Cooking based on the way feed ourselves, the way we cook and share our food with others
SPAIN Just a few years ago, the Mediterranean diet was all the rage throughout the world. As a way of life, it was healthy and efficient yet not in the least complicated to live by. Based on ancient techniques, many of which were born of necessity, the geographical boundaries are the three continents that touch on, yes, the Mediterranean: Africa, Asia and Europe, all of whom share similar climates, cultures and even religions - the latter having their foundations in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The heritage is ancient, transmitted from generation to generation over thousands of years. The Mediterranean diet is the result of inter-cultural exchange that has develioped over the cenuries. The Mediterranean peoples, however much they have in common, must then also have their own identities.>>>
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While there are innumerable products, from vegetables to meats and pastas, that are common to almost all the countries that surround the Mediterranean Basin, it is the way they are used that gives them their originality. As a simple example, let's use rice: just think of a paella, compared to a risotto, or the way it is presented in Turkey (XXXX) or Morocco, a country not best known for its rice but one that uses it constantly. A simple example, yes, but one that brings us to all the rest of the main ingredients of the diet we're talking about.
Indeed, it is the balance of all its ingredients, and therefore of their nutritive values, that make the Mediterranean diet so healthy. Combined with exercise, there is even a way of preventing or at least delaying ill health.
Health professionals, including physicians as well as nutritionists, agree that the traditional Mediterranean diet contributes to diminish the risk of the kind of chronic diseases so extended among 'developed societies'. They insist on the benefits of abundant use of cereals and their derivatives, legumes, dried or fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables, less use of fish, fowl, including chicken, eggs and the derivatives of milk, and even less use of red meat and their derivatives, including sausages of all kinds as well as charcuterie. It is often described as 'quality of life'.
Danger of extinction
Despite their bountiful benefits, though, there is danger on the horizon: the Mediterranenan diet is being left out of the nutrition food loop in favour, alas, of fast food. Measures should be taken for the Med's protection.
The influence of globalization and cultural changes have brought with them bad eating habits and customs, alien to the Mediterranean lifestyle.
These changes, progressive but speeding up, is already showing its effect on the health of Spain's population. Obesity is rapidly becoming a significant problem, especially in the under-12s and particularly in the bigger cities.
These changes are not just in the shape and size of the population: the less we consume of what is traditional -all those vegetables and other Mediterranean produce- the more the traditional land cultivation is also abandoned, causing less production and therefore less use of the land and the eventual degradation of the countryside.
After all the Med diet is part of the country's heritage, received down through the generations, something that applies to all the peoples of the Mediterranean Basin. It is a way of life, a means of communication (in the kitchen, around the table). It is also a way of sharing, of sustainable agriculture.d