Today, this form of contact with the primary producers of food has been lost. In order to achieve this level of acquaintance with today’s food producers, one needs to either fraternize with industrialists and the CEOs of multinationals, or dedicate their lives to scanning the countryside for pure flavours. The situation looks irreversible and food-producers which we can put a face and name are becoming more and more rare.
Nevertheless, there is one thing that hasn’t been lost and that is the opportunity offered by the Mediterranean climate and buying patterns, that favour involvement with agriculture and keep traditions alive, to resist the full industrialization of food and explore new ways or revive old ones.
One solution that is literally at our feet, is local open-air markets (laiki agora). Here, one can find seasonal fruits and vegetables at good prices and of better quality than supermarket products. For even higher respect towards seasonality and a lower use of chemicals, one can opt for the biological/organic markets that can be found in different parts of the city, on specific days of the week. It is important to note that these markets can provide you with herbs, spices and even fish.
Another way of getting closer to the producer, is to buy meat at neighbourhood butcher shops; you can find fresh, local meats from small producers who guarantee better breeding and living conditions for their animals, as compared with large industries. In such places, don’t hesitate to ask for documentation that proves the claimed origin of the products.
Finally, don’t forget that many small producers from around Greece use the coaches or ferries that connect cities to send their products to private customers; so if you really liked the cheese that Mr. Kostas made on the island you visited during the summer, don’t forget to ask him for his phone number and bank account for your future orders.
We are lucky that there are still ways to ensure the existence of pure food products on our table; we just have to learn to measure the importance of things like our nutrition and consciously turn our backs on the ease of supermarket buying. Doing this will reward us with more genuine, tasteful flavours, and a deeper relationship with the food we share with our loved ones.