A Socio-metabolic Transition of Diets on a Greek Island: Evidence of “Quiet Sustainability”

In the search for sustainable food systems, the Mediterranean diet occupies a prominent place, from the point of view of health, by standards of ecological sustainability and as promoting a culture of moderation and conviviality. Focusing on the Greek island of Samothraki, this chapter tells the story of a community which finds itself in the middle of a dual transition, socio-metabolically, from a traditional agrarian lifestyle to a modern industrial society, and nutritionally, towards a westernization of diets. We aim at understanding current dynamics and identify potential leverage points for sustainability, from a socio-metabolic perspective. Despite an increasing dependence on imports, our findings highlight the significant role of agricultural self-provisioning and informal food networks, as an example of “quiet sustainability”. We propose to reinforce these sustainable elements of local tradition by associating them with values that find resonance within the community, such as health, localness and quality. There is the potential to support a better utilisation of local produce and make adherence to the Mediterranean diet and culture more attractive and economically viable.

Associated space

Samothraki Island