When Turkey turned to a free market economy in the 1980’s, foreign products flooded into the country, creating a widespread perception that imported meant better. Many Turks abandoned traditional ways in favor of foreign ones. This commercialization has had major effects on villages and farmlands. Recognizing that food, health, and environment are closely related, Victor Ananias decided to cultivate new respect for the environment and for simple, natural ways of living, eating, and farming in Turkey.
Drawing on his family background and from his travels, Ananias established Bugday (“wheat” in Turkish), the first all-organic health food store, restaurant, and environmental and cultural center of its kind in Turkey. Bugday provides information about organic food production to people ranging from village farmers to agricultural policymakers. He has established systems for certifying and marketing locally produced organic food and other products, and is striving to preserve traditional, low-impact methods for growing food. He combines education, outreach, and the development of new markets for organically grown foods. At Bugday’s two offices, volunteers produce a bimonthly publication that contains articles about local products, organic and sustainable farming techniques, environmental issues, and vegetarian/vegan recipes.