Saturday, February 25, 2012

Under Zeus' gaze, austerity-hit Greeks queue for potatoes

February 25, 2012

Struggling to cope with austerity, hundreds of Greeks in the town of Katerini at the foot of Mount Olympus have turned to a cheap way to do groceries: ordering potatoes on the Internet and picking them up in a parking lot.

As dawn broke on a cloudless Saturday, buyers patiently gathered to buy directly from growers at less than half the supermarket shelf price - the unemployed who struggle to make ends meet, the retirees whose pensions have been cut by the cost-saving measures and even well-heeled lawyers and women in fur.

The idea to cut out profiteering middlemen, started by a local activist group in Katerini, northern Greece, has led several other towns to seek advice on emulating the action.

"Every penny counts," said Kyriaki Kotropoulou, a 41-year old jobless mother of three, as she stood in line to pick up five bags of potatoes, each containing 10 kg (22 pounds) of the produce at 25 euro cents ($0.34) apiece.

Kotropoulou was a temporary worker at the local municipality but her contract was recently terminated as part of spending cuts demanded by Greece's euro zone partners who approved a 130 billion euro bailout this week.

"We no longer buy any new clothes, we no longer go out for coffee or dinner. Day in, day out, my only concern is how to feed my children and my family," she said.


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