Crete’s Bounty

19 July 2008, by

I have been avoiding writing about the food here…probably because I spend all my days thinking about it for my thesis. But now that the end is in sight, I thought it would make sense to talk a little about what I have been doing with my days.

March laiki agora purchase.My thesis supposes that the food system of Crete is well situated to be a model of sustainability — at least for κηπευτικά (fruits and vegetables grown in the field). The farms on Crete are small (never larger than two hectares or four acres) and diverse (usually a farm will have an area for trees – olives and citrus fruit – and fields for vegetables as well as some chickens and goats or lamb for household use). And, since it is an island, the great majority of the food consumed here is produced here. That’s not to say Greece is without problems; chemical fertilizer and pesticide use has increased significantly, especially in the last 10 years. And with the ever rising price of oil, these petrochemicals are getting more and more costly and farmers are finding it harder and harder to make a profit. With this study, I am looking into ways to keep farming profitable in this changing food system, while maintaining the positive aspects of production.

June laiki agora purchaseAll that being said, Dave and I try to do our part to support the local farmers, who are usually somewhere between 55-70 years old. We buy all of our fruits and vegetables from the λαϊκή αγορά (literally translated it means ‘common market’ and is the equivalent of a farmers’ market). This is certainly a mutually beneficial relationship; the farmers get a good price, quality of the food far surpasses what we find in any of the supermarkets, and it is still cheap for us.

July laiki agora purchaseThese few photos are examples of what we normally bring home…the first from March of this year, the next from June and this last one we took this morning. We usually spend between €4-7 and get enough fruits and vegetables to last the week. And, while I am a little sorry to say this since I love all my NY farmer friends, with the exception of tomatoes, these are the best tasting fruits and vegetables I have ever had. I just don’t think NY can compete with the perfect climate and fertile, volcanic soil of this island.