People in Georgia take New Year celebration very seriously. At least one week before the 31st of December, the families start preparing traditional Georgian food for the upcoming supras, which for someone from abroad, would seem like a never ending race of celebrations. Cuisine is an important part of Georgian identity, and being able to cook well is regarded as one of the most important skills to have. However, the nutritional content of food and the diversification of micro and macro nutrients, so important for living a healthy life, is a challenging factor, when faced with traditional perceptions and “grandmothers’” delicious recipes of Khachapuri, Satsivi and other dishes. Obviously, having a healthy eating habit is not something easily achievable. On the one hand, diversified diet is not the “cheapest” solution for a family budget, which is an unquestionable problem in the case of Georgia where in 2013, more than 22% of households declared that they lacked finances simply for food. On the other hand, the awareness on the importance of nutritional content of food is a determinant factor for healthy eating.
In order to contribute to raising the awareness on healthy eating, the Biological Farmers’ Association Elkana of Georgia, within the framework of Oxfam’s EC funded project “Improving Regional Food Security through National Strategies and Small-holders’ Production in the South Caucasus” organized a food fair in Tbilisi on December 27-28th, just before the New Year celebrations. Apart from promoting healthy eating, the event aimed to assist local producers to trade their goods directly to consumers, through the slogan of the event – Georgian Farmers Products: Fresh – Healthy – Local!
The food fair took place in one of the main shopping areas of Tbilisi, at “Bukia Garden”. 23 farmers (11 women among them) from 6 regions of Georgia participated and sold their products with fair prices directly to consumers. Visitors to the food fair were provided with small brochures regarding healthy food and the venue was decorated with large banners on the importance of different nutrients for a healthy life.
20 year old Nika, engaged in the family business of honey-production in Chokhatauri district, was quite satisfied by the food fair since he was able to sell around 10 litres of honey on the first day. While discussing the healthiness of the food Georgians consume, he mentioned that rural population eats healthier food produced by the household, whereas in urban areas, people consume more fast-food and frozen products. Nika also noted that due to financial hardship, people in the countryside cannot guarantee a diversified diet for their families.
A farmer from Kaspi region was more critical regarding the eating habits of Georgians and stated that Georgians pay so much attention to their cuisine that all they worry about is how the food tastes and not how healthy it actually is.
Nato, a 30 year old housewife bought honey and other products for the New Year supra at the food fair. She said:
The Food Fair ended on the 28th of December. Elkana has a vast experience in organizing food fairs in Tbilisi and the next one is planned for the Easter holidays. So, if you are in Tbilisi, mark the date in your calendar and come taste some fresh, healthy and local food!