>Mediterranean diet

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Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco have applied to the UN for world heritage status for the Mediterranean diet (although these are not the only countries bordering the Mediterranean and with similar ingredients) and a decision will be made in November.  According to an article in the Guardian this week, a spokesman for an Italian farmers’ group said: ‘Not only is this culture, but it also makes you live longer and better.’  There have been many claims for the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, particularly for its combination of olive oil, garlic, fresh vegetables and fish.  And, of course, red wine is supposed to be healthy too, in moderation.

Here in the Languedoc we eat what would be described as a Mediterranean diet, in my case because I love all its constituents and because it is what is available locally.  For me, local food is important… so where does this leave those who don’t live in a country where aubergines and wine grapes grow?  When I was in Wales earlier this summer I found that most of the tomatoes I ate were completely tasteless and usually unripe.  Maybe in countries further north it is better to eat tasty vegetables, varieties which are suited to the climate.  Everyone can enjoy olive oil and wine, but then there is the problem of transporting food long distances, with all the environmental damage that can do.  I don’t know what the solution is for those who live further away from the Mediterranean, those people must make their own choices, all I know is that one of the great pleasures of my life is the diet that is readily available to me here.

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Nardello and Corno di toro peppers from the garden and figs from a friend’s tree by the river near the village, all picked this morning.

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Lucques olives on our tree and Cardinale grapes ripening on our vine – the birds have left us a few!

Our lunch today:

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Terrine of joue, pig’s cheek, bought from the charcuterie stall in the village market, carrot salad (not very Mediterranean, perhaps, but it seemed to go with the terrine), cherry tomatoes from the garden, rosé wine from the Domaine des Pascales in the village and some of the figs we picked this morning.

9 thoughts