Saint Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church

Watertown, NY











Greece’s Red Gold

The picture on the upper left hand corner on the front page of this month's newsletter is the purple flower called saffron which grows only in northwestern Greece, and it is harvested in the fall. It takes approximately 150,000 flowers to make a kilo of the saffron spice, which sells for about 1,500 euros, and one gram sells for 4 euros in Greek shops. This spice is so expensive that it is referred to as “red gold”, and it has drastically revived the economy to a region in Greece known for coal mines and unemployment.  The Greeks have been cultivating saffron for three centuries in the countryside surrounding Krokos, which takes its name from Crocus, the saffron flower. Alexander the Great is said to have used it to heal battle wounds. Its production was limited until recently, and it now produces four tons a year and 70 percent of it is sold abroad. The fields are abuzz, and the president of the Greece’s Cooperative of Saffron, Nikos Patsiouras, said, “We have God on our side, who gave us such a unique product.” “We hold onto it like the apple of our eye.”