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The traditional Mediterranean diet, based on good and healthy raw materials, vegetables and fruits are no longer that much of a base in most household, contrary to what Spaniards themselves like to think. Up north in Europe, in Norway, the fiber-rich breads, the old traditional dishes as well as the raw materials used by the country’s Champion Chefs, are also loosing foothold.

Why has frozen-pizza become Norway’s most consumed dinner food? And why is it that pre-cooked and easy-to-make food have made it to Spanish kitchens and dinner tables too?

Answer: The time-thieves!

It’s got to be fast, it’s got to be easy, and it’s got to be cheap!!! These are the guiding rules today; both in private homes and in public institutions. An example of the latter was a Madrid-county initiative that pretended improving hospital menus for kids, by inviting top-rated chef to prepare healthy menus. Then, it turns out that the county-budgets were so ridiculously low, that it was actually just impossible to apply any of the quite reasonable suggestions of these specialists.

We know more about healthy food and sound living than ever before, but we do not live accordingly. Hooked up in pressure from working hours and leisure activities, as well as the wish to follow the happy lives of the ones we see on television ads, we stock up with the foodstuff that they advertize. And in times of economic crisis, cheap is king. And, as we all know, the cheap items are mostly results of industrial processes with materials of doubtful degrees of healthiness.

So, we think we do our kids a favor when we let them have all the sweets and the chips and the soda-pop that they ask for. Maybe it is not so in the long run, uh!?

In Norway, home of the big and hearty breakfasts, most have a lunch-break around noon. That’s when the waste-baskets around the schools sometimes contain matpakker (packed sandwiches) dumped by kids preferring buns and stuff from the nearby bakery or snack-bar, drowned with Coca-Cola instead of the traditional cold milk. (Actually, since some years, Coca-Cola has had a declared goal of substituting milk as a part of the Norwegian household diets, running aggressive campaign to this end).

In Spain, few people have a big breakfast, but would rather have a Magdalena or biscuit or something light as a start of the day. Then, during the morning hours it is quite common to have another “breakfast”. Then most kids will be chewing on industrially made buns or pastry instead of the good old bocadillo with salchichón.

In both countries, the consumption of sugar, fat and greasy stuff has gone up tremendously the last few generations. And the experts have struck the alarm-bells a long time ago. This is not a question about esthetics, like “slim is nicer to the eye than fat”, but rather a serious longterm health problem, something that will cost us dearly healthwise in years to come.

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  1. #1 by indieaink on 20/07/2011 - 08:45

    I did a semester abroad in Norway and I have to say that I’ve definitely seen what you’re talking about in action. The university students who lived in my building were eating frozen pizzas or other frozen foods for dinners probably 85-90% of the time. Honestly though, coming from America I found that most of the time I saw anyone eating anything I would usually think of how much healthier people ate in Norway than we did at home. The amount of fast food eaten seemed really quite small compared to what I am used to here in the States. Sure there were a few McDonalds restaurants here and there and other chains as well, but their popularity seemed much much less than in the United States. I especially thought the difference in lunches for schoolchildren was amazing. We observed an elementary school class for two weeks and the matpakke the kids brought to class with them were so much healthier than their American counterparts. Hopefully things like the milk campaign you mentioned are helpful so that the problem does not reach the levels it has here.

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