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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

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