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The Greek Financial Crisis Could Mess With Your Beloved Feta and Olive Oil

Thinking of having a Greek salad for lunch tomorrow? Well, you should. Because it might be your last chance to get decent feta for a while and, well, Greece needs your money.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
July 9, 2015, 8:45pm
Foto von Marzia Bertelli via Flickr

By now, you'd have to have your head in a hole to not have been privy to the media chatter about what the hell Greece is going to do about its looming debt crisis. There have been countless insights into how to enact a bailout, or even a crowdfunding campaign, to remedy the situation, but nothing has stuck or drawn a clear path to salvation for the European nation.

And it's not like we can just give up on Greece—it needs our help just as we need its spanakopita.


READ: Halloumi Might Help Heal a Divided Cyprus

Speaking of which, you may want to stock up on that. Quick. Because—and not to make light of a disaster and the devastation it could cause to all other aspects of Greek society—but if Greece goes down, so does our supply of olive oil, feta, and other goods from the Mediterranean nation. Hoard the halloumi, friends.

Typically plentiful in stores overseas, the Greek olive oil supply is starting to dry up as the debt situation worsens and farmers insist on being paid in cold, hard cash … which distributors aren't all willing to do. Some half a million olive farmers live in Greece—often on small, family-run farms—and with domestic bank systems increasingly dysfunctional, many have become hesitant to accept transfers rather than bills.

And according to The Guardian, many olive oil distributors are so short on bank notes that they can't meet the demands of farmers, resulting in a standstill that could limit exports in the near future. While certain companies struggle to accumulate cash, others are offering checks that can be cashed once banks resume business, but who knows when that might be.

And olive oil farmers aren't the only ones who are in a pickle when it comes to getting paid; many Greek citizens are currently unable to access their accounts at all, or are having their cash withdrawals limited to just €60 a day. That could make stocking up on food even harder. Most banks are closed until next week at the earliest as officials try to manage the fiscal crisis—though are still without resolution after Greeks voted to reject the most recently offer for a bailout from the European Union.

And American grocery stores are measurably feeling the burn when it comes to stocking their shelves with the nation's products.

"Last week we were unable to get any shipments," Costas Mastoras of Queens-based Greek grocery store Titan Foods told The New York Post. He also warned that "cheeses are going faster than we thought." He predicts that his inventory situation will worsen over the next four to five weeks as Greece, the third-largest olive oil producer in the world, either continues to descend into chaos or struggles to right itself if an agreement is reached with the EU.

Another reason to fill your cabinets with all of the Greek food you can carry: the nation needs money, in case that wasn't clear. So pop a six-pack of Vergina and fill your fridge with kalamata olives—and think of it as a mutually beneficial transaction.