Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Cold Realty of Swedish Produce and an ekostore Who comes to the Resuce

The other day I stumbled upon this place in Göteborg which is just down the street from Helena's Cafe and the Domkyrkan Trolley Stop. Actually I was walking to the Trolley stop from a different direction and low and behold there is was, a Sweden Health Foods Store. Sweden doesn't really have many of these like they do in the USA. Oh there are some small places, but not like the larger chain stores we have back in Southern California where I'm from. This place above is actually the biggest I've found anywhere in Sweden. Of course this doesn't mean it's THE BIGGEST, but the only one that I know of. Sweden has so many silly laws against health items like Colloidal Silver and believe it or not Papaya Enzyme tablets for your digestion are considered evil. Government approved drugs sold at Government only Pharmacies ( Swedish Apoteket  -  see also Systembolaget ) seem to get a pass.

The Swedish population is at the mercy of other countries for it's produce to be shipped hundreds if not thousands of miles away. There is very little that is actually produced here in the way of fresh vegetables and fruits, with the exception of things like potatoes, apples, pears, some strawberries and various other native Boreal Forest fruits like currants, gooseberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, any number of native forest mushrooms etc etc etc. The common well known veggies & fruits need warmer climates. Personally I can relate to that. But this store I stumbled upon goes to great lengths to carry fresh non Industrial Ag selections, just like any other normal health food store. With the scare of GMO produced crops and the present very common food allergies resulting from such Franken-Foods people look to alternative sources for their food safety. Many opt for growing their own, but if unable, they turn to such places as this. My wife has several food allergies and needs Gluten Free and GMO Free cereals and other products. She also has cow's milk allergies, so we purchase very much Non-GMO Soy, Almond, and Oat Milk products.

Searching for Gluten Free Cereal Products - Tough ChallengeBut we found our old flavourite brand of Dinkel Wheat Hot Porridge that was discontinued at the other Markets.

Before coming here, we had previously been to da Matteos Bakery & Coffee House where we had purchased some wonderful sourdough bread. Over in the background on top of the white brick counter are some breads which looked almost identical to da Matteo's Bakery, but more on that in another post. One of the more interesting things here were the selection of Goat and Sheep cheeses that I've never seen available anywhere else in Göteborg. We actually go through quite a lot of Goat or Sheep Feta Cheeses in Greek Salads we like to make at home.

This section here is to the right of the Cheese and Bread counter. This is where the milk, butter, natural juices soymilks etc are to be found. They had the Alpro or Pravel brand soy products we normally purchase at the ICA Stores, but they had a brand of Soygurt called Sojade which had several flavours not found in the other brands. We bought the Lemon and Peach with the Lemon being my wife's flavourite one.

German Food Brands are found everywhere 
in this Göteborg ekostore
Interestingly we noticed many of the products on the shelf were from Deutschland (Germany). This is because both Germany and Austria are far ahead of the rest of Europe when it comes to natural health food items. It also explains the lack of such things originating in Sweden which accounts for very few Natural Health Food Stores. 

This is the long view with the Vegetable (Grönsaks) & Fruit (Frukt) produce section to the right side here

It was at this point where we came to a close for the checkout. Like other stores, this ekostore has it's natural snacks and other candies section just before the checkout counter. I notice several customers the whole time we were there coming and going and heading to this section ONLY and purchasing fistfuls of natural candies and other snacks for munching on the run. 
I am happy we found this place. It is yet another source for things we actually need in the way of health foods. On that note, Sweden is a tough place for finding great fresh produce items. Almost everything has to be imported. Immigrants from Asia, Middle East and Africa like me, all complain about the quality, not so much in looks as it is in lack of good flavour. With the commercial obsession of Industrial Ag monopolizing the foods industry and wanting to sell their less than natural wares globally, it has become necessary for them to genetically engineer, say, Tomatoes to look prettier and last longer on the shelf after a long voyage of shipping. Looks pretty, but often tastes like cardboard which necessitates the purchase of countless spices to mask the less than desirable taste of the produce or rather lack of taste. I often joke with my friends here when I manipulate the Swedish word for Vegetables from Grönsaks to Grön-sucks. To be fair however, Sweden has no choice. The entire world is at the mercy of Industrial Agriculture whose main interests are their financial bottom-line$ and any and all means of obtaining those ends. Don't buy into their slogan, "We just want to feed the world". If that were true, then things would still be grown by many of the still superior traditional ways, just ask any home gardener. 
On this subject's note, lookie what I found here in Yahoo News!
The Winter of (Foodie) Discontentby Amy Ahlberg
8 Foods You Should Never Eat Out of Season (November 14, 2012)

Credit - Health/Yahoo News
Nowadays, you can eat pretty much any fruit or vegetable you want, all year long. But should you? During the summer and fall, farmer's markets are brimming with local, organic food that was harvested within 24 hours and is usually at the peak of its freshness, flavor, and nutritional content. In the winter and early spring, however, you often have to rely on out-of-season produce that's traveled an average of 1,300 miles to get from commercial farms to your dinner table. The process is not only bad for the planet, but it also means you wind up with bland produce that's mealy and low on nutrients. 
While some out-of-season eating is inevitable, there are certain fruits and vegetables you're better off buying frozen. Frozen produce, like fresh produce, has usually traveled long distances to get to your plate, but it at least was picked at the height of freshness and, studies have found, sometimes has a higher nutrient content than fresh produce (just watch for added salt, added to many frozen veggies). For an expert's take on what should only be eaten in season, we turned to Chris DiMinno, the chef at Portland, Oregon's modern gastropub Clyde Common.

