Consumption of fruit and vegetables in Iceland has increased dramatically since the beginning of the century. In the years since the crash, there’s also been a return to basics with emphasis
on local and fresh ingredients.
Published in the 2014 June-July issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.14. By Zoë Robert. Photos by Áslaug Snorradóttir.
Fresh bunches of green kale, rainbow chard, spinach and arugula, aromatic herbs, green, red and yellow peppers, alfalfa and bean sprouts, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, mushrooms, rutabaga and tomatoes galore… The shelves of Iceland’s grocery and health food stores have come a long way in recent years.
Apart from the fish in the ocean, Iceland’s settlers arrived in a country almost devoid of food. Everything had to be brought with them and the harsh climate and absence of refrigeration put its mark on the traditional Icelandic diet: lamb and dairy products featured strongly while fruit and vegetables were largely absent.
During World War II, Iceland’s economy started to boom. This had a profound impact on the nation’s dietary habits, according to Dominique Plédel Jónsson, president of Slow Food Iceland. “When market policy took over—the war played a large part in this as Icelandic export of fish became vital for the British [and American] market—a feeling of being new rich, combined with the proximity of American interests at the military base of Keflavík turned the country onto fast
food,” she wrote in a chapter on Icelandic food in the book Hræringar – the Nordic House and Iceland/2007-2013.
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