A different type of turkey

And continuing on the turkies on telly theme - real ones this time - I caught the end of a documentary on the animal rights organisation PETA last night. There was horrendous footage on the mistreatment of turkies in a factory somewhere in the US. It really did get me thinking of either becoming a vegetarian - although I think I'd struggle to completely replace my animal protein with tofu, free-range eggs and lentils - or at least trying only to buy free-range chickens killed in a humane manner. But then I remembered that I live in Norway.
Besides being over-priced and pumped up with water, chicken breasts here comes in three types: two-breast, family and economy packs, all from the same company. There's no such thing as free-range chicken with the name of the farmer provided on the pack. The same with all meat in fact: no product choice, or consumer information provided on the products available. The same with dairy produce - two companies and very little variety. When I go into a supermaket in Ireland these days, I'm overwhelmed to the point of anxiety by the range of dairy and meat products available. At least though, if you want to buy organic, ethically produced foods, you can.

Supermarkets in Norway are on a par with those in Manila in terms of product range but without the helpful bag-packers at the checkout. They are small, often poorly-stocked, and it is almost impossible to do all one's shopping in one place.

But back to the turkies and chickens. I don't know how chickens are treated in slaughter houses in Norway but I doubt the premium we pay for their meat is due to the luxury conditions in which they meet their demise. So, please save me from a either a bad conscience or indigestion: does anyone know where one can buy free-range chicken breasts in my part of Norway (without sourcing a farmer oneself)?
Photo: Konrad Busslinger


sunflower said...

You can possibly find it in Meny or Ultra, sometimes even in Coop Mega, organic that is (they have red meats at least), yeah the expensive kind ;) You might also find organic meats in one of the very very few butchers up towards Majorstuen, there's one close to the veterinary school, close to Bislett and one on Bygd√ł Alle...hope that helps :)

OSLO said...

Thank you Sunflower. I've never seen organic chicken in Meny or Ultra, but next time I'm going into town I'll look into finding a butcher. Hardly ever buy red meat here as it's tough as shoe leather AND expensive so it's easy to avoid :-) Have been looking at chickpea and tofu recipes today with the intention of experimenting a bit without chicken this week.
Thanks again

Victoria said...

I've been a vegetarian for about three years now. It started for health reasons (there is a great book called The China Study that was life changing for me). However in the course of my research I learned about the way animals are treated in the US. It was really eye opening. I'm now a vegetarian for both ethical and health reasons. I've also wondered about the treatment of animals in Norway, I would assume it is better than the US at least. Good for you for learning more about it.
Chickpeas and beans are great meat replacements. Tofu can be tricky until you "get it". I don't cook with tofu very often because I can't do it very well. However I love it in resteraunts.
Sunkost has a pretty good selection of precooked tofu and meat replacement products like hot dogs, sandwich "meat" etc.

Victoria said...

One last thing and then I'll shut up. :-)
The amount of protein that we think we need is usually much more than we actually need. If you are eating a balanced vegetarian diet you will get enough protein. If you do decide to try a vegetarian diet I suggest reading "Becoming Vegetarian" by Vesanto Melina. It throughly discusses how to have a healthy diet.

Five-Browns said...

Geez. I will quit complaining about grocery stores here in SA. We have a huge range of organic, free-range produce and our grocery stores are generally one-stop shops.

But then again we have xenophobic maniacs on the loose. Cant have it all.

OSLO said...

Victoria, thank you very much for the info. I'll look into the book.
Five Browns, having decided that we'd start the week with spinach lasagne, I've so far being to two shops and failed to find either ricotta or cottage cheese so it's on hold until I look elsewhere tomorrow. Talk about a waste of time, energy and diesel. But you're right, this is better than having 'xenophobic maniacs' on the lose.

Joanne Rasmussen said...

I am surprised about the lack of produce available in Norway. Its true what Five-browns says, here we are actually spoilt for choice, again it is probably due to the size of population. We dont have an Ikea apparentely because there are not enough people here who would purchase from that type of store. Keep it up Oslo, what about eating more Salmon?

OSLO said...

IKEA is only 7 minutes drive from our house - one of two massive outlets in the Oslo area - so no shortage of flat packs around here. Managed to get some ricotta and cottage cheese this morning - yahoo! We do eat salmon a lot as that's something there's pleny of here, even organic so I think if we ate any more we'd grow gills :) Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

Some of the health food shops have organic meat (e.g. helios on Middelthunsgate at Majorstua). You may want to take out a second mortgage, though .....
Also Farmers markets - there's one on Bogstadveien once a month. Most of the stalls are cheese or honey, but one sells organic meat - we got some yummy looking burgers there on saturday that we'll grill tonight.
See: http://www.bondensmarked.no/
Next one in Oslo isn't until after the summer, though.
There's also matstreif in October:
We went there once and there was a TON of stalls selling decent meat.

Michele said...

Hi Johanna. I totally relate to your disappointment at the lack of organic and/or free-range meat available in Norway. My husband is a devoted carnivore from England who pines for his high street butcher in York. It's enough to make us think about learning to hunt... :-) I think there might be organic chicken at Meny from time to time; it costs over 100 kroner for a whole bird, if I remember correctly. Oh, and I don't want to rain on anyone's parade but I'm pretty sure all the salmon in Norway is farmed and is pumped full of antibiotics. This is very sad. I've been told orret is a better choice. :-(

OSLO said...

Michele & Anonymous,
Thank you very much for dropping by and for your information. I've decided that the cost and hassle in sourcing ehtically-produced meat here isn't worth it and to try eat more vegetarian dishes instead. Sad about the salmon, but not surprising, Michele.

Anonymous said...

I am a firm believer that going fully vegetarian is hard work and basically requires a whole new culinary education. I became one as a child more than 20 years ago and I can thank my mother for letting me do that and spending a lot of time leaning how to feed me. Now I eat some fish and seafood (which I recommend doing in Norway, at least for now).

Ultra has the best selection of frozen meat substitutes (at least that I know of), some of the small asian stores have tofu and make sure you turn to beans, eggs, lentils and nuts as easy sources of protein.

Mussels are relatively cheap in Norway and one of the best foods on earth (in my humble opinion).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled over here from Victoria's blog. I am just wondering what you vegetarians are putting on the grill here in Norway? I love the Quorn products, Boca burgers, garden burgers, etc... but those are not available here. The Swedish faux meat products are really high fat and salt, and not that enticing, as well as seriously expensive.

Has anyone had any luck making a TVP burger? Or is there a place to source Quorn/Boca products in Norway?

The lack of organic products is mostly due to the high import tarrifs. They're just priced out of the market. They are imported, however, and restaurants and hotels buy up loads of them. I just rarely see them for sale to the general public. (I have a source on this stuff!)

It may be you could request said products, or make a subscription to a organic veggie farm. There is one in Stavanger in Ulland (spelling that wrong, eh? Near the Stavanger University) that does this apparently!

It may be one of those things we're not seeing not being locals. Maybe ask around!