Bye, Bye Mediterranean Diet

The past year I’ve come across so many emergent, and promising food movements, that I decided to publish a series. This third post is about the New Nordic diet, a promising alternative to the long-time lauded Mediterranean diet.

Breakfast during a holiday weekend in Copenhagen (2010)

New Nordic is the name sometimes attributed to the main culinary shift of the past decade. Where sometimes a Mediterranean diet is perceived as the ideal diet, both for health and the environment, Scandinavia might take over this spot. Scandinavia, with its “earthy and refined, ancient and modern, both playful and deeply serious” cuisine that does not thrive on the new (techniques, stabilizers, ingredients), but instead emphasizes the old (drying, smoking, pickling, curing, smoking), returns the balance to earth itself.

The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), the official body of cooperation of the Nordic countries, will promote the concept of New Nordic Food in collaboration with the United Nations as an example of cooking for a sustainable future. Chef Trina Hahnemann, who wrote The Scandinavian cookbook, defines the New Nordic cuisine as “an everyday cuisine that can inspire people in the northern hemisphere to eat both locally and seasonally.” She emphasizes traditional recipes and eating from your own vegetable garden.

Noma’s artichoke ice-cream (by Prive International Blog)

New Nordic sidesteps the year-round demand for non-local foodstuffs that currently dominates the Dutch supermarkets. René Redzepi, chef of the S. Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, says: “We need to give ourselves the challenge of seeking out what we have here [in Denmark] in order to understand it and to work with it. And when it gets tough – which it does in winter – we keep going.” Redzepi argues that “food is everywhere,” and tries to challenge perceptions of what is good and when food is good. This means he embraces underripe strawberries and salad roots. He tries to question when vegetables are ‘optimal’, and will harvest them long after they are ready, calling them “vintage vegetables” (Interview with Redzepi in Lucky Peach‘s second edition – 2011).

What do you think will dominate 2012 as the novel healthy and sustainable diet?

3 thoughts on “Bye, Bye Mediterranean Diet

  1. I think barra, that the trend is not so much the Nordic diet as well the local diet. The trend of favouring local produce is wider than just the Nordic countries.



  2. Based on where I live (Northern California) and my family heritage, I’ve been eating the Mediterranean diet by default. But, I’ve always loved Scandinavian food and haven’t heard much about it in blogs or food magazines. I actually have the Scandinavian cookbook that you mention, but I’ve had a hard time getting excited about cooking from it. I think a combination of Nordic and Med. diets might be the sweet spot..Really interesting post!

  3. Dear Kasey — I think Jan’s comment is what siginifies the connection. It is not necessarily about the ingredients, but more the approach to food, not only eating more local, but also to make do with what your environment offers. It is interesting to see that in Nordic countries there is more opportunity to eat rooty, raw and earthy veggies, whereas the Med diet includes more sun-demanding, fruity veggies, for instance. See it as a Northern counterpart of the Med! Love your website, by the way!

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