...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Inventive inventions #2: the Tetra Pak

According to observation and statistics, it seems that most Scandinavians drink milk with meals throughout adulthood. Finns reportedly drink 117 liters per capita per year and Swedes (at number 4 in the world's milk consumer list) consume almost 94 liters per capita per year, compared to the 57-liter average all over the E.U. and the scant 2.5 liters drunk in China. So it seems quite natural that milk cartons should be invented in Sweden, under a brand name we know so well as Tetra Pak. The air-tight milk cartons which made milk transportation and distribution much easier (in comparison to the old glass bottles which the milkman filled up every morning) eventually made inventor Ruben Rausing the richest man in Sweden for a time.

Just looking at last month's refrigerator contents, I can imagine how that could be...

From left to right on the heavily-loaded middle shelf: quark (not in a tetra pack, but is also a milk product, i.e. a kind of soft cheese used for baking), soy milk, mild yogurt (also one of the ingredients for our healthy bread), low lactose milk (for yours truly, for obvious reasons), standard 3% milk, fil (sour cultured milk, I think translated as buttermilk by some)... Just some of the things you can fit in tetra pack, not to mention cream, soups, and juices, and all the things enumerated below.

I wasn't able to mention it in my very first food journal on dairy, but with the sheer amount of milk products available at the supermarket, I actually had a hard time in the groceries here in my first months. Want milk for cereals? There's a choice of 3.8%, 3.0%, 1.5%, 0.5% and 0.1% fat content. That's not mentioning the ecological (organic) variants of each of those choices, a low-lactose option for the 1.5% milk, and two variants of "long-keeping" UHT milk (otherwise, fresh milk keeps only for a week at most). The yogurt conundrum isn't any easier: there's natural 3% yogurt, natural 1.5% yogurt, mild natural 1.5% yogurt, and ecological mild natural yogurt -- just to mention the unflavored yogurts available. The fruit- or honey- flavoured yougurts also have additional calcium- or friendly bacteria-added variants. And to confuse you even more, buying fil (it's good on cereals) is yet another hard decision, with even more fat content, lactose content, friendly bacteria and flavor choices in ecological or long-keeping varieties. Consumer freedom is such a burden!

It didn't help when I didn't know much Swedish and I couldn't choose by brand either because everything (save two or three choices) is produced by Arla, a giant cooperative that includes more than 9,000 Swedish dairy farms around the country and almost 5,000 Danish dairy farms, and their packages looked somewhat the same. Nowadays though, I just stick to the "tested" dairy choices, i.e. those that I know are suitable for my non-Scandinavian stomach.

Boat repair update: Things get even more interesting as we work with making plastic-and-fiberglass parts - highly carcinogenic, so one needs a gas mask. We're not done making all the floor boards, so I'll probably have the chance to take pictures and describe the process some other time. Anyhow, plastics are cool, and you get the idea that you can build anything you want with a bucket of liquid polyester. 8-)


Blogger Christianne said...

Can you eat fil by itself? Hindi ko kaya, I have to add sugar. But come to think of it, kaya ko ang asim ng manggang hilaw, so kaartehan lang siguro ito on my part :D

Don't you love those Arla commercials? And I get excited when I see the Arla truck delivering milk, ewan ko kung bakit. I love Arla!

And it's that time of the day when I am incapable of making any sense. That means it's time to sleep. Good night :)

11:25 PM

Anonymous pj said...

Okay, that's something I didn't know, that the tetra pak is swedish! hihi.
I don't know if you know, but I'm a milk fiend, and your ennumeration of all the dairy products available in Sweden got my moth watering. Agh! I love dairy. And fil/buttermilk is great for making cakes, they make the cake fluffier and lighter :)

3:32 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hej Christianne! I use "lactolite" fil, which is somewhat sweeter than ordinary fil, and eat it with Start, the sweetest musli in the market. Heheheh. After eating oatmeal porridge for breakfast for almost half a year last year, this is my calorie comeback >:-D

Hej Peej! Yeah, I found some recipes in English that calls for buttermilk (like lemon cakes) and I guess I'll have to try them some day :-) Yumyumyum!

12:49 PM

Blogger Christianne said...

Ah, ma-try nga yung lactolite. Speaking of sweet muesli, I'm addicted to ICA's crunchy muesli med jordgubb & yogurtsmak, yum yum yum! Ang dami lang ngang sugar! Masubukan din nga yang Start :D

3:36 PM

Blogger carlo said...

Joy! Nakakaaliw na naman ang post mo, hahaha! I love milk and milk-based food. Settles my stomach at night too! :)

12:27 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Christianne: Perhaps I should try that. I like strawberries!

Carlo: Whee! I'm happy you dropped by my blog. I check your blog often for some updates from you, but it seems you're either working too hard or enjoying Singapore too much. Heheh. ;-)

9:04 PM


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