The Greeks have found an incredible solution. Why can’t we do this here in America? Serious question.
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n their fifth year of recession, with 21% of the workforce jobless, salaries slashed, one in 11 people in greater Athens using soup kitchens and half the country’s most prescribed medicines now in short supply, that is what more and more Greeks are doing. Faced with a half-broken state, and systems and structures only making things worse, people are doing things differently.
In a clearing on a hillside above the second city, Elisabet Tsitsopoulou found herself buying five 25kg sacks of potatoes, for herself and her neighbours, from the back of a lorry. She paid €0.25 a kilo, against the 60-70 cents she would pay in the shops. The farmer she bought from, Apostolos Kasapis, was equally happy: he got his money straight away, rather than having to wait up to a year – or forever – for a middleman’s cheque.
“It benefits everyone,” said Christos Kamenides, professor of agricultural marketing at Thessaloniki University, of the producer-to-consumer system he has helped perfect. The potato movement was launched last month and is spreading across Greece, incorporating other staples such as onions, rice, flour, olives and – at the last count – more than 4,000 Easter lambs. Town halls announce a sale; locals say how much they’ll buy; farmers show up with it in 25-tonne trucks. Everyone’s happy.