“Yiaourtoma,” or Protesting With Yogurt

13 Oct

I stood before the olive bar at the supermarket the other day, grabbed a small plastic container, and filled it with Kalamata olives.  When I placed it on the scale and picked up the printed receipt, I was horrified to see that it was going to cost me almost $10.

Ten dollars for a handful of olives!  I thought of what my Yiayia used to say – that even the poorest Greeks could at least count on being able to afford a steady diet of bread and olives.  Not any more.  The gourmet food forces have conspired to drive up the cost of these nutritious gems, transforming them from humble staples that could alleviate hunger to luxury items that could appease the need for food-as-entertainment and the demonstration of sophisticated taste.   Of course, the economic crisis in Greece hasn’t helped any.

And since this is, after all, a blog about Greek food everywhere, I felt I had to share with you two items I ran across this week (after I had set my container of olives back down on the counter, unpurchased, and in quiet protest).

The first is a story about  Georgios Nikolaou, an olive farmer from the town of Stylida northwest of Athens, who can no longer afford the drive to visit his children in the city, a mere 200 kilometers away.  Why?  As he says, “There are five toll booths along the way.”  The price Nikolaou can get for a kilo of his olives has plummeted, even as the cost of a kilo of those same olives charged to consumers has soared. (See Jorg Diehl and Ferry Batzoglou’s article on Spiegel Online “Greek Olive Grower Squeezed Dry By Crisis.”)

Georgios Nikolaou, Greek Olive Grower (Spiegel Online)

The other is a wonderful story of grass-roots resistance and political protest.  In Greece, protestors have taken to throwing yogurt at politicians. It’s perfect – and not without precedent. To find out why, click on the link below and read on!  Is there something useful here for the “99 percent” Wall Street protestors?  Tossing pumpkin puree, perhaps?

Protestors throw yogurt at Greek politician. (Leo Vournelis, SAFN Blog)

“Yiaourtoma,” the Greek protest tradition of throwing yogurt at politicians.  To find out the who, what and why of this photograph, follow the link to Leo Vournelis’ wonderful post on the Society for the Anthropology of Food & Nutrition’s blog.

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