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Grapes sold with toilet bleach as Swede launches eco war

A supermarket has put chemically-sprayed fruit on the same shelf as cleaning products as part of a campaign to encourage Swedes to buy and sell ecological goods and label foods fairly.

Grapes sold with toilet bleach as Swede launches eco war
Customers looking for non-organic green grapes at the store in Täby, Stockholm, were surprised to find them stacked up close to bleach, toilet fresheners and washing powders as the new week got under way, alongside a strongly-worded message.
 
“Hi! We have chosen not to sell ordinary grapes. We have placed these regular grapes here to show how much chemical spray there is on them. You will find only ecological grapes at Hemköp Alléns,” read the note.
 
The manager of the store, which is part of the nationwide Hemköp supermarket chain but is independently owned, told The Local that he was attempting to “get into the media in a funny way and reach as many people as possible”.
 
“There are a lot of chemicals in the grapes so why not put these chemicals together with the other chemicals,” said Joakim Skotte.
 
“They should not be with the other fruits – with the apples and bananas – because there are so many chemicals in the grapes.”
 

The store's manager Joakim Skotte. Photo: Private
 
The businessman said he was hoping to encourage other Hemköp outlets to follow suit, as part of an ongoing campaign to promote ecological goods.
 
His store was also the first in Sweden to sell only organic bananas three years ago, a move which was later adopted by branches of the company nationwide.
 
“This is statement number two,” said Skotte.
 
Asked why the supermarket was still selling strong cleaning products, while running a campaign against other kinds of chemical sprays, the 29-year-old said that he was simply trying to tackle one green issue at a time.
 
“There is so much to do in Swedish stores, so you have to start somewhere. The bananas and the grapes are things that kids are consuming very often, so we start with the kids,” he added.
 
The father-of-two said he had been inspired by his love for his own children and wanted other kids to benefit from eating products farmed organically, without the use of chemical sprays.
 
“The kids are not buying this themselves, they have no choice, it is their parents' [choice],” he told The Local.
 
His ambition for the initiative to go viral was swiftly achieved, with news stories about the grape stunt on Monday only beaten in terms of likes and shares by those featuring Sweden's new Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, according to social media site Socialanyheter.
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The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.

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