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FOR OUR ancestors, the lives we lead today would be nothing less than a wildest dream. Those poor creatures who skied here in pursuit of elks once the ice age ended would surely flip if they saw how much food we have now. In pre-Christian Finland, a banquet of meaty treats was once a post-hunt ritual. Today, anyone is free to turn every meal of the day into a veritable flesh-fest, swapping decidedly more delicious cream for the once-popular seal oil condiment. And they need not even venture beyond centrally heated conditions. Revolutionary.

There is a clear divide between the East and West of Finland: a cultural line which runs coast to coast from approximately the middle of Northern Ostrobothnia to the middle of Kainuu and east of Uusimaa. In creating a strong culture of their own, the Finns have welcomed and incorporated elements from two neighbouring ones. You can see it in the way they stack their wood piles, how they prepare their evening meal and whether they serve tea or coffee.

We all eat – Duh! But what do we consider acceptable to eat? Every indivual has his or her unique likes and dislikes. In addition, our eating habits are affected by culture, religion, economic circumstances and where we live.

Or perhaps what we choose to eat goes merely in passing phases, as my grandmother still keeps telling herself about my vegetarianism. It has only been 12 years since I stopped eating meat, and no Nana, I still won’t eat even ”a little bit of ham.” We are often quick to criticise what others eat, but how do we define what is acceptable?