Conclusions and Implications
It is indisputable, from the research findings, that the economic crisis in some way or another has affected the vast majority of the households studied (more than 80 %) as regards food security issues. Almost all households engage in precautionary measures for food security. These include the production or the processing of agricultural products, storing, freezing, and salting, curing, or pickling food. Regarding agricultural production, it mainly focuses on vegetable produce, while for food processing, homemade cooking sauces and jam preserves are the priority. Food storage has to do mainly with flour, sauces, and olive oil.
Twelve motives for food security actions undertaken by households were rated and factor analyzed in order to produce a smaller more manageable dataset, which would subsequently be used for segmentation analysis. The underlying motives for food security actions are a concern for food safety and self-sufficiency, a need to manage extreme out-ofcontrol situations, and a need to save money. Factor analysis produced three factors, namely “Food security for economic-derived negative situations”, “Out-of-season food access, food safety”, and “Protection from price increase and economic gain”.
Furthermore, segmentation of households based on food security actions produced three segments, namely “Survivors”, “Economic-focused households”, and “Food safety-orientated households”, each with different characteristics and behaviors toward food access. This segmentation of households revealed very interesting outcomes. The results indicate that households are trying to find ways to be self-sufficient and independent from third parties by engaging in the production, storage, freezing, salting, curing, or pickling of food. They are also trying to get control of the quality and ingredients of the food they eat, since food safety problems constantly arise worldwide. Additionally, trust issues associated with food quality control and food safety also arose. Results imply that households seem to consider that the control mechanisms of the state which are related to the safety and hygiene of food are inefficient. Households seem to believe that the state does not apply the necessary investigations and checks; nor does it give the required penalties to whom, and when, and where necessary— measures that deliver confidence about food consumption.
Furthermore, there are six items (out of seven) that constitute the factor “Food security for economic-derived negative situations” signifying the first segment, the “Survivors”, and which refer to extreme, out-ofcontrol situations, such as probability of war. Participants’ concern about food security, extreme situations, and job losses reveals that not only do households not trust that the government will end the crisis, but they also fear that the worst is yet to come.
Since it is quite difficult for the government to restore trust, it is more realistic that solutions be provided by citizens themselves. The households, as consumer entities, should unite and create consumer cooperatives that will act as strong negotiating powers in trading food products, thus monitoring quality and assuring food safety.
An example of such an initiative is the rise of the Potato Movement. Solera (2015, pp. 47-48) mentions that the Potato Movement was an idea of Professor Christos Kamenidis: “[I]t started with a self-managed public market of potatoes produced in the provinces of Serres and Drama, it became an alternative channel to bypass the speculation on vegetable prices imposed by wholesalers supplying big supermarkets and commercial centres. The campaign, launched in January 2012, was an amazing success, and inspired similar networks all over Greece.”
Additionally, legislation which enables the farmer markets to function is also very important for consumer food security. Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Marketing, C. Kamenidis, who started the movement regarding the direct sales of agricultural products directly from the farmer to the consumer, or the “potato movement”, pointed out that “[t]he direct sales of agricultural products or food products (i.e., fruits, vegetables, olive oil) directly from the farmer/producer to the consumer can increase the availability of quality food and can promote food security with lower food prices for consumers. So, farmer markets must be organized, and begin to operate in Greece, as they do in the United States, Canada, and Europe” (Kamenidis 2016).
This research, although subject to limitations, offers a preliminary analysis of the reality of food security actions that have been performed by households in Greece in order to have access to food during the consecutive years of the economic crisis. First of all, this research was selffunded, and as such, due to major economic constraints, it was difficult to access rural areas which, under different circumstances, the researchers would have gathered data from. For the same reasons, the research was limited to 2 out of 13 regions of Greece: Central Macedonia (7 prefectures) and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (5 prefectures), which were easier to access. Another limitation of the study, also deriving from the economic constraints, is the sampling methodology. At the third stratum, specifically in rural and semi-urban areas, convenience sampling was used in some cases. While the questionnaire was self-reported, there were participants who were illiterate or whose reading skills were very low. In this case, the researchers had to employ a personal interview, thus causing delays in the rural areas visited. There might also be other products that households produce, store, freeze, salt, cure, or pickle that were not included in the research. These were the ones continuously mentioned during the qualitative research procedure. Likewise, other underlying motives for households’ food security actions might exist and are not subject to this research. These too were the ones constantly indicated during qualitative research. Similarly, one must take into account that this research was concluded in May 2015, and since then, many changes have emerged in the economic life of the Greek population, such as political changes, continuing instability in the Mediterranean region, and the refugee crisis. Because of this, new research would help validate the findings of the present research or improve the questionnaires used. Even though this research has several limitations, it is without doubt very important since it records the food security situation, access, and actions undertaken by households in Greece, a country undergoing an economic and financial crisis for six consecutive years.