Informative and Entertaining, Greek Agricultural Producer Event a Hit in NY

NEW YORK – Simple economics dictates that one of the im
portant paths out of the
Greece crisis is exports, especially, in the beginning, a
gricultural products. The rising
global respect for the Mediterranean diet is increasin
g the world’s appreciation for
Greek produce, but marketing initiatives, like the recent
event organized in Manhattan
by Agreeno, the Association of Rice Producers from Greece,
are vital.
The highlight was a presentation by world famous chef, a
uthor and food journalist Diane
Kochilas, who introduced fresh summer recipes which introdu
ced the new indigenous
Bistro Rissoto rice from Northern Greece.
Apostolos Digbasanis, Trade Commissioner at Consulate Gen
eral of Greece in New
York, invited Amb. George Iliopoulos, Consul General of
Greece, to present opening
remarks at the event supported by the Greek Trade Office
and the Press and
Communication Office of Greece in New York.
Iliopoulos noted that “the traditional Greek diet is t
he model for what is called the
Mediterranean diet, considered to be the healthiest,
most nutritional diet in the world.”
He said the diet could be described as mostly vegetarian,
and described the reasons for
that fact. As a mountainous country, there is limited gra
zing ground for cattle in Greece,
so meat production is lower there than in Northern Eur
ope, and as a relatively poor
country, consumption was always limited. “Meat was a luxury,
reserved for special
family celebrations,” he said.
“The Greek Orthodox calendar also includes more than 18
0 fast days,” so that other
protein sources like lentils and beans were also importan
t dishes, products, which along
with chickpeas, are also marketed by Agreeno.
He said it is not very well known that that Greece’s appr
eciation for rice was goes as far
back as Herodotus, who noted its high nutritional value.
Iliopoulos also pointed out “that
rice cultivation and consumption was introduced in Europ
e by the returning soldiers of
Alexander the Great.
It is also understood by nutritionists, however, that cult
ures that consume either rice or
beans experience malnutrition, something that is avoide
d in the Greek diet that includes
Greece produces nearly 120,000 tons of rice per year, o
f which almost half is exported
to the rest of Europe and Iliopoulos pointed out that
while Greece has limited
agricultural land, “with a perfectly balance climate an
d the right soil, we produce

agricultural products of the highest standards and we can
see significant exports in the
The market in the United States is very sophisticated, how
ever, and Iliopoulos
emphasized that professional endeavors are required. He
said “the Greek rice
producers meet its demands and requirements and therefor
e we can be optimistic of
food partnership that will benefit both the American
consumers and the Greek
Marc Schmettau, Agreeno’s International Development Di
rector, told TNH about the
importance of such events. He noted that programs like R
ice Up co-financed by Greece
and the EU gives Agreeno the ability to connect with loca
l people and facilitate entering
the U.S. market.
Agreeno is celebrating its 60th anniversary as a cooperati
ve of farmers – some of them
do have their own brands – that packages and distributes
the product worldwide.
Schmettau said that the function has not changed since th
e function, but the focus has
changed. “The rice and legumes growers are now more focu
sed on the export market.”
Agreeno is expanding its foreign market expertise regar
ding countries’ import
procedures and quality standards and they recently we satisf
ied the requirements of
international retailers he said.
According to its website, www.agrino.com the quality con
trols are performed in the two
fully equipped laboratories the company has in its factori
es at Agrinion and
The guests enjoyed the receptions that preceeded and fol
lowed the presentation – the
Bistro Risotto was among the offerings and Greek wines im
ported by Stellar
Importing was also provided.
Among the guests was Sara Baer-Sinott, the President of
Oldways, a food and nutrition
non-profit based in Boston that was founded in 1990 a
nd is best known for developing
the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid to easily communicate it
s content and importance. “We
worked with two of the best scientists,” in the nutriti
on field, “who are Greek, Antonia
Trichopoulou and Demetrios Trichopoulos – who sadly died
this past December.
Antonia is known as the Mother of the Mediterranean D
iet and we’ve had the pleasure
of working with her for the past 20 years.”
“When we started 25 years ago we got together a group
of scientists, Antonia and
Demetrios being two of them. The idea was to describe t
he Mediterranean diet and
create a sensible and delicious eating guide.”
Baer-Sinott is a big fan of Kochilas and was happy to com
e all the way from Boston at
Digbasanis’ invitation. She has been to Greece many ti
mes, where she has held


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