The Greek countryside is rich in aromatic and healing herbs, which are often more potent than their counterparts elsewhere due to the country's climate and soil conditions.
"Most of the time Greek herbs contain a greater number of bioactive ingredients and this is due to soil conditions in Greece, which are suitable for the cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants," said Petros Tsantilis, the President of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and Professor of Organic Chemical Analysis of Natural Products at the Agricultural University of Athens, in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Tuesday.
"It is a forgotten treasure for health and the economy," he commented, adding that "if existing cooperatives and individual small producers act collectively and if everyone proceeds to produce certified, good-quality standardised and packaged products, proper marketing will then help exports to grow, bringing economic benefits for both the producers and the Greek economy."
However, Tarantilis noted, Greece currently lagged behind other Mediterranean countries like France, Spain and Italy in standardisation and packaging, though the situation was improving with the entry of new growers with scientific views and training.
So far, there are roughly 5,500 recorded species of Greek flora, a number that rises to 6,200 if subspecies are added. Of these plants, about 950 species are endemic to the country, or even 1,150 if subspecies are included.