The “Ø-mærke” is a Danish eco-label used to mark food that is organic. From its very introduction, it has been of great importance to the credibility of the inspection of organic foods in Denmark. The red Ø logo shows that the latest preparation of the product has taken place in a Danish company inspected by the public authorities. Inspection of organic foods in Denmark applies to all stages from stable to table.
Most every Dane recognizes the red logo above placed on many everyday food products. It’s not really looked at as something extra “special” because it’s really the norm here to have organic options on almost all food products. In fact, it may come as a surprise but Denmark is a world-leader in organic food production and consumption.
According to the organization Organic Denmark, whose aim is to promote organic foods and support the export of organic Danish products: Denmark sells more organic products per capita than any other country in the world, was the first country in the world to establish governmental rules for organic production in 1987 and state-control of organic foodstuffs and producers, and has seen a tripling of exports from 2005-2009. The famous logo was adopted in 1989. Also, mass-consumption has risen by 83 percent since 2003 with organic dairy having a 35 percent market share, the largest organic sector. Demand for Danish products is expected to top DKK 1 billion (134 mil EUR) in 2012.
Most would agree that the organic dairy products in the Nordics in particular are quite special – mainly milk, butter and cheese. Many know of the famous Danish Lurpak, and of course Danish butter cookies. In fact, the Norwegian milk, Tine milk, is some of the best you can get! My personal favorite dairy in Denmark is Øllingegaard Dairy in northern Zealand. A couple of reasons for Denmark, as well as the other Nordic countries, having great organic dairy products are the climate (with mild temps and even rainfall) and fertile soil. Denmark in particular has a long history in dairy making.
If you’re interested in learning more, visit the Danish Dairy Board.
As far as the use of organic products in food preparation in Denmark is concerned, The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries introduced new logos for organic food products used in kitchens, restaurants, cafés, hospitals, schools and larger businesses back in 2009. Since it’s so difficult to precisely measure the level or organic food use in such settings, three labels with ranges from 30-60, 60-90, or 90-100 percent are used.
Further info on Danish organic food production can be found HERE. And if you are hungry for more, info on the actual rules and inspection for organic products in Denmark, download the brochure, “Organic Foods from Denmark.” News on the organic industry can be found at the http://www.organic.dk/ website as well!
A couple other logos of interest relating to ethical and eco-friendly food production that can be found on Danish products also include:
The Swan logo has been the official Nordic Eco-label ever since the Nordic Council of Ministers introduced it in 1989. Products marked with this label indicate that they are among the least polluting products in the various categories. There is a long list of terms and conditions for specific product categories.
The Flower has been the symbol of the European Eco-label since 1992, and it is a voluntary scheme designed to encourage businesses to market products and services that are environmentally friendly.
If you’re visiting Denmark, and want to know where you can go to dine where there is a focus on organic ingredients, you can find a listing on Visit Denmark’s site. I have been to BioMio, a certified organic restaurant with a very hip and modern setting, and really enjoyed their brunch. If you want to visit some organic farms or pick some of your own fruit, see the blog, “Fruit Picking & Organic Farms in Denmark” for some listings.
And finally, there is pretty comprehensive overview of the organic scene in the Nordics is outlined in this article, “Nordic countries unified at BioFach,” summarizing Nordic exhibitors at the annual BioFach trade show, the world’s biggest organic trade fair in Nuremburg. I think organic and Danmark go together because, as Organic Denmark puts it, “purity, simplicity and freshness,” are what describe the essence of the Nordics in our approach to food, and the ideas behind New Nordic, which I will write more on in another blog on another day!