The essence of the mediterranean diet consists of eating fruits and vegetables (preferably locally produced), legumes, cereals, oily fish, a little cheese, a little meat and extra virgin olive oil. The anthropologist Marino Niola, in his preface to the essay by Elizabeth Moro The Mediterranean Diet. Myth and History of a Way of Life,
defined it as a philosophy of life comprising healthy food, without overindulgence, reduced levels of stress and clean air.
Who discovered it?
Two leading scientists, who are also husband and wife, Ancel Keys and Margaret Haney, appreciated its value after staying for 34 years in Pioppi, in the province of Salerno, and define it as a diet that is low in fat but rich in taste, characterizing the food of peoples along the coast of Mediterranean Sea
: Italy, Spain, France, Morocco, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Croatia.
A heritage site diet
Considered by FAO
, (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) as one of the more sustainable models of agri-food in the world and recognized by WHO, (World Health Organization) as one of the healthiest diets in 2010, the mediterranean diet, together with its many culinary skills, has been recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO (Organization of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
8,000 years before Christ, Chickpeas, lentils and beans made up the diet of middle-eastern civilizations, while vegetables, fruit, cheese, wine, bread and oil were consumed by the Greeks and Romans at the dawn of their culture. The mediterranean diet, however, while retaining a steady base of elements over time, evolved and expanded, incorporating foods from the New World such as beans, potatoes, tomatoes and pasta, introduced to the diet only at the beginning of the 19th century thanks to milled durum wheat from south Russia.
According to Keys, the mediterranean diet continues to change in favor of an increasing intake of meat and dairy products. Sweets, meat and dairy products have, in just a few decades, become an integral part of everyday life in the countries bordering the Mediterranean; wherea until the 1950s they would rarely be found at the dinner table, reserved only for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms.