The picture you see here I made some years ago in the southern part of the county Östergötland near the border of the county Småland. I chose that sketch because of today’s theme. In the free gazette Metro today I read about the increased search for ecologic food, produced near you, on a local farm, which in part is a reaction against several things. Partly as a reaction against the mass produced food scandals, but also as a reaction on the political scandals, the green house effect and tricky economy. First thing first. I believe that there always will be cheating, cruelty towards animals, food scandals on a local basis somewhere nearby you, on a regional, national and international scale. We humans irrespective of where we grow up or what ancestry or religion we have tend to be both good and bad in our behaviour and how we treat each other, animals and the earth we inhabit. I don’t believe that we ever will see a perfect world. All the same I believe that we have an obligation to at least try to live in such a way that we don’t hurt our surroundings unnecessarily. In recent years there have been several food scandals. The latest was the horse meat scandal from January-February 2013 that I wrote about the other day. This present year two children in Västerås got ill after having eaten hamburgers and kebab. The bacteria Ecoli was found in the meat. Between 2010 and 2012 350 000 imported pig filets were “painted” and sold as cow filets, one of the largest food scandals in modern times here in Sweden. In 2007 old fish was dipped in lemon to look white and old shrimps were mixed with new ones and sold as new in food stores. Old fish was also placed under the fresh and sold as new. Also in 2007 ICA-stores in Stockholm were revealed having changed the dates on mixed meat. Too old packages were re-dated as new and sold again.
According to a new report from LRF, The Famers’ National Association, the amount of farms that produce their own food has increased with 56 % since 2007.Helena Jonsson, chief of LRF, says: “In times such as these it feels extra good being able to look the food producer in the eyes”. The business with ecologic food amounts today to over 630 million kronor a year and many food producers are optimistic because of the growing awareness and the green trend, especially among the younger generations. According to the LRF report more than 50% of the interviewees claim that they see possibilities to develop their business. Among the interviewed food producers the women were most content. Every third woman states that her business has become more lucrative in recent years, despite the bad general economy. Helena Jonsson says: “Even if we buy slightly more expensive raw material it doesn’t mean that the food account increases. If you buy more expensive you take better care of the food and there’s less surplus. Maybe you buy less quantities of good meat and adds more sallad instead”.
There are about 1000 small farms that produce food of their own in Sweden today and their assembled food selling amounts to 535 000 kronor each year. Those who’re most successful have their own dairy of milk products, a bakery or butchery. What they all want though is better support from the political law makers. The small businesses want easened laws and less bureaucracy to improve the possibilities for small businesses and food producers. At Ängvallen’s Farm outside Vellinge in southwestern Scania, a few kilometers south of Malmoe, the farm owner Rolf Axel Nordström says that more and more people want his products. Only during January and February 2013 the selling has increased with 19%. All kinds of people go to his farm, young people not the least, and parents of small children. Rolf Axel Nordström says that his meat is more expensive, but that he believes that we all should do well if we cut our meat eating with 50%. Less meat, but good meat.
Inga-Britt Gustafsson, former professor in food knowledge at Örebro University believes that with time the various food scandals will affect our ways of buying food. She predicts that we will focus more and more on supporting the Swedish meat industry, a similar trend also seen in other countries who gain their local tradesmen.
The combination of local, regional and national awareness and pride, as well as a business combined with international bonds and acknowledgement I believe is essential. Knowing our own background, living here and now, making plans for the future, trying to understand and accept other people’s high value, feeling self-pride and self-awareness, but also humility for our own limitations is utterly important. That’s why we need each other and need to respect the good aspects of being the human animal among other animals.
Anders Moberg, March 5th 2013