First the Fires, Now Here Come the Floods

These days, Greek farmers live dramatic lives.  What’s more, the rumour mill is in full swing as to why the August fires were ignited. According to some locals, 50,000 Europeans want to buy property to retire or to vacation in Greece.  Further allure has grown as the construction of a new road called the Ionian Route will begin soon in northwestern Greece and end in South Peloponnese—making what was once inaccessible accessible.  While the fires were still going on there were real estate buyers in those areas offering ridiculous prices to buy burned-down properties.  Meanwhile there is resistance from local authorities and ecologist to expropriate traditional and pine tree forests.

Due to the fires, many families have lost their income.  Some have partially or wholly lost their olive groves, their animals or their homes.  Olive trees no longer bear muted green and silver coloured leaves but have turned black or shades of brown.  Unless you see it with your own eyes you cannot imagine the grief nature is going through.

There are many tragic stories.  One that is etched in my mind is that of a mother who abandoned her house to save her children and herself.  The family did not survive, while the house remained unscathed.  Rumour has it that the area knows who the arsonist is, but that local authorities are keeping it under wraps.

Meanwhile, businessmen are already trying to sell off Spanish olive varieties to the farmers with the hopes of long-term investments.  This way they can replace Greek olive varieties and experiment on other varieties to see which will grow best.  This may put Greece in a tight spot economically, especially if Spain gets more than its fair share of the global olive oil market.

So while the affected farmers are dealing with their losses caused by the fires, the cataclysmic rains came in the third week of November.  The waters destroyed at least five bridges.

It is said that all bad things come in three…

On November 17th, the southwest area of Peloponnese was hit by a hailstorm with hail the size of walnuts.  In certain areas, the olive harvest is a total lost.  It’s incredible how a storm that lasts 15 to 30 minutes can destroy a whole year’s work. Record high temperatures continue to be a serious problem.  In Greece, last summer was scorching and contributed to water shortages.  This makes farming more difficult and ultimately hurts the farmers, who don’t receive satisfactory returns on their invested time, which discourages them from further pursuing the farming industry all together.  What’s more, without water, poisons or generic chemical used in conventional farming are not being absorbed by the soil.  A return to organic farming would solve this dilemma; however, ignorance is bliss among the new generation of farmers.

The fact is people live in abundance.  Today we are richer in comparison with previous generations, and yet we do not invest in things of substance.  I guess technology has changed our lives but has yet to change our behavior.  There is very little respect for the environment.  We drive fast and we do not enjoy nature’s beauty.  We are focusing on exterior and material things and have forgotten what is really important.

Our olive harvest has just ended.  We are among the blessed and fortunate who are able to harvest our olives.  Everything is going smoothly.  This year the yield was less but the quality of our oil is excellent. The acidity level of this year's harvest has come in at 0.17%! [extra virgin olive oil is usually is considered excellent when less than 0.50%]  We continue our dedication to quality and freshness for our customers.

Helen and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year.

Basil Koutalianos

Basil Olive Oil Products Ltd.


Olive Oil Cookbook

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