One of the recurrent themes in the discourse about the Greek crisis is the country’s lack of a broad export base—or so the various prophets of economic doom would have it: “What does Greece export except fruit, yoghurt, ouzo and oil?”, the unspoken corollary being that the country’s economy is hopelessly dependent on tourism and agricultural products and has very little hope of ever climbing out of the deep recession it has been in the for the last five years.
The truth is, food and beverages accounted for only 11% of the value of Greek exports in 2011 (link in Greek). Energy and petroleum-based products accounted for slightly more than a third of exports, building materials another 12.5%. Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics—yes, cosmetics—accounted for 4%.
Among these products is the lovely series of shower gels by Red Water Laboratories, (BNeF Benefit Hellas S.A.). The series uses natural plant extracts, oils and mineral-rich thermal spring water from Loutrochori, a village in Pella in Eastern Macedonia that was renowned in antiquity for its spa. I have no idea how or if thermal spring water rejuvenates the skin (not that it was a concern of mine), but the gels foam very nicely and smell good, with refreshing country scents of cedar, sage or rosemary, depending on the gel. Red Line products are also free of GMOs, silicone, petroleum derivatives, parabens and propylene glycol, and the olive oil used in the moisturizing gel comes from organically cultivated olive trees.
Incidentally, the company also produces a DEET-free natural insect repellent that actually doesn’t smell half-bad, the citronella oil being balanced with notes of eucalyptus, basil, cinnamon and mint.