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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 29, 2012
Polska…tastes good!
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Euro 2012 and Polish Food
June 29, 2012   
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By Marek Sawicki, PhD, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
One could say I am continuing the EU theme. On the brink of summer in Poland it’s hard not to mention the Euro 2012 European soccer championship. We all realize this is the greatest sports event we have ever organized. It’s not only a huge effort with building all the infrastructure, a giant logistic project, but also a unique opportunity to promote Poland. A great many soccer fans, volunteers and journalists from all over the world have come here. The weeks spent in our country will be the basis on which they form an opinion about us, about Poland.

As a long-serving minister responsible for agriculture and rural areas, I know how important proper promotion is. Focusing on this kind of activity is already bringing very good results. Despite the economic turbulence troubling the economies of many countries, we are coping very well. Exports of Polish farm and food products are developing steadily. Last year we exported 15 billion euros’ worth. At the same time, we have maintained a positive balance of trade—3 billion euros. These are very good results showing that we are approaching the export level of almost a third of the value of total agricultural production.

Today we are harvesting the fruit of our hard work from the period preceding Poland’s European Union accession and from our first years as a member. EU and domestic funds available to farmers and entrepreneurs have been very well utilized. Thanks to this we now have what are among the most advanced facilities in meat and dairy processing. In combination with excellent raw materials provided by modern farms, this means we can offer food of the highest quality. A guarantee of quality and unique flavors are assets appreciated by consumers not only in Europe but, more and more often, on other continents as well.

With agriculture based largely on traditional farming methods and family farms, it would be a sin not to utilize such advantages in international trade. A rational approach to the environment we live in means we have excellent conditions for developing organic farming. This type of agriculture is in fact developing very rapidly in Poland. The return to natural food, food with as little artificial processing as possible, a trend that is visible in other countries as well, also acts in organic farming’s favor. Local “homemade” foods made on a small scale using only natural products are very much in demand.

We have a lot to boast about; we have good raw materials and a rich culinary tradition. Poland’s location and its multicultural character during the course of a history spanning more than a thousand years led to an intermingling of cultures, including cuisines. In Polish cuisine, we can find many elements testifying to the richness of different cultures. Our dishes are characterized by a wealth of flavors, herbs and methods of preparation. Barbecued dishes are popular today, but what else were our dishes made on a gridiron? Courtly banquets abounding in innumerable roasted dishes, excellent and diverse cold cuts and delicious soups were famous.

Today these traditions are coming back and a number of companies are using old, tried and tested recipes. This also helps make Polish food popular.

We live in times when proper promotion and advertising is very important. That’s why I take every opportunity to promote all that is best about Poland. The promotional campaign during Poland’s presidency of the EU was very successful. Kashubian strawberries, St. Martin’s Day croissants and apples from £±cko were hugely popular.

To celebrate Euro 2012, we decided to promote the Polish breakfast. After all, the fans visiting Poland need to live on something more than just soccer. To have the strength to cheer on their teams they have to eat well. This is a great opportunity to present the wealth of Polish cuisine to them. We have delicious cold cuts, excellent hard and blue cheese, a great range of dairy products. This being the beginning of summer, we also have a plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Neither must we forget our traditional dishes like duck, ¿ur soup, pork chops and all kinds of pierogi. It’s impossible to list everything, but I am convinced Polish restaurateurs will use Euro 2012 to promote Polish cuisine. Encouraged by a warm welcome and good food, soccer fans will want to return and will persuade their friends to visit the beautiful country on the Vistula river.

I encourage everyone to come here and enjoy the abundance and diversity of Polish food. I guarantee not only traditional Polish hospitality but also excellent cuisine—everyone can find something delicious to suit their taste.
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