Living a balanced healthy lifestyle
During the last half century, as wealth and technological change advanced worldwide, the well-being trend also became widespread. Especially for the past 30 years, amid society`s growing interests in the value of the quality of life, more and more products that are believed to enrich our daily life have been invented and introduced to satisfy the needs of today’s well-being conscious people.
During my time in Korea, I have witnessed an insurgence of well-being trends in all sectors from food, clothing, housing and so forth. Koreans seem to be particularly concerned about daily diet and fitness, and while obesity is a social concern among children, the traditional Korean cuisine presents a well balanced nutritional array. Talking about food, I’m quite impressed with Korean cuisine which I find very tasty but at the same time very healthy and nutritious. Kimchi is one of my favourites and it seems to be recognized as the representative food that Koreans seem to take special pride in. With the widespread ‘well-being’ trend all over the world since the beginning of the 21st Century, Kimchi is also highly praised and has been even introduced as one of the top 5 healthiest foods in the world by a prestigious health trade in the U.S, due to its fermentation process. Unlike many of other dishes in the world, Kimchi is naturally preserved with just some seasonings. The ingredients in Kimchi consist of vital nutrients necessary for a healthy diet but fermentation method that makes it ripen and allows it to be naturally preserved also adds a particular healthy essence to it.
Sweden, arguably, is also one of the very health-conscious nations in the world. Compared to Korean food, Swedish cuisine has evolved significantly over the past 70 years largely due to immigration and Swedes travelling abroad. In comparison, Swedish cuisine traditionally uses less spice with the focus placed on drawing out and emphasising the taste of each ingredient. In Sweden, Husmanskost denotes traditional Swedish dishes with local ingredients, which is also recognized as the classical everyday Swedish cuisine. Genuine Swedish Husmanskost uses predominantly local ingredients such as pork in all forms, fish, cereals, milk, potato, root vegetables, cabbage, onions, apples and berries. Smorgasbord is another Swedish national delicacy. Scandinavian meal served buffet-style, it is served with multiple dishes of various foods on a table. Being typical Swede celebratory meal, it is in fact the origin of today’s buffet culture.
Swedish diet is also focused on nutritional value and natural preservation as much as Korea in order to maintain the freshness and health benefits. Due to a typical Northern European climate, fresh food from summer often was naturally preserved through fermentation to prepare for and survive through a long winter. Swedish people have been continuously producing and consuming fermented and naturally preserved food. A representative fermented food in Sweden is Surstromming, which is fermented herring. Just like fermented Skate that many Koreans enjoy, Surstromming is a representative naturally preserved dish in Sweden. In addition, another typical Swedish fermented food product is Fil(Viili), a mesophilic fermented milk which is a type of yogurt.
Apart from consuming healthy diet full of vitamin and adequate mineral contents, Sweden has been at the forefront of developing functional foods since the mid 1990s. Effective government regulations have made Swedish food one of the safest in the world. Standardization of symbols that identify foods that are low-fat, and ecologically certified, and produce food products abroad under humane working conditions are some of the efforts made. Such regulations particularly encouraged many Swedish companies to support in producing healthy food products and develop technology and system to maintain food products well.
Development for food safety has been at the epicenter of the food industry with recognized technological advancements such as the “Aseptic Technology,” pioneered by the Swedish multinational food processing and packaging solutions company, Tetra Pak, changed the way food stuffs were processed, packaged and distributed. This Aseptic technology allows food products to be kept at room temperature without the need for preservatives and refrigeration, maintaining the products’ full health benefits. This technology helps products to be minimally affected by the heating process, thus ensuring flavour retention, nutritional properties and product quality.
Both Korea and Sweden have been heavily engaged in producing healthy food products and developing supporting technologies and advancing the industrial leadership. Moreover, there is recognition of the importance of balancing healthy diet with fitness and passion for outdoor activities. I’m glad to witness such movements towards leading a healthy lifestyle, and I hope to see more investments and involvements in this field by the society, industries and government for the future of our children.