CULTURE

Snacks with a healthy kick

Increasing quantities of organic food are going into supermarket carts, as produce becomes more widely available and prices decrease. It might be getting easier to put organic food on the table these days, but what happens when eating out? Some restaurants may include organic food on the menu, but there are as yet no purely «organic» restaurants, though there are now two organic cafes, one in the center of Athens, the other in the Old Town of Corfu. Pericles Livas, who holds the franchise on the Biologikos Kyklos organic food store next door, opened the Bio Bar at 84 Academias Street three months ago, serving what at first looks like the fare typical of many of the new-look sandwich bars around town, but with a major difference – the products are organically produced. «I wanted to make organic products more widely known and more visible. A lot of people take the view that organic means expensive but this isn’t necessarily true anymore,» said Livas. It is certainly not true of the Bio Bar’s prices. Beverages range from 1 euro for a Greek coffee to 1.50 for a cappuccino (2 euros for a double); most fresh fruit juices are just 1.80 euros. Sandwiches are 1.80 euros for most small-sized and 2.20 to 4.40 for larger, depending on the filling and type of bread, with a choice of rye, baguette, wholemeal or kaiser roll. As well as organic espresso, cappuccino and hot chocolate, there are herbal teas, such as sage, mountain and nettle, Echinacea, southern African Rooibos tea, Guarana (a coffee substitute) and a range of iced drinks, including espresso with cream made from rice, carob or soya. Light meals include a range of sandwiches, with or without meat products, as well as savory and sweet pies, which can be accompanied by a glass of red or white organic wine. The Bio Bar is fresh and inviting, the design modern and minimalist. Food can be bought at the counter to take away or ordered at tables. Livas told Kathimerini English Edition the Bio Bar will be providing a delivery service in the city center in the near future. Ionian Islands In a quiet square in the Old Town of Corfu is the Biocafe, opened by Dimitris Fanariotis last July. On a summer evening, customers sit at tables beside the old Church of Aghios Spyridonas, the island’s patron saint, drinking organic beer and fresh juices. Popular with local families, whose children play in the square, the cafe also attracts members of the island’s large English community as well as tourists. Fanariotis, who is active in the island’s organic farming movement, has recently expanded the cafe menu to include crepes, organic ice cream and a new espresso coffee, grown according to the principles of biodynamics, a method of organic agriculture that emphasizes building soil fertility (introduced by philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner in response to concerns by European farmers in the 1920s about signs of decline in agriculture). Certification Both Livas and Fanariotis have applied for certification from DIO, one of the three accredited organic certification organizations in Greece. However, although there is a European Union regulation (2092-91) covering the production, manufacture and import of organic food, it does not cover the preparation and serving of food in retail outlets. According to a representative of AGROCERT, the agency which on behalf of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food supervises the operation of organizations like DIO that certify organic products in Greece, one of the problems is that the law in Greece states that organic food has to be sold packaged, not in bulk. So a problem arises with food, such as sandwich fillings or pies that are made on the premises using organic products. There is only a provision for certifying the primary products. Each member state has the right to set its own rules regarding individual aspects of the sale of organic food, but this has not yet been done in Greece to cover this specific area, as it has, for example, in Italy, Sweden and Britain, according to Fanariotis. «DIO can certify the packaged products used in these outlets, but as yet we are not authorized to do the same for the preparation and serving of food in the actual cafes themselves,» said DIO spokesman Costas Pazarakiotis. When this issue is eventually settled in Greece, it will no doubt lead to more organic eateries opening around the country.