like Africa and South America – basically everything fruit and veg, even berries, rake up a bucket load of footprint miles, are old or stored in cold for months to a year and have lost a lot of their freshness and nutrients.

The Grains

Rye bread was a feature grain in the article and I think they are confusing bread with the cracker.  The ‘rye bread’ contains a very low amount of rye – it is basically used as a colouring.  However, rye cracker bread is very popular as it is made from pure rye and can keep for years!  The article also mentions wholegrains, which Nordics do choose over refined flours, however, modern wheat has no relation to the traditional Nordic grains.  White rice is a staple food, and unhealthy.  In fact, in Norway it has been a tradition to have white rice pudding as a Saturday lunchtime meal.

Dairy and Oils

Nordic people do not use canola oil which is Canadian as mentioned in the article.  They use rapeseed oil.  Canola oil is highly processed, boiled and bleached, and a modified plant stuff.  Rapeseed oil isn’t.  There was no mention of the heavy dairy in the Nordic diet from all the milk rice puddings (which is a weekly tradition), cream cakes, and hard cheeses (a daily tradition).  Dairy is an essential part of a health Nordic diet, it is not about the calcium but the protein and the iron.  Especially in the cold dark months the body needs iron to help with oxygen intake and for cells to more efficiently convert energy.  If native animals were scarce in winter, milk and butter from cows, goats and sheep provided the nutrients to last the dark and cold.

 The Sweets

Sugar has been essential from the 1800s, a preservative, providing energy for the cold, not to mention the heavy alcohol intake since the Viking Age. Also, today, Norwegians are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world – check the stats!

The Processed

Today an everyday Nordic diet is based on processed foods – foods that can be stored on the shelf or in the freezer, especially during the 6 months of darkness and winter when there are no fresh plant foods naturally available.

Naturally, Nordic peoples survived on large quantities of red meat for winter (including sea mammals) and winter fish, breads (because grain stored well) and maybe a few root veg.  They processed their foods with more natural methods like cooking, freezing, drying, salting, pickling and caustic sodaing.  No chemicals or artificial ingredients.  They would still be eating that today if nutritionists and activists hadn’t persuade them to change their diet to be as trendy as the rest of the western world.  (Norwegians have been embracing the Mediterranean diet for decades!)

Claims of Health

Really, any diet that is natural, based on a large variety of fresh clean food is healthy.  The new ‘Nordic Diet’ is just a trend word loosely based off a handful of foods that one population eats only occasionally. This is how naive ‘nutrition’ and ‘nutrition experts’ have become.

One of the points in the article, which gives a good idea of how researchers and media can sensationalize info, is at the bottom with the “only ‘5.8 percent’ of Norwegian women are ‘significantly overweight'”.  Ha, where did they get that from?  Picking out an obscure slice of info to support health claims is bad science and deceptive.

Stats Norway reveals 27% of the population is overweight and 10% of these are obese. 17% of the adult pop. have cardiovascular disease and up to 38% of the pop. are basically alcoholics, drinking two or more times a week.  Check out the links below for more info on things like lifestyle and exercise, etc.

Only providing little bits of information distorts the full truth.  Basically, there is a reason the article only took stats from a selection of the population – women – and I wonder what age group of women they chose from, coz I can’t seem to find it.  In the survey form (provided link below), I selected overweight and obese women 16+ as from the latest 2012 national survey. It turns out that a BMI of 27-30 (overweight) is 13% and BMI >30 (obese) is 9%.  The article’s ‘5.8% of women’ is hogwash.

What is StatsNorway? It is the Norwegian authority on national surveys for every aspect of the country, where WHO gets their information from.

From someone living and eating in the Arctic north. ;)

Lifestyle and Health Article
http://www.ssb.no/en/helse/statistikker/helseforhold/hvert-3-aar

Survey Form
https://www.ssb.no/statistikkbanken/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?MainTable=LevevanerX&KortNavnWeb=helseforhold&PLanguage=1&checked=true

World Heritage Lille Raipas

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Lille Raipas is a World Heritage listed mountain in our home town, Alta.  It was one of the points used to calculate the circumference of the earth, and how flat the North and South Poles are.  It is about a 2km casual walk to the top with diverse scenery.

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To start we walked through Englandskogen, (England Forest).  We are not sure exactly how the name came about but we guess it might have something to do with all the English men mining for copper in the mountain.

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Norway is a very wet country.  Not that it rains all the time, unless you live in Bergen, but the soil is filled with water, there are many little creeks and waterfalls that run down from the snowy mountains even during the peak of summer.  Along public walking tracks it is usual to have planks to skip over the extra muddy patches.

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Below is a picture of an ant hill.  You might be thinking ‘why?’, but this is the first ant hill I have ever seen in Norway, with my first ants.

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About a third of the way up is a lovely (big) pond, something that I would call a Billabong, being from Australia – secluded with marshes and a small waterfall keeping the water fresh.  It’s perfect for a break up the mountain.

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The mountain contains Europe’s oldest fossils, 1.8 billion year old algae.

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Cabins in Norway are the norm but this little one on the side of the hill was unusually placed.  Powered by solar panels, it sat lonely by the public track half way up the mountain.

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Many different wild flowers and vegetation grow along the track.  Each corner turn gives a new perspective of the Finnmark landscape.

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Near the top of the mountain is a desolate rocky area.  It is all the leftovers from the copper mine, which was worked from 1835-1869, dragged out of the mountain and left.

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The copper mine is fenced off for safety but the entrance can still be seen from the ridge.

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Around the top we were delighted to see cloudberry plants growing in the marshes, although it doesn’t seem like it will be a good season this year because it was quite cold at the beginning of June.  Early summer cold tends to stunt the growth of the season.

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Near the top of the mountain we were using more planks to walk on.  The soil is wetter near the top because the snow melts later.  In a corner pocket of a shady ridge there was even a crevice of white snow still left from winter.

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Over the last climb the views started opening up.  There were a number of high spots on the top of large rocks which we could conquer with ease giving us spectacular panoramic views of the city.

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Just a little further and we reached the summit, marked with a post.

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Off to the side was the totem cairn, to which we added our own rock.  The pile of rocks is actually the meridian marker they used for the geo-scientific survey of the earths circumference.  It was just one of the points in many that crossed 10 countries from the Black Sea to Hammerfest, 2 hours drive north of Alta, the highest city in the world.  On the rock underneath is a plaque in three languages to commemorate the point.

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As part of the trail walking tradition in Norway, there is always a book to sign, marking your achievement of the climb.

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Every Norwegian city (with a mountain) has a trail walking program.  Ti for toppen, is a journey to ten peaks.  It is always a race, and last year two Norwegian men raced with their mountain bikes, climbing all the peaks in just one day!  During Environmental week in June, Alta at least, has a family activity of hiking three of the smaller mountains around the area.  Lille Raipas was one of them this year, along with Komsa and Hjemmeluft mountains.  Our family climbed to the peak of each and punched a special card to receive a commemorative t-shirt at the end.

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We had a picnic at the top of Lille Raipas and while we sat we picked out landmarks and areas of Alta – the sand quarry, the salmon river, Haldde – where the first Northern Lights observatory in the world was built, the fjord, the ski jump, the city, Komsa mountain – an old Sami spiritual ground, the airport and landing planes – yep, the whole city.  It would definitely be the perfect place to watch the Midnight Sun over the northern mountains (if you can survive the monster mosquitoes that come out in the cool afternoon).

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Lille Raipas is a fully marked trail and is an easy climb.  Alta kommune tourist information has maps of trails in the area.  If you have the time when you’re visiting Alta and really love the outdoors and scenery, I recommend a trip up Lille Raipas for a half day activity.  You’d want to take the trip during a sunny day so the mosquitoes won’t want to come out an play!

Alta at 4AM

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It is hard to go to sleep at night.  Even with the windows blacked out, the Midnight Sun light still invades the bedroom atmosphere.  All the senses in my body tell me “Wake up!  Get up.  It is not time for sleep, it’s time to live in the sun.”  Every night it is a battle to fall asleep.  Sometimes when I can’t it is better to get up, watch a movie, and try again later.

Not being able to sleep isn’t all bad.  Every time I look out my sun-loving windows in the middle of the night and see the sun blazing in the sky, warming our house, even at four in the morning, I feel lucky.  I get to see an amazing sight, a front-seat view of the Midnight Sun shining bright over the mountains and the fjord, over the city of Alta nestled among green pastures with cows and horses grazing, birds at their loudest.  I get to live it, every summer.

Wish you were here!

Sending you bright Midnight Sun-shine from on top of the world!

Supersonic Booming

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Supersonic booming from fully loaded F16s, air raid sirens and bomb shelters have now become a regular part of life for me in Norway.

The caption in the photo reads: Fighters on an ID-hunt cause booms

I have only recently become acquainted with the bomb shelters in Alta.  They are amazing, big underground tunnels with full-on steal and cemented doors that are so large and heavy I can’t open them by myself.  Standing in one, and walking round, feeling the coldness seep into my bones and the echoes of my movements traveling through makes my soul feel the hollowness of fear and loss.  Right now the bomb shelters are being used to store some of my larger theatre props but they are designed for a much more grave purpose.

Every now and then I hear air raid sirens from the city.  The first time I had no clue what they were and had to call up Moose, who was at work, to find out.  They regularly test them, and the only way you know if it is the real deal or not is to check out the newspaper website.  But if it was the real deal I wouldn’t know what to do, or who would be ‘chosen’.  Alta has grown dramatically over the last 50 years and the bomb shelters just won’t fit everyone in.

These bomb shelters and sirens are only for emergencies, only when we are under attack, only when there is conflict or war.  And who wants to threaten peaceful Norway?

Two times in the space of three months our houses have been rocked by sonic booms from fully armed fighter jets breaking the speed of sound to check out the Russian bogies invading Norwegian airspace in the east.  When questioned, the military casually tell us they are just carrying out the ‘NATO contingency’ when there’s ‘indications of Russian aircraft activity in the east’.  It is all very ‘underwhelming’, or so they tell us.

It might just be coincidence, but the F16 flyovers have only happened since the heat developing between the Ukraine and Russia.  I guess it is natural for bordering countries be on (high) alert.  But it is the first time that I have seen Norwegians run out of their houses to look up at the skies wondering if there is any clear and present danger.

In a time of reflection, and in this world of strife, it makes me wonder if the bomb shelters of the past could become our future.

http://www.altaposten.no/lokalt/nyheter/article9851860.ece

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