Over spring break I was lucky enough to visit Iceland and explore all of its natural beauties. For lunch one day, I visited Friðheimar, a restaurant and greenhouse all in one. This environmentally friendly restaurant takes on unique and sustainable methods in how they produce and serve the food they grow. The basis of the menu relies on one main ingredient: tomatoes. With the use of geothermal power and hydro-electricity, this greenhouse grows tomatoes year round. 

Olivia Elizalde

The Science Of Tomato Farming

Friðheimar uses green energy that includes both hydro-electricity and geothermal power combined with high pressure sodium lights (HPS) grow lights to produce their bright red, plump tomatoes year-round. Then, to ensure the photosynthesis process is efficient, carbon dioxide from geothermal steam is used. As for the soil in which the tomato plants are grow in, peat bags are used as an alternative to dirt. To keep the pests away, biological control methods are used instead of pesticides, such as the mirid bug. In addition, and my personal favorite implement, bumblebees are used to pollinate the tomato plants to allow them to thrive. The tomatoes grown in this sustainable, eco-friendly greenhouse also make for delicious meals. 

Olivia Elizalde
Olivia Elizalde

The Menu and Scenery

The menu relies on the basis of tomatoes. Options for the entrees included mussels in a tomato sauce, ravioli in a tomato pasta sauce, and a pizza with not only a tomato sauce, but also fresh tomatoes on top. There was also the option of a tomato soup and bread buffet–yes, all you can eat bread. I decided on the ravioli, while my family chose the pizza and mussels. Although these dishes seem to be common or simple, the flavors in each dish were bold thanks to the tomatoes in them. The fresh taste of the tomatoes penetrated each meal. The ravioli filling was cheese and basil with a tomato pasta sauce and pesto sauce at the bottom. It was topped with fresh cucumber, basil, and tomatoes also grown in the greenhouse. I am a huge pasta fan, and this dish did not disappoint.  

In the restaurant, I was seated in between the walls of the tomato vines. The vines were close enough to touch. Fresh basil and scissors were provided at each table for extra herbal seasoning. Being able to dine in the greenhouse allowed me and all fo the guests to be a part of the restaurant's mission of sustainability and environmentally friendliness. It provided a close connected feeling to the goal of being eco-friendly. I was able to experience the knowledge of not only knowing where the food that I ate came from, but also the techniques behind how it was grown and produced. Not a lot of people can say that they have done the same.

Olivia Elizalde

The Benefits of Going Green

There are a multitude of benefits of sustainable dining or eco-friendly food choices, and more people should use the techniques that Friðheimar implements in their growing processes. Many are quick to assume it will be expensive and steer away from this approach. While it may be costly, when it comes down to it, the final price of unsustainable sources of energy such as fossil fuels outweigh the price of sustainable resources like hydro-electricity. Crops can be grown during off seasons and yields will be higher. This restaurant made me look back at how little consumers know about the "backstory" of the food they consume. For most Americans, they eat whatever is cheap and quick. This small country of Iceland highlights what's better for us as humans and what's important: knowing where your food is coming from, how it is made or produced, and the technology or science behind it all. This can give consumers a new frame of mind and allow them to rethink what they put in their bodies. My experience of knowing how my food was grown and where it came from while consuming it did just that. 

When In Iceland...

While it may not be at the top of your bucket list, Iceland offers more than expected. There was always unique experiences, including this sustainable, eco-friendly restaurant. If you ever make it to Iceland, go to Friðheimar. Your experience will make you rethink your food habits and, more importantly, want more tomatoes!