Again one organic year has passed and BioFach is approaching fast. For anybody working in international organic business a year is not the calendar year, it is counted from BioFach to BioFach on week 7 in February. So I presume many of you reading this blog are also heading to BioFach and I hope to meet you there!
This year Organic Food Finland is back in Hall 1 (stand 410) and the Nordic cooperation has been expanded. You will find us under the “Nordic Organics” banner together with Denmark and Sweden. The Nordic countries do have some things in common so cooperation is natural. Organic Food Finland will be in one block and 10 companies are exhibiting – or actually everyone in the group. Feel free to contact myself or Lhassan for arranging a meeting there (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Or you can just pop in to see what is new from Organic Finland.
An exciting part of the Nordic cooperation is the Nordic Kitchen and Restaurant we will have on the Nordic Organics stand area. The restaurant will focus on showcasing the New Nordic Cuisine (Ny Nordisk Mat) and of course the products of the Nordic exhibitors. At lunch time there will be lunch served so this is an excellent place in the middle of a busy day when you get hungry. Apart from the staff chefs who are preparing delicious Nordic food, Finland’s Ambassador Chef Kim Palhus will be present and showcase New Nordic Cuisine “version Finland” – of course using raw-materials from our exhibitors as much as possible. So be sure to be there on Wednesday or Thursday for a treat!
When talking about farming in Finland we always like to point out that FInland is the northern-most country to be self-sufficient in basic food-stuffs. Finns have survived in these harsh conditions through history and so have our cultivated plants and our animals. But actually the summers are not harsh at all, they are quite nice although a little short. On the other hand the sun shines around the clock and plants just keep growing.
It is the winters that were difficult for the people and animals in the old times – and still are for the pests. Finland is a country which is pure in nature and sparsely populated and where pests are killed by the winters. Therefore Finns consider Finnish food to be practically organic as it is. Of course this is not quite true. To be organic a farmer needs to follow the organic farming method f.ex. not using chemical fertilizers or pesticides and the farm must be certified. And actually quite a few are: 6,5% of the Finnish field area is certified organic – whcih is one of the highest figures in the world. On top of that Finland has the largest area of certified organic picking area for wild organic berries – 7 million hectares!
So what kind of organic products can you expect to find from Finland? For organics the most important line of production is grain. Finland is one of the biggest producers of organic oats and is well known for the excellent quality of its oats. Oats are a highly recommended part of a diet as it is one of the few products with an EFSA-accepted (European Food Safety Authority) health claim. Oat bran is becomming more and more of a hype in many markets. Finland also produces high quality spring wheat and rye. Finland has a rich bread culture combining western and eastern influences and the tradition of sour rye bread is still alive and well. It can be found as fresh bread in many forms as well as dried flat-bread. Rye flatbread has been one of the biggest succes stories for organic exports from Finland. Other cereal based products are f.ex. organic muffins and rye crisps and rye chips. Also Finnish wheat is of excellent quality.
The fruits of Finland are our berries. Both wild and cultivated. When we in Finland say wild berries, we really mean wild berries growing in the nature and hand-picked without any manipulation of the environment. There are several eadible berries growing in the wild of which the commercially most important are blilberry – also called blueberry – (Vaccinium myrtillus) and lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea) followed by cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), cranberry (V. oxycoccos) and crowberry (Empetrum nigrum). Black curant and other currants are the most important cultivated berries while strawberry is cultivated for the fresh-market. Sea buckthorn is found wild on the coast-line but also cultivated. It is fair to say that fruits are extremily healthy and in particular the berries from the north are even more healthy. Generally wild berries are healthier than cultivated berries. They have lower yield but higher content of beneficial substancies. F.ex. wild bilberries have multiple times more healthy substancies compared to the cultivated varities. Lingonberry is expected to become the next superberry. Organic berries are available in many forms: frozen, concentrates, dried etc for the industry or made into consumer products like juices and jams for the consumer or even more sophisticated – sparkling wines and liqueurs.
There is an abundance of other organic products from Finland always building on the qualities of the pure nature, rich tradition or modern technology or a combination of all. Birch sap is linked to the nature and traditional medicine while rape seed oil has proven health benefits and the berry dessert ”kiisseli” is a traditional food that in its modern format is an excellant product for hikers who need to carry their food with them to the wilderness.