The connection between farm and plate is tenuous. It’s hard to imagine that all those neatly trimmed, film wrapped, skinless chicken fillets once had feathers and a beak. For most people, the closest they come to getting their feet muddy is playing Farmville on Facebook (give me a ring mum, I’ll explain what that means).
And, quite frankly, that’s ok. I’m not about to start lecturing about how we should stop shopping in supermarkets, start eating real food, blah, blah, blah. We’ve all heard enough of that, and most of us have jobs, kids and find the supermarket affordable and convenient. Those of us who want to give up the supermarket, probably already have.
However, sometimes it is nice (and remarkably rewarding) to get out there and track down some original food shopping experiences; whether it’s in the middle of the city (increasingly easy these days) or out at the source, in the country.
We are lucky enough to live outside of the city (my colleagues call it ‘the country’ because it’s 30 minutes by train from downtown Stockholm. Stockholmers are so cute) and there is an abundance of farms within a stone’s throw. Unfortunately, most don’t have the resources to set up shop selling directly to the public.
On Saturday I chanced upon a great farm, about 10 minutes by car from us. Ironically, I spotted an advert for it when I was in our local sausage stand, buying the kids lunch. A Swedish sausage stand (the national fast-food staple) is about as far removed from real food as grape juice is from fine wine. Nevertheless, there it was, that advert, trying to convert the heathens. The kids and I decided to take a visit; just as soon as we had finished our hamburgers, fries and Coke.
The advert (actually, it was more of a postcard) said “always open, but ring ahead, just in case”, so I did. Gunnar, the farmer, couldn’t have been more pleased. He gave me directions, and promised to be waiting.
We found the place eventually: a ragged, ramshackle old farm yard with rusty machinery dotted about and a distinct smell of manure in the air. Perfect. After a little searching we located what appeared to be the farm shop. It looked distinctly closed. Just then Gunnar (I assumed it was Gunnar) popped his head round from behind a hefty looking tractor. “I haven’t opened up yet,” he said. “Go past the tractor, turn left and have a look at my goats.” We obliged. The goats were cute. The kids loved them. I left them there.
Gunnar’s farm shop was little more than a converted shed with a few old fridges and straw on the floor. Exactly what I was after. It turns out that he too, is a small production farmer, with a few grass-fed cows that roam year-round in the field near where we had parked our car; proper organic, free-range beef. But Gunnar is a man on a mission. He slaughters his cows himself, then ages the meat, the majority going to a handful of Stockholm’s best restaurants. The rest he sells from his little shop. He also sells duck eggs, chickens, pork meat and sausages, all of which he collects from neighboring small producers. The result is a sort of farmers’ collective, with Gunnar as the end supplier.
I asked him if he sold his goats for meat. The kids were quietly shocked. I told him that goat meat is delicious as goat curry. The kids left the building in horror. I bought three kilos of chuck steak, two kilos of mince, one whole sirloin, two chickens, eight wild boar sausages, eight beef sausages and six duck eggs. I was happy.
We had scrambled duck eggs and beef sausage for Sunday breakfast and all was well. The kids now want to keep goats in the back garden. I was with them all the way until I suggested that we could eat them, too. Then they weren’t so keen.
Best stick to Gunnar’s beef and eggs; one step in the right direction, anyway.
If you’re ever near my house, you should call in with a bottle of wine. More importantly, you should swing by Gunnar’s place. You’ll find him at www.lundbygard.se. Supermarkets are great. Gunnar’s is best.
By the way, at the time of writing I haven’t yet tried Gunnar’s beef. But I can report that it looks amazing. I’ll let you know.
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