Today, Iceland's geographic isolation—plus strict government environmental regulations—helps it produce some of the purest foods on the planet. Grass-fed cows make milk that's high in beta carotene, creating exceptional butter and cheese as well as the yogurt-like skyr. Family farms sell tender meat from lambs that have grazed in the mountains all summer on moss, scrub and wildflowers.
"Our food doesn't come from industrial farms, it comes from family farms," says Icelandic chef Siggi Hall, an outspoken promoter of his country's ingredients. Now that those ingredients are coming to the U.S.—Whole Foods is the exclusive importer of many of them—it's become easier for Americans to eat more like Icelanders.