Sustainable Eating at the Edge of the World
Ethical eating, sustainable farming and local produce bursting with flavour, our new tour discovers the very best of Norwegian cuisine in the Lofoten Archipelago, Norway.
Norway is widely known for its farming and fishing, with traditional national recipes like lutefisk (salted cod) and pinnekjøtt (lamb ribs) originating from the Nordics. However, it’s also emerging as a key destination which is embracing sustainable food practices, with organic farming on the rise and a cultural shift towards embracing local produce and centuries old traditions of farming and harvesting.
50 Degrees North have put together a tour, 'Lofoten Culinary Food Week' which celebrates our food heroes in Norway and includes some of the finest sustainable food experiences in the country. We have based the tour in Lofoten, the land of the Vikings and a fairy-tale like landscape with mountains rising dramatically out of the seas. The archipelago is known for the northern lights, midnight sun and small villages, but also for their rich cultural heritage and exceptional dining experiences.
The first stop is Holmen Lofoten, a remote collection of fishermens cabins perched on the shoreline. Here guests can log off from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and fine tune into their surroundings, with an emphasis on reconnecting with nature and soaking up the cosy atmosphere. Holmen was created by Ingunn Rasmussen, who grew up in the area living off the land and sea, foraging and fishing and whose first job at the age of five was to put baits on the fishing lines. Her family lived self-sufficiently for everything they needed, from food to clothing.
This ethos has carried through to Holmen Lofoten. Due to unpredictable weather surrounding the Lofoten islands it can be hard to take deliveries from the mainland, this means that living sufficiently off the land is integral to their work. Ingredients such as Sheep’s Sorrell, a flowering plant used in a variety of ways, can be foraged locally and preserved for use throughout the year – making it a staple ingredient for many of the chefs in Lofoten. Holmen partner with carefully selected local suppliers, many of whom will grow and farm the animals specifically for their restaurant. Guests can enjoy such local delights as coalfish, halibut, snow hares, berries and, of course, the famous Norwegian cod.
Cod fishing has been an integral part of the Lofotens, and indeed Europe's history. Explorers relied on dried cod as a vital preserved food source for crossing continents, as such it drew fishermen to the area where the seas were abundant. Such was its popularity that by the 1980's, in part due to newer industrialised fishing fleets, cod stocks were decimated. The government put in strict quotas to prevent overfishing and since then the Norwegian cod have bounced back and are now hailed as the most sustainable cod stock in the world.
Guests are invited to learn more about the rich history that the island has to offer, and activities will reflect this. Included on this itinerary is an afternoon with the local fisherman on a Deep-Sea fishing trip.
Another unusual delicacy in the region is Seaweed, and thanks to one of the world’s strongest tidal currents there’s an abundance of it in Lofoten. Seaweed is packed full of essential nutrients and increasingly seen as a sustainable food source, requiring no feed other than sunlight and the nutrient rich waters that it lives in. Due to Norway’s expansive coastline and long hours of sunlight during the summer months, boosting growth, Seaweed has the potential to become a significant industry in the country, and will be seen as major player in the countries goal to a greener more sustainable economy.
Our guests have the option to get suited and booted to brave the icy waters in a wild-harvesting seaweed experience with the Lofoten Seaweed Company, where your guide will take you out by RIB boat to a beautiful and secluded spot to learn more about this rich ecosystem that lies beneath the waves.
Although the islands are famous for their ancient fishing traditions, food sources are not limited to seafood. Vestvågøy, in the Lofoten lowlands, once an ancient Viking settlement is now the largest agricultural municipality in Norway. This is something that Roy Magne, former Norwegian ‘Chef of the Year’ and winner of multiple Norwegian and Internal cooking awards, is keen to celebrate and as such includes locally farmed meat such as free-range pork, angus cattle, grouse “wild sheep”, and even moose on the menu.
One of the highlights of this experience is a cooking class and open kitchen experience at Roy’s Lofoten Food Studios, while he prepares and serves multi-course menus inspired by the four amazing seasons of Lofoten.
Of course, sustainable dining is not limited just to where your food is sourced from; it is important to also consider the whole life cycle of your meal, from ground to plate to ground. One chef who has come to appreciate the value of ingredients which are traditionally disregarded or discarded is Halvar Ellingsen, winner of multiple culinary awards and who has worked for some of Norway’s finest restaurants. Reducing food waste is the philosophy behind this organic working farm - they grow all their own vegetables and produce and use as much of the livestock as they can when cooking to ensure as little as possible goes to waste. This farm is the final stop on our culinary trail and guests are encouraged to explore and enjoy this unique garden working farm, meet the free-range pigs, wander the herb gardens, and settle down to a 20-25 course tasting menu.
Image credits: Holmen Lofoten, Lofoten Seaweed Company and Lofoten Food Studios