Most of the Estonians prefer pure domestic products and it is therefore no wonder that new shops and restaurants offering organic food are opening and the existing ones are expanding.
Farming has always been part of the land and local culture but especially during the Soviet years, people had to find ways of diversifying their menu. People grew their own fruits and vegetables and made their own jams and compotes, pickled and salted.
Our mothers never talked about organic food because they knew of no other. Even today gardens in our summer houses are fertilized with manure, cabbageworms are hand picked and shame on you if you sprinkle your apple trees with chemical pesticides. The organic food issue was brought up only when the rest of the world started to demand healthy and organically produced products. It is true, however, that after the borders opened, for a short while Estonians worshipped the waxed imported pears, sponge cakes with an indefinite storage life and syrups packed with artificial colours.
As a result, we now have to deal with the consequences - as more and more children have developed allergies. But, nevertheless, we are better off than most Europeans. According to recent studies 47 per cent of Estonians prefer domestic products while the average figure for the EU is 21 per cent. Today pasteurised yoghurts and instant soups full of sodium glutamate are hard to sell, as Estonian milk products, rye bread, meat, vegetables and even candies are pure and of high quality.
If you want to test the local prowess of an Estonian waiter or a cook ask him what is Estonian food. It is everything that grows in Estonia, in its waters, woods and farms. Generally speaking Estonians have similar taste to Nordic people. We like crisp, unprocessed, fresh, ecologically clean and homely food, i.e. food where the most is made of the natural taste of the raw materials.