The Initiative Group for the Association and Promotion of the Economy of Hospitality and Greek Food with the Economy of Production, in the context of a more comprehensive proposal for sustainable food ecosystems and well-being, was officially presented on Saturday 15 May, during the Delphi Economic Forum.

The members of the Initiative Group are the President of Hellenic Tourism Organization EOT, Angela Gerekou, the emeritus researcher, former Director of the Folklore Center of the Academy of Athens, member of the National Committee for the celebration of 2021, member of the Committee for the Intangible Cultural and Cultural Heritage Chairman of the Craft Committee of Ministry of Development, Aikaterini Polymerou-Kamilaki, the President of the Panhellenic Exporters Association, Christina Sakellaridis, the Chairman of the HELLA-DIKA MAS Initiative as well as a Board Member, Marketing and Export Director of Legendary Food SA, Aris Kefalogiannis, the CEO of the Agricultural Cooperative SteviaHellas, Christos Stamatis, and the CEO of the public relations company OniCommunications, Annie Karagioule.

Gerekou: Hospitality and Greek diet must go together

Opening the presentation, the President of EOT underlined that the vision of the Initiative Group is to highlight the authentic Greek Mediterranean diet and its products as the largest untapped national capital of the country and as a way of life, which responds to humanity’s anxious search for prosperity and “wellness” and the planet’s need for environmental sustainability.

At the same time, Ms Gerekou pointed out that the basic principle of the Greek-Mediterranean diet is the triptych “Balance – Moderation – Variety” and that Greece has a long tradition in both the production and processing of quality products.

“Hospitality and the Greek diet must go together” noted Ms. Gerekou and said: “EOT wants to use the link between authentic Greek local products and the Greeks and foreign visitors who prefer them for the promotion of Greece. We are creating a wide range of workshops, with EOT as the national gateway of our country abroad “.

She also recalled the phrase of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis that “if you dissolve Greece you are left with an olive tree, a vineyard and a ship”, emphasizing that this heritage of Greece just needs to be rediscovered and promoted in a more modern and direct way, for a sustainable present and future.

She concluded: “The need for change and action is the key to our total transformation. We now know very well that the future does not come by itself, we “challenge” the future. In this Initiative Group we change and envision the future for future generations and that directs our actions. Any change that corrects the past and every transformation creates the future”.

The contribution of authentic Greek products to the economy

During the presentation, an extensive reference was made to the Economy of Hospitality, which is inextricably linked to gastronomic culture and gastronomic diplomacy. The central role is played by the authentic local products, which the visitors must try so that, having flavored a unique experience in Greece, they can look for such products even after returning to their country. At the same time, the necessity for authentic Greek products to have a much more noticeable presence in the field of hospitality was stressed, as tourism, culture, hospitality and exportable agri-food products are interconnected links in the chain that supports the country’s economy.

In particular, Mr. A. Kefalogiannis focused on the Greek art of enjoying life, on the Greek diet that functions as preventive medicine and is a prerequisite for well-being, as well as on the Greek “village” (horiatiki) salad as the most representative dish of the Greek Mediterranean diet. Ms. Polymerou-Kamilaki mentioned the popular-cultural tradition of each place that includes the Greek family, friendship, company, hospitality, as well as the rescue and improvement of the cultivation of indigenous varieties. On his part, Mr. A. Pistiolas pointed out the value of the creative evolution of Greek traditional cuisine by modern Greek cooks (chefs) with respect to tradition from antiquity to today and in combination with the new reality for health and well-being, stating that there are many and varied recipes using plants and vegetables (vegetarian & vegan) .Then, Mr. Chr. Stamatis noted the substantial contribution to environmental sustainability and the reduction of food waste, through the consumption of Greek, seasonal products, while Ms. Chr. Sakellaridis commented on the importance of Greek exportable products as ambassadors of the country and their participation in increasing exports during the pandemic.

The Initiative Group has created the Manifesto of the Greek-Mediterranean Diet, a decalogue that describes and analyzes its values ​​with the aim of being a “guide” for organizations involved in the Greek hospitality economy. Also, the President of EOT announced that soon the Initiative Group will implement important actions, including the organization of a large conference at the end of the summer, under the auspices of the Greece 2021 Commission and the HELLENIC-OUR Initiative.

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