Icelandic Culture: Sustainable Nutrition in Iceland (Listen)

We’ve had a great time covering Iceland Airwaves and discovering and reporting on Icelandic culture. Here’s an Icelandic cultural interview culled from our time there. Be sure to stay tuned for our final radio documentary, which will air on WCRX-FM 88.1. Visit our Iceland Airwaves blog to read/hear more from our time in Iceland.

Iceland is a country known for its sustainability and functionality. They utilize their natural resources in a number of ways—from geothermal heating to nutrition. When it comes to their personal health, Icelanders eat a lot less fruit and vegetables than Americans, as the cold climate prevents these foods from growing locally. Instead, Iceland imports fruits and most of their vegetables.

Laufey Steingrímsdóttir, a nutrition professor at the University of Iceland who has a strong focus in food history and culture, explained how the lack of fruit has influenced the typical Icelandic diet.

Steingrímsdóttir says that even though Iceland has many imported foods, they are still abundant in foods containing high protein, like fish.

With fish being such a large part of their diet, protein is not a primary concern in Iceland. Nonetheless, an Icelandic company called Black Soldier Fly Productions recently began to produce a sustainable protein alternative, known as Crowbar. The product, a protein bar made with cricket powder, was inspired by a 2013 report in the U.N. called “Edible Insects,” which claimed that people in Western countries should include more insects in their diet. The use of bugs in food could also be a viable source of protein that could solve food shortages.

Stefán Thoroddsen, cofounder of BSF, says he and his business partner, Búi Aðalsteinsson, import crickets from Thailand. Insects, like fruit and vegetables, cannot thrive in a cold climate and thus have to be outsourced. Thoroddsen, however, says that the crickets may eventually be able to be raised locally, with the help of greenhouses.

Heida Hilmisdóttir, is a manager in nutrition services at the University Hospital in Reykjavík, and City Council member responsible for Public Health Committee. She has found more and more people are buying nutritional products these days, from supplements and tablets to protein bars.

She had this to say about the notion of insect-based protein bars.

For WCRX, I’m Melaina de la Cruz.


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