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Grecotel’s AgrecoFarms ‘A Once in a Lifetime Experience’

The members of the Advisory Board of the Hellenic Center of Excellence for Health & Wellness together with executives of the Grecotel Group.

Grecotel’s organic AgrecoFarms, which has been paving the way for best practices in tourism and agriculture while offering insight into the traditional Greek Diet, was a rewarding experience for the advisory board members of the Hellenic Center of Excellence for Health and Wellness which was recently launched at the Amirandes Grecotel Boutique Resort on Crete.

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, during his visit to the farm on the sidelines of the event.

Frank Hu.

Frank Hu.

Hu together with leading nutrition and medical experts from Harvard, the Culinary Institute of America and the University of Athens, among others, had the chance to visit AgrecoFarms and experience first-hand the makings of the traditional Cretan diet and lifestyle during their week-long stay on Crete.

The interactive tour included an introduction to traditional Greek farming practices, Cretan culinary and nutritional practices as well as breadmaking, tsikoudia and honey production, among others. They also had the opportunity to sample the finest Cretan products from farm to table to the accompaniment of traditional Cretan music.

The Hellenic Center of Excellence for Health and Wellness on Crete is an initiative of Stefanos Kales, professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is seen here with Cretan organ players.

Cretan-born Grecotel founder Nikos Daskalantonakis set up AgrecoFarms in efforts to safeguard local products and introduce specialty food products from Crete to the world.

A leader in luxury tourism, Grecotel has joined a group of internationally celebrated experts for the creation of the Center of Excellence for Health and Wellness, which will be based on Crete.

“It is a very important event for Greece, and of course, for Crete, in particular, because Crete is the cradle of the traditional Greek Diet,” said Greece’s Antonia Trichopoulou, also known as the “mother of the Mediterranean Diet” because she was the first with her late husband to develop the first standardized score for adherence to the traditional Mediterranean Diet, the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS).

Antonia Trichopoulou.

Antonia Trichopoulou.

“It is the model and this is due not only to historical reasons, but also to the fact that Crete has wonderful products. I am very happy to be in this environment and I have met so many people who believe in tradition, try to preserve what is still left, because so many things have been lost,” said Trichopoulou, who is currently Professor Emeritus of the School of Medicine of the University of Athens, President of the Hellenic Health Foundation, and Director of Greece’s Collaborating Center of Nutrition for the World Health Organization.

‘AgrecoFarms is amazing’

“It is a unique life experience. Incredible. The food is excellent, we have visited many places, historical monuments, but also AgrecoFarms and everything is amazing. The Center of Excellence is an opportunity to promote the Cretan diet, culture and environment. We have done many studies on the effect that the Cretan and Mediterranean diet had on health but there is little information about the sustainability and the environment of Crete. Therefore, visiting the farm and seeing how Cretan products are produced is very important,” said Hu.

The members of the Advisory Board of the Hellenic Center of Excellence for Health & Wellness.

Echoing Hu, Walter Willett, professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said it was an “amazing experience”.

“The Cretan diet has guided my research for 60 years, so my visit is a real source of inspiration. The Mediterranean diet is now very popular in the US, as people now know how important it is to health, while at the same time it is delicious and sustainable. Research over the past five years has ranked the Mediterranean diet at the top. What I experienced at AgrecoFarms is the positive experience with a range of different products, from the excellent olive oil to the nuts and all the products I tasted and this combination is also the strength of the Mediterranean diet,” Willet said.

It should be reminded that the Mediterranean Diet was inscribed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2011.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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