Finnish Wild Herbs and Berries Depend on Winter
Climate change is here. In the northern hemisphere, nature is one of the big payers. Here the effects of the climate change are double. This will affect both the growing conditions of our native plants and the bio diversity of the Finnish nature in general. The changing climate will possibly increase the number of invasive species, some of which threat the existence of our domestic ones. Regardless of how dark, harsh and long winter might feel, our domestic wild plants actually benefit from this season; snow covers the plants from frost and cold temperatures kill pests. To the contrary, long summer days full of light create also ideal growth conditions to the plants. When compared to the cultivated lettuce plants, wild grown herbs and vegetables are much more nutritious. It is these extreme growth conditions that pack our wild berries with healthy phenolic compounds and make them known worldwide.
Cleanest country in the world
Finland is known as one of the cleanest countries in the world. Our natural products are widely acknowledged and valued due to the growing environment our country offers. Finland has relatively clean soil, water systems and pure air. However, climate change is surely putting these advantages at stake. In the north, rising temperatures will increase rains and mix the course of our four seasons. Increasing rainfalls mean also that more microplastics will flow to our water systems. Harmful emissions can worsen the air quality. Winters are already less snowy and have warmer average temperature. We can only guess how the warming climate and the following rising sea levels and the amount of sweet water entering the oceans will affect the Gulf Stream. It is one of the biggest sea currents that creates a thermohaline circulation determining the climate on many different areas, including the climate of Nordic countries.
Our wild herbs, berries and mushrooms are culinary capital that depend on our four seasons. By protecting our winters and climate in general, we protect the growing conditions of our precious domestic nature products. Natural products form a growing export sector and Finnish nature, where these delicacies grow wild and are freely utilized with every man’s rights, is a tempting nature tourism destination. In addition, cultivating these plants is ecological, as they have adapted to our soil and climate naturally. Finally, including these plants based food products in one’s diet is an act for climate as they are a nutritious vegan addition to your home kitchen, making your diet more climate friendly. This is especially true, if the production process runs with renewable energy.
How big is your carbon footprint?
Luckily we can all do our share to reduce our carbon footprint on this planet. The best way to fight it is with our carbon handprint. In other words, how much we can do and act to minimize our climate burden. One excellent option is to follow the pathway created by POW Finland. The list has seven steps representing actions one can do in different areas of life: politics, social life and media, studying, ways of living, eating, travelling, and consuming.
Social media is also full of interesting blogs and Instagram accounts, where people share their tips for more simple, yet satisfying and complete life. To get a general overview of how you consume on different spheres of your life, you can do an online test such as this provided by Sitra.
Love the wild goods, love the climate
At the end, whether we welcome domestic wild goods to our kitchens or not has a lot to do with customs and habits – how we have grown to like and be familiar with many herbs and vegetables exported to Finland from Southern Europe or even further. We need to spread knowledge and experiences, recipes and ask for these products to be used on municipal level in places such as school diners, students restaurants and office cafes.
Luckily, quite a few restaurants are already using Finnish herbs, berries and mushrooms in the most imaginable ways. Finnish wild treats are also explored and used in delicious and exciting ways in the series of culinary webisodes called VILLD.
Raising awareness is important, but to actively include them and bring them back to our cuisine and culture needs also support from authorities. Hopefully more high-level research is done to create pressure for legislative changes to make natural products more easily available. By praising what our nature has to offer, we also learn to appreciate the sensitive climate system that has created the perfect growth conditions to these tasty wild treats.
Photos: Pauliina Toivanen & Aino Huotari
Arktiset aromit: http://www.arktisetaromit.fi/fi/yrtit/
Ocean currents and climate change: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_currents/
POW Finland polku: http://www.protectourwinters.fi/polku-talvien-pelastamiseen/
Pro Luomu http://proluomu.fi/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/06/Organics_in_Finland_2016.pdf
Sitran elämäntapatesti: https://elamantapatesti.sitra.fi/