Another Odd Norwegian Scandal: Purreløk i Plast


If you’ve been reading the newspapers lately you noticed that there are pictures of leeks all over the place (purreløk = leek in English = poireau in French). This seems just like another vegetable, you would think. Right now in Norway it THE current storm because Bama, a Norwegian company, started selling leeks individually in a plastic and cut the top dark green part of it instead of selling it lose.

Believe it or not, this lady started a campaigns with her daughter against leeks in plastic, and she went on TV to say how provoqued they had been seeing these vegetables in plastic, without their dark green leefs (you know, that top part no one eats anyway. Oh wait, it is useful, you can scratch your cat with it!).


Then, more than 10,000 persons liked the campaign page on facebook and blogs started talking about it (yes well, no exception here), but especially mammablogs in this case, where everyone goes with their opinion: pro or con packages leeks. It seems like every single newspaper and TV channel is talking about this right now in Norway, from NRK with their article “say no to amputated leeks”. Jesus how dramatic! remember it’s a VEGETABLE; to E24 with “I don’t know what I should call this product, but it was written “leek” on the package”.

In the meantime I can’t help wonder: Isn’t this going just a little out of proportions? More importantly, I am puzzled about this and have many questions to Norwegian people:

1) I am definitely against the over-use of plastic in food packaging, but I can’t help wonder why on Earth this is suddenly such a scandal with leeks: almost every vegetable is under plastic in Norway and sold individually. It is one of the first things that actually did shock me when I went into a Norwegian supermarket: Aubergines/eggplant, zucchini, coliflower (blomkål), cabbage (kål) and so on. While in the South of France where I come from these vegetables are super cheap, super fresh because produced locally, and sold loosely by the kilo. So if every other vegetable is already sold in plastic, what is the big deal about leeks? I just don’t understand.

2) Most of the food and even the vegetables we eat are transformed, packages, modified, cut, cleaned etc. sometimes in several different countries at every step of the way before it gets into our plates. Not only are many products over packaged, but sometimes a lot of energy is also used to transport them from where it is cheaper to produce, transform and sell them. So, are Norwegian shocked at packaged leek only or is this going to become a general campaign against packaged vegetables in supermarkets? Is this the beginning of a bigger campaign against all types of over-packaging and unnecessary transformations of our vegetables: carrots under plastic, pre-cooked beetroots and orphan genetically modified corn?

3) I can’t help being a little shocked myself by this. I mean seriously. I love the concept of regular citizens taking over a case and making a public campaign out of it, but aren’t there other relevant and burning issues right now to get shocked over? Let’s not even talk about real wars and real Syrian orphans and let’s stick to the Norwegian food industry. I was sitting next to a Norwegian girl in the train who had four times the accepted level of mercury in her blood because of consumption of too much Norwegian fish. Isn’t that worth talking about in every single Norwegian newspaper? What about the thousands of pre-prepared meals Norwegians eat every day, consuming high dosis of preservatives, sugar and modified fat? I won’t og on with what we give to eat to the animals we eat, you know the story. Does this mean that Norwegians have become food-conscious and will start challenging the quality and producing of everything else that isn’t a leek?

What gives me hope is that this scandal is the proof that virtually anyone can start a public debate in Norway about almost anything and potentially change things. As you can imagine after this news storm, Bama has taken its product off the market. ooouufff now we can move on to zucchinis.

A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book

14 thoughts on “Another Odd Norwegian Scandal: Purreløk i Plast

  1. Let’s hope that the norwegian minds are really changing for what matters! But actually, I have a question: do you know if the supermarkets in Norway re-use the food that is (or is almost) passed out? Do they distribute the food by people that needs it? Do they turn it in energy or even animal food?
    Thanks for sharing your mindview of Norway.

    1. Most things that are about to go out on date are put on sale to get them away, and when they do go out.
      A) The workers take it home
      B) Some shops gives you the item if you find anything that is out on date still in the shelfs.
      C) It get thrown away, what happens to it after that is up to the garbage people, and as far as I know we have some places that turns the garbage into energy.

      Some things I learned after 3 summers at SPAR

      1. *I think that’s not 100% true, at least up north. There, everything lands in the dumpster and usually employees are officially not aloud to take it home (but might have nice bosses who close their eyes on that). Anyways, it’s dumpster diver’s paradise up there!

  2. Haha, to answer your question: I think not.
    Today was the end of yesterday.
    Tomorrow will be another scandal.

    For two years ago it was the lack of butter due to lack of milk and cows, and we bought imported butter from France, with was a house-mother-wife scandal because the Christmas backing didn’t taste the same with french butter. (It was no offense to french butter, it just wasn’t norwegian butter, and it was Christmas). I don’t remember who we blamed and hanged because of the cow-problem. But I do remember a poster photographed by a friend in London, where they put one sarcastic “help the poor children in Africa”-style ad in Oxford street saying: “Donate your butter to butter-hungry Norwegians!”

  3. Congrats! You have just experienced a product of Duste-Norge, a dark part of Norway, where the population are homourless and hysterical. The region’s main production is creating oversized meaning of small things, way beyond any propotion, while more important things in life an society are being neglected. The production is fast and volumnious, and the products, some known as “agurknytt” or “kjendisstoff”, is exported as an basic ingredient in most norwegian newspapers and blogs.

    Now then, if Duste-Norge only could give some treatment to that lousy boil-in-bag-rice problem, the region might be considered as useful.

  4. Norwegians throw away an insane amount of food every year, so it’s a bit ironic that the main thing with the wraped leeks is: What happens to the tops? When it turned out they were thrown away – scandal!!! Kind of like the muffin top episode of Seinfelt 😉

  5. I’m quite happy that someone reacted to SOMETHING. Yes it’s all good and well to support other charities, and many do, but fighting small battles on the home front that can be won I think is the key to changing the whole world for the better. I WISH someone would take up the problem about other food packaging (and packaging in general for that matter) in lieu of the floating rubbish dumps around the world’s oceans… If we have no planet, then helping animals and humans won’t actually do any good. I worry about the future. But small things like the purreløk battle actually make me smile. 🙂

  6. Maybe they grow leek locally in Norway, making it unnecessary to preserve using plastic bags?

  7. I think it was because they actually upped the price of the product, if you count it pound per pound, and it’s also very unnecessary.
    But I don’t eat that stuff, as a proper Norwegian, I eat Pølse and Grandis ^^

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