I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Preserving the Mediterranean Diet

Olives

A walk through our sprawling Spanish market may place you in a schizophrenic state of confusion as to where you might want to spend your change. “Well, this lady’s fruit looks unbelievably good,” you say to yourself “but so does this guy over here.” The internal bantering continues with, “These vegetables at this stand look almost fake they’re so beautiful, but there’s always such a long line of people standing there. Maybe I should go to produce stand at the back of the market next to the 7 stands of fresh fish, 2 stands of fresh herbs and that killer stand with those delicious olives? Damn, there’s just too many choices!” That is our daily experience here. The fantastic diversity of fresh fruit, fish, herbs, cheese and meat matched with reasonable prices has made us swoon with joy. Being Americans, this isn’t something your local supermarket will ever be able to offer. And even when prices are a bit steep, you’ll find a human face behind the stand who is the direct link between you and the farmer, assuming that he or she is not the farmer themselves. This all translates to good eatin’!

Therefore, it is of no surprise that Spain wants the U.N. to recognize the traditional Mediterranean diet on the list of protected world heritage. Spain feels that UNESCO should consider the Mediterranean diet as the very first cuisine to be recognized as a unique cultural heritage alongside the current list of traditions, festivals, crafts and rituals. And, they’re not alone. Portugal’s Agriculture Minister, Jaime Silva, feels it’s “a very good idea by a member state with a very good cuisine, just like Portugal, France, Italy and Greece.”

But here is the kicker. Although the Mediterranean diet of olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and wine all are considered a solid base towards a rich, balanced and healthy lifestyle, the paper failed to mention a recent study published by the Spanish Government that found half of all Spanish adults to be overweight or obese. Which in the end, could make the Mediterranean diet a relic, pushed to the shadows for the new modern lifestyle of fast, convenient, high additive cooking that allows you to watch your favorite Spanish telenovela (soap opera) while munching on your microwave dinner. Let’s all hope that the pendulum will eventually swing the opposite direction and promote home cooking, slow meals, great conversations, and of course, more fabulous wine!

Cheers,
Gabriella

  • bbennett

    With apologies to the Beatles. . . "And curse Ray "McDonalds" Kroc, he was such a stupid get — all the fatties sing – Hey Burger Man, Ray, what do say, Burger Man Ray" Of course, we can't simply toss off a little ditty about fast food and fat people. Diet is only one aspect of a lifestyle. Fast food alone doesn't make people fat. To me, it's a choice, which implies responsibility. Meaning, people have a responsibility to make the right food and lifestyle choices if they want to maintain the medically determined "normal" body weight. Gabriella, we have talked on this subject at great length in the past and you have written numerous posts related to this issue. It really saddens me to hear the overweight and obesity statistics you mention for Spain. I have more to say on this subject. But, I need to return my attention to the other computer screen, where I earn my bread (literally). Viva La Mediterranean Diet!

  • bbennett

    With apologies to the Beatles. . .

    “And curse Ray “McDonalds” Kroc, he was such a stupid get — all the fatties sing – Hey Burger Man, Ray, what do say, Burger Man Ray”

    Of course, we can’t simply toss off a little ditty about fast food and fat people. Diet is only one aspect of a lifestyle. Fast food alone doesn’t make people fat. To me, it’s a choice, which implies responsibility. Meaning, people have a responsibility to make the right food and lifestyle choices if they want to maintain the medically determined “normal” body weight.

    Gabriella, we have talked on this subject at great length in the past and you have written numerous posts related to this issue. It really saddens me to hear the overweight and obesity statistics you mention for Spain.

    I have more to say on this subject. But, I need to return my attention to the other computer screen, where I earn my bread (literally).

    Viva La Mediterranean Diet!

  • Gabriella

    I cannot blame you for feeling frustrated Bill. It appears that several cultures are forgetting the basic tenant to a happy, healthy life is to actually be conscious of where your food comes from and why you are choosing it. I agree wholeheartedly that the food you eat is a choice, as much as I feel the wine you drink is a choice, but neither are being consumed consciously. Rather, they are used as empty fillers – something you take in out of necessity and convenience, but not something you appreciate. Granted, I am not the chef in the house, but I am a human rabbit, always preferring a good vegetable over Twinkie. Sadly, I feel as if I am in starting to fall in the minority. I can only hope that the epidemic of Diabetes in America will wake up the rest of the world to one of many consequences of unconscious eating.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    I cannot blame you for feeling frustrated Bill. It appears that several cultures are forgetting the basic tenant to a happy, healthy life is to actually be conscious of where your food comes from and why you are choosing it. I agree wholeheartedly that the food you eat is a choice, as much as I feel the wine you drink is a choice, but neither are being consumed consciously. Rather, they are used as empty fillers – something you take in out of necessity and convenience, but not something you appreciate. Granted, I am not the chef in the house, but I am a human rabbit, always preferring a good vegetable over Twinkie. Sadly, I feel as if I am in starting to fall in the minority. I can only hope that the epidemic of Diabetes in America will wake up the rest of the world to one of many consequences of unconscious eating.

