Traditional Food of Messinia
The term ‘traditional food’ is synonymous to the term ‘local product’, which refers to the local geographical and historical characteristics of a product. Local foods are basically products which are produced from natural ingredients and do not include any artificial additives. They are a result of traditional recipes, promote a healthy diet and contribute to the preservation of the local culture. Furthermore, traditional foods are identified with local and hand-made foods with specific nutritional ingredients and a specific area of production and technical know-how. In 1992, the European Union, based on consumer expectations and the concerns of producers in relation to the danger of the gradual extinction of authentic traditional products of its member states, implemented a policy of quality (regulation 2081/92, which was subsequently replaced by regulation 510/2006), which defines the following three quality schemes of protected designation of origin.

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
Protected Designation of Origin means the name of a region, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, a country, used to describe an agricultural product or a foodstuff originating in that region, specific place or country, and the quality or characteristics of which are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors, and the production, processing and preparation (and, where appropriate, the packaging) of which take place in the defined geographical area.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
Protected Geographical Indication means an indication or the name of a region, of a specific place or, in exceptional cases, of a country serving to designate and/or to identify an agricultural product or a foodstuff as originating in a region, specific place or country and which possesses a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to that geographical origin, and the production, and/or processing and/or preparation take place in the defined geographical area. Greece has registered 61 PDO products.

Traditional Speciality guaranteed (TSG)
Traditional Speciality Guaranteed means a traditional agricultural product or foodstuff, which has intrinsic properties distinguishing it clearly from other similar products of the same category proven usage on the Community market for a time period showing transmission between generations. The product’s specificity can include physical, chemical, microbiological or organoleptic characteristics, or even the method or conditions of its production. Its traditional character is attributed to the use of raw materials, its composition, method of production and/or processing. Besides the above, for a traditional speciality guaranteed product to be registered, its name should be specific or should express the specific character of the product.

Since 01.06.2006, the Agricultural Products Certification and Supervision Organization, under the distinctive title AGROCERT, is responsible for the approval of company applications for registration to quality control systems, for the conduct of controls in cooperation with the Regional Departments of Agricultural Development, for checks on conformity to quality standards, and for the certification of agricultural products. AGROCERT is also responsible for the register of approved companies and the register of entitled users of geographical indications and designations of origin seals.

Many Greek traditional products have been recognized according to EU regulations, promoting in this way the relationship between diet and health and the benefits of these products. 

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) is a cohort study with more than 521,000 study participants coming from 10 European countries. Research data from this project demonstrated that adherence to a traditional diet is associated with reduced overall mortality as well as incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular diseases and postmenopausal breast cancer. Considering Messinia in particular, its climate and soil favor the cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil. Messinian olive oil is classified as extra virgin olive oil with specific sensory attributes and nutritional value. Both table olives and olive oil from the region of Messinia have been registered as protected designation of origin products (Kalamata PDO Olive Oil 379567 / 20-08-1993, Government Gazette issue 821/7-10-93 and Table Olives PDO Kalamata 440304 / 11-11-1993 Government Gazette issue 871/26-11-93).

Messinia is also renowned for its production of local wines. The relatively low altitude, the fertile soil, the mild climate, the long hours of sunshine and the warm and dry conditions that prevail during the period of grape ripening have determined the varieties of the vineyards in Messinia. The largest proportion of vineyards cultivates the Greek wine varieties of Roditis, Fileri, Assyrtiko, Fokiano and Mandilaria as well as Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Rouge, Merlot, Carignan. The wines produced in Messinia, Pylos and Trifyllia bear a protected geographical indication seal. Another traditional product of Messinia registered as a protected designation of origin product is Sfela cheese (PDO Sfela cheese 313056/17-01-1994 - Government Gazette issue 25/18-01-94). Sfela is a medium hard brine cheese produced from sheep or goat’s milk or a mixture of both. Messinia, in general, has an extensive agricultural production that includes vegetables, citrus fruit, figs, currants and other foods and products, which its economy depends on.

The production of traditional Messinian foods is based on locally produced products. The cultivation of these products contributes to the development of a sustainable environment, local employment opportunities as well as to the strengthening of local economies. The secret of producing traditional Messinian food has been safeguarded for years by local female communities while women’s cooperatives have to a large extent been responsible for their production. The legislation and standardization of the production of local Messinian products are necessary in order to protect the products, the producers and the consumers. Furthermore, because some of these products face extinction in the near future due to the change in the lifestyle of Greeks and respectively of the Messinians, there is a great need to study and promote local Messinian products in order to preserve the important folklore traditions and culture of the area and by extension to enrich and to actively promote a healthy nutritional model to Greece and the world.
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