They say the best way to experience the world is to go out and see it for yourself, so that’s exactly what I did on May 13, 2022. I hopped on a plane with my program manager and 23 of my peers, and we made the long journey to the beautiful and distant land of Greece. The title of this University of Minnesota study abroad program is “Greek Agriculture and Gastronomy,” so I knew this experience would be right in my field of food and agriculture!
We started our journey in the northern city of Thessaloniki, home of the American Farm School, also known as Perrotis College. This campus was so unique because there is a school for all ages of children, from kindergarten to college, and everyone is connected to agriculture every step of the way. Several crops grow on campus, including wine grapes, olives, and barley, in addition to smaller vegetables such as cucumbers and peppers. They also have animals like dairy cows and chickens. The surrounding community can purchase olive oil, wine, eggs, and cheese that have been produced directly on campus by students in the campus store.
After spending a week on campus and listening to several lectures on many topics such as precision agriculture, the Mediterranean diet, olive oil and medicinal herbs, it was time to leave Thessaloniki.
I won’t go into detail about the many other places we visited, but a few highlights include the beaches of Halkidiki, the ancient monasteries of Meteora, the trails of Mount Olympus, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and of course , the Acropolis. in Athens. I highly recommend looking at photos of all of these places, but be warned, it may make you want to travel and see them for yourself.
While visiting these places, we ate so much food, and some of my favorite things included feta cheese pies, tzatziki, and dolma (rice-stuffed grape leaves). It is very common for Greeks to have a sit-down meal in a restaurant that lasts about four hours, just chatting with their company and enjoying the food and drink.
In addition to the focus on mealtime enjoyment, there is a lot of thought put into meal preparation. In a restaurant, my friend was ordering a dish with cabbage, but the owner taking our order explained that it was not possible because “cabbage is not good at this time of year”. I was stunned. At home, a restaurant would have just shipped cabbage from elsewhere, but here they take great pride in the dishes and only want to serve them if they are at their best.
The culture of this country is so linked to the world of food and agriculture! I got a little jealous, because when I’m home I often get frustrated with the level of disconnect we see between consumers and producers. Greeks understand where their food comes from, and their meals and family mean everything to them. Maybe there’s a thing or two we can learn from them. If you want to know more about Greece, just ask me! My email is [email protected] Yamas! (Cheers!)
Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wisconsin. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbours’ Holstein dairy farm. This spurred her to get involved in 4-H and FFA, and after graduating from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in communications and marketing. agricultural. During the school year, she worked as a web designer for the University of Minnesota’s Department of Animal Science, and last summer she was a Farmer Relations Intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper is the 2022 Hoard’s Milkman editorial intern.