  • Nate

    Whenever any conversation about conscientious food consumption comes up, I like to ask if folks have read Michael Pollan's excellent book, <a href="Omnivore's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php“>Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan examines America's paradoxical obsession with eating healthily with our dismal eating habits, and discusses the disconnect most Americans have between our image of where our food comes from, and the reality of the industrial farms providing most of the fruits, vegetables and meat consumed. Pollan is a professor of science and environmental journalism at UC-Berkeley, and writes in a very friendly, conversational style. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it – even if you're a foodie and put a good deal of thought into this already, it is a fascinating read that will have you challenging some of your assumptions. Enjoy…

  • Nate

    Whenever any conversation about conscientious food consumption comes up, I like to ask if folks have read Michael Pollan's excellent book, <a href="Omnivore's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php“>Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan examines America's paradoxical obsession with eating healthily with our dismal eating habits, and discusses the disconnect most Americans have between our image of where our food comes from, and the reality of the industrial farms providing most of the fruits, vegetables and meat consumed. Pollan is a professor of science and environmental journalism at UC-Berkeley, and writes in a very friendly, conversational style. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it – even if you're a foodie and put a good deal of thought into this already, it is a fascinating read that will have you challenging some of your assumptions. Enjoy…

  • Nate

    Whenever any conversation about conscientious food consumption comes up, I like to ask if folks have read Michael Pollan's excellent book, <a href="Omnivore's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php“>Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan examines America's paradoxical obsession with eating healthily with our dismal eating habits, and discusses the disconnect most Americans have between our image of where our food comes from, and the reality of the industrial farms providing most of the fruits, vegetables and meat consumed. Pollan is a professor of science and environmental journalism at UC-Berkeley, and writes in a very friendly, conversational style. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it – even if you're a foodie and put a good deal of thought into this already, it is a fascinating read that will have you challenging some of your assumptions. Enjoy…

  • Gabriella

    Thanks Nate for the head's up on the book. I've heard about the book before being a fantastic read, but just haven't gotten around to reading it. I'll look out for it. Out of curiosity, Does Pollan mention the issue of 'control' both personal and social as being a factor in the issue? I ask because as I see it, food is something tangible and real, one of the few things humans tend to see as within their control, unlike war, politics or the environment. Take your recent article on basil at vinvenio.blogspot.com. You are one of the few that actually grow something, care for it, and use it in a meal. From start to finish, you are part of the process, whereas I feel the majority of Americans have no idea what basil is, where it comes from or what to do with it. Maybe they've heard the word, but the history and use of it is completely foreign. You are controlling your external and internal environment by both educating and by practice, while they, I think, are filling the fear of not being able to control the external world by sabotaging the internal one. One can also make the argument wine: consumption versus appreciation, education and patience. Wine is just another thing to "think" about, right? So why bother thinking when you can just guzzle. Sigh….when did we stop caring? Maybe it is an issue of information overload, hearing too many sound bites everyday and making us want to just shut ourselves off from the world and eat frozen pizza. I have no idea if this makes sense because I am rambling at this point, but I feel like I could fill volumes on the subject. Any thoughts?

  • http://vinvenio.blogspot.com/ Nate

    Whenever any conversation about conscientious food consumption comes up, I like to ask if folks have read Michael Pollan’s excellent book, Omnivore’s Dilemma. Pollan examines America’s paradoxical obsession with eating healthily with our dismal eating habits, and discusses the disconnect most Americans have between our image of where our food comes from, and the reality of the industrial farms providing most of the fruits, vegetables and meat consumed.

    Pollan is a professor of science and environmental journalism at UC-Berkeley, and writes in a very friendly, conversational style. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it – even if you’re a foodie and put a good deal of thought into this already, it is a fascinating read that will have you challenging some of your assumptions.

    Enjoy…

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Thanks Nate for the head’s up on the book. I’ve heard about the book before being a fantastic read, but just haven’t gotten around to reading it. I’ll look out for it. Out of curiosity, Does Pollan mention the issue of ‘control’ both personal and social as being a factor in the issue? I ask because as I see it, food is something tangible and real, one of the few things humans tend to see as within their control, unlike war, politics or the environment.

    Take your recent article on basil at vinvenio.blogspot.com. You are one of the few that actually grow something, care for it, and use it in a meal. From start to finish, you are part of the process, whereas I feel the majority of Americans have no idea what basil is, where it comes from or what to do with it. Maybe they’ve heard the word, but the history and use of it is completely foreign. You are controlling your external and internal environment by both educating and by practice, while they, I think, are filling the fear of not being able to control the external world by sabotaging the internal one. One can also make the argument wine: consumption versus appreciation, education and patience.

    Wine is just another thing to “think” about, right? So why bother thinking when you can just guzzle. Sigh….when did we stop caring? Maybe it is an issue of information overload, hearing too many sound bites everyday and making us want to just shut ourselves off from the world and eat frozen pizza.

    I have no idea if this makes sense because I am rambling at this point, but I feel like I could fill volumes on the subject. Any thoughts?

  • Enrico

    Yes i agree with declaring the Mediterranean diet as UNESCO patrimony. The Mediterranena diet is of everybody!!! I hate those Fad diets and people who promte them, that require money to follow their principles, foods and recipes. The Mediterranean diet is free Thank you Enrico from Italy (Sicily)

  • http://www.mediterraneanbook.com Enrico

    Yes i agree with declaring the Mediterranean diet as UNESCO patrimony.

    The Mediterranena diet is of everybody!!!

    I hate those Fad diets and people who promte them, that require money to follow their principles, foods and recipes.

    The Mediterranean diet is free

    Thank you
    Enrico from Italy (Sicily)

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