Organic production & Greek Diet
The Greek farmer has always followed traditional methods of production, and the absence of large factory farms, has maintained the family run smallholdings system.
It was only in the 60s & 70s that technology & the use of pesticides and fertilizers, that promised to increase production and minimize the risk of plant disease, lured some farmers away from the way their ancestors were working the land.
However, Greece is a country with a small industry, a largely unspoiled countryside, and a climate that has no equal the world over. The combination of all three with the right type of soil, created the superb quality the Greek products are famous for. The adoption of Organic cultivation, or it is more appropriate to say, the return to tradition, added the seal of approval to what was already pure, natural and wholesome.
The Certifying organizations, "DIO","Phisiologiki","BIO" and "AGROCERT", apply internationally approved methods of inspection & Certification, and are members of International Organic Bodies.
YOUR FOOD IS YOUR MEDICINE "Hippocrates"It is the Greek diet that has the uninterrupted continuity of many historical periods, from the bronze age to Classical and Hellenistic periods, and from the Byzantium to the days of our grandmothers.
It is characteristic that the eating habits of the Byzantines were adopted by the nomadic people of the Ottoman Empire and re-appear today at our table as "Eastern delicacies", with Turkish names...
Even the French cuisine has its origin in the sweet and savory sauces of Ancient Greece and the Byzantium.
The purity of Greek products, the richness in vitamin content and their superb taste, constitutes a model for the followers of healthy nutrition, and a subject of scientific research.
The Greek diet that has attracted international interest and not the general and vague "Mediterranean",which has been used by various competitors in the field of nutrition, and started with the now famous "Study of the seven countries".
This study was contacted by Prof. Ancel Keys over a period of 15 years, by monitoring the traditional lifestyles of 10,000 middle age men from each of the seven countries (Finland Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, USA and former Yugoslavia), chosen by the researcher, and the effect it had on their health.
The results were incredible!
Over the experiment period, 2,288 men died from heart disease. Of this number, only 9 deaths occurred amongst the Greek sample, while the number in other Mediterranean countries was 184 deaths.
As a result of this fact, the French Professor Serge Renaud carried out another experiment in France, using two groups of patients that had already suffered a first heart attack. He put the first group on a fat-free diet, while the second was put on a traditional Greek diet.
After 27 months, 16 patients of the first group died from a second heart attack, while another 38 suffered non fatal heart attacks. The second group only suffered 3 deaths and 8 non fatal heart attacks.
The traditional Greek diet is present continually for at least 5,000 years with little change and is depended on local production, seasonal produce, local habits and religious instruction.
It mainly consists of olive oil, cereals, bread, pulses, vegetables, fruit, and small quantities of eggs, cheese, milk, meat, fish and a little red wine with each meal.
In years gone-by, transporting of goods was not easy in a mountainous country with many islands, so food produced locally, constituted the bulk of the diet, with the addition of products un-effected from long periods en-transit, like rice, legumes, and dried fruit and nuts, as well as salted or smoked fish or meat.
The consumption of meat was rear and reserved for Sundays and Holidays, while fish was consumed more often especially in the costal areas and the islands.
This tradition was formed over the years, not only as a result of the availability of products, but also due to the regulation of the Christian Orthodox Church, that forbids the consumption of animal products over long periods (ex. 40 days before Christmas and 40 days before Easter, as well as a number of other occasions).
A special mention must be made on four commodities so important to the Greek lifestyle. Olive oil, bread,cheese and coffee.
The Greeks consume more olive oil,bread and cheese than any other country in the world, with 25ltrs more than 100kg and 23kg, per person, per year.
There is no space for me to mention in detail the benefits of olive oil to the human health and its role in preventing cardiovascular disease, breast, skin, stomach and intestinal cancer and a number of other ailments. Scientific research has long established these facts.
In this modern time, when the exchange of information is done with the speed of light, fast food is as great a danger to the health of our young people, as smoking, or the use of alcohol or drugs.
In this age of computerization and space travel, life in the Greek villages evolves in a slow pace, centered in the "Kaffenio" (or the local coffee shop), where usually old men (and sometimes women these days), sit drinking their coffee, discuss and have solutions for all the problems of the world. They continue a tradition that started in 1475 with the opening by Greeks of the first "Kaffenio" in the world, in Constantinople (Istanbul). The coffee is prepared in the same way now, as then!
I could continue writing about Greece, its culture, tradition and gastronomy. Greece goes back 10,000 years and cannot be covered in one or two pages.
Of course, Greece is not only about food. The Greek thinking that inspired the world and created western civilization, is as active today, as it was in the Classical Greece of the 5th century B.C.. The values held sacred by them, are as important today, and reemerged last year in Athens, where the youth of the world competed for the olive branch of Heracles.