Kvist Tomaten

DiMinno is adamant about eating fresh tomatoes when they're naturally ripe and delicious. "Eat them between early August and mid-to-late October, says DiMinno. "They can only gain their full potential sweetness and tenderness in the middle and late summer months." In the winter, bypass the cardboard-y orbs in the produce section and look for jarred, crushed tomatoes instead. Jars don't contain the toxic chemical BPA, which is used to line tin cans, and you can find organic jarred tomatoes made by Bionaturae and Eden Organics.

Fresh peas aren't easy to find, and with good reason; the true pea season, according to DiMinno, is only about two weeks long. "Only eat them in early spring, when they are the sweetest and the most tender. Other times of the year, fresh peas can be starchy, with little to no flavor," says DiMinno. If you're a diehard fan of peas, the chef advises stocking up on them in the spring, and shelling your peas and freezing them while their sugars are at their peak. If you're stuck with store-bought, look for Columbia River Organics frozen green peas, sold at Whole Foods stores. They contain no added salt.
Credit - Tendertips - New Zealand

Another truly seasonal vegetable, asparagus is only good in early to mid spring, before the stalks become too woody. Otherwise, you just wind up with bland, limp stalks. Most out-of-season asparagus is grown in California or Washington, which could be local depending on where you live, but the U.S. also imports a fair amount from South America. Frozen asparagus, which doesn't usually contain added salt, is good in cooked dishes, or for a twist, try pickled asparagus, which you can find at certain specialty grocery stores and farmer's markets.

Credit Anne Maxfield
Summer gardens often overflow with colorful wax beans, and it's the best time to savor them. Says DiMinno, "These are only good in the summer. Before and after, they can get very fibrous and have terrible color." If you prefer fresh, squeaky beans, you may be better off living without them until next summer, but in most recipes, wax beans can be used interchangeably with green beans, which Columbia River Organics sells without any added salt. Going with frozen is extra important with green beans, as tests fromConsumer Reports have shown that canned green beans contained the highest levels of BPA of any canned food. 

credit: Nature's Corner Natural Market
Enjoy it while it lasts—corn is only at its prime in the late summer and early fall. Corn's sugar content is at its peak in September, says DiMinno, adding that it's best grilled or roasted in its husk and peeled afterwards. This helps the corn retain moisture and flavor. In the off-season, look for frozen corn. It's easy to find organic, nowadays, without added salt.

Credit - Florida's Wholesale Produce
Since every season has a mushroom, you can enjoy them year-round; just don't stray outside each variety's season: "Morels in the spring, truffles in winter and summer, chanterelles in the fall, lobster mushrooms in summer," says DiMinno. Because mushrooms are highly absorbent, don't clean them with water; instead, trim off the bottoms and clean off any residual dirt using a pastry brush. For a deliciously different side dish, 

Lettuces - BBC - UK
Although lots of lettuces can be found year-round, DiMinno says that the best lettuces grow in late winter and early spring when it is still chilly outside. This allows the lettuce to achieve the maximum level of crispiness, as well as the highest sugar content, making early spring the best time of year for sweet, crunchy salads. In the off-season, rather than buy bagged lettuces, consider using lettuce alternatives like kale, as in this recipe forBlack Kale Salad with Currants, or red or green cabbage, as in this Autumn Salad. The season for both of those greens lingers into the winter.
Credit Judy Baxter
Peaches are a fruit with a fleeting season, and they don't hold up well when transported. For truly ripe, flavorful peaches, DiMinno says enjoy them only in the middle of summer. Other times of the year, look for peach butters (which can be made without extra sugar) and preserves made locally; don't even bother with frozen, according to a taste test hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle a few years back. "No flavor," was the general consensus among all their taste testers, who sampled frozen peaches from Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's, among other brands.
This was a treasure gem of a story today. While the story itself was  mostly representative of wintertime produce quality in the United States, it's still illustrative of what we face here most of the year in Sweden. I often complain about Yellow Onions or Sweet Corn which was grown a thousand miles away and loaded onto a wooden sailing ship bound for Swedish markets. Seriously, sometimes the produce is just that bad. Swedish Grocery Markets are only at the mercy of who sells what or where it originated from. I'm often surprised at many of the immigrant stores who seem to have a whole different produce market contact or inside track where the quality is often superior. Immigrants from warmer climates really do remember what life with fresh quality produce use to be like from their home mother countries. But what does one do in this case ???????? 
When all else fails, there are clearly some 
flavour options that work!!!


  1. Oh, my gosh! That asparagas with bacon looks yummy! You will have to stock up on health food items when you next return! There's a fairly new Clark's Nutrition out by the I-10 freeway, across from the COSTCO in Palm Desert. I frequently shop there.

  2. Wait till you see the Coffee shop next week.

    When we visit out there we do stock up on a lot of items. There seriously are far more health choices out there than here. I've been to Clark's before when it was nearer to Cathedral City.



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