65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 17

65° - 01.09.1967, Blaðsíða 17
and 88% used electricity for cooking. These figures have improved since, and now some 97% of the population have access to electricity. The 18th century can be defined as a period of semi-starvation and even real starvation in the last years, and food was of low quality at all times. Laws have been preserved showing the minimum quantities and qualities of food to be given to dependent people and workers. A further problem was the need to preserve foods for long periods. Then and now, the main slaughtering period is in the early winter, so that from October onwards only preserved food (except for fish at some places) were and are available. Even fresh milk products were not always obtainable, as cows milked badly during the winter months. In the south of Iceland the normal morning meal until late into the 19th century consisted of a bowl of warm milk to which a spoonful of sour skyr (curd cheese) was added. Ewes were milked as well as cows until the beginning of this century, in some parts of the country. The evening meal consisted of some kind of porridge. In coastal places fish was eaten at all meals. At midday, in the interior, air-dried fish was eaten with butter along with some flat bread cakes. Sometimes the meal consisted of meat and soup. Bread was a luxury. Most of the imported flour (Iceland does not grow cereals now and nearly none before) was used in some porridge types. The scarcity of bread is shown in the House- hold Laws which stated that children should be given some bread at Christmas. Bread was un- leavened, baked or boiled in the shape of flat cakes. In times of shortage all kinds of unusual ingredients such as fish roes, grains of various grasses, mosses and seaweeds, were added to bread and porridge. Vegetables were grown in a few places in the 18th century and potatos were introduced then, but even today these have to be imported part of the year. Nowadays, Icelanders belong to the select group of well-fed nations. In 1965 Icelanders spent $372 per person for food. We have to remember, though, as food tends to be expensive, that the expense by itself does not give a complete picture. The quality of food is now very high and the protein intake one of the highest in the world. Fish is still an important part of the diet, and in 1965, Icelanders used more than 63 kg. of fresh fish per person and 6 kg. of salt fish. Meat has become available to everyone now, though it is not eaten daily, and about 50 kg. per person were consumed in 1965. Milk and milk products play a very large role in the Icelandic diet. In 1965, Icelanders drank about 311 liters of fresh milk each, used 5.7 kg. of butter (and well double that quantity of other fats), ate nearly 10 kg. of skyr and other cheeses a year, and some 120 eggs per year. Bread left the luxury definition a long time ago. Luxuries in the bread line are now cakes and biscuits, and $32 were spent on these alone per person. Today’s luxuries cover a long list and only a few will be mentioned here. Sugar and coffee are consumed in great quantities and so are the sugar derivatives, jams, chocolate and sweets of many kinds. Fruits and vegetables are now generally available and $55 per head were spent on these in 1965. Alcoholic drinks have always been im- portant, and $49 per person were spent on these, and just over $20 for carbonated and similar drinks. The tobacco expenditure was the equival- ent of 65 packs of cigarettes per person. Clothing has improved very much and very quickly in the last years, each Icelander spending about $187 in 1965 for clothing, footwear and clothing materials. In real terms this means that a coat, a dress or suit, two pairs of shoes and some underwear could have been purchased. The greatest changes, however, have been in transportation. Iceland has no railways, and un- til this century all transport was by foot, on horseback or by boat from port to port. The introduction of motor transport represented a real revolution. The number of motor vehicles was only 2000 in 1939, but on January 1, 1967, a total of 39 687 was registered. Of these, 32 515 were passenger cars, or one car for just over six persons. Air travel is also popular. In 1966, 19 646 Icelanders, i.e. about 10% of the people flew abroad. Even in the most difficult times in her history, Icelanders have gone abroad to study or work. Today many go for pleasure, and in 1965 Icelanders spent an average $43 for personal trips or study abroad. 65 15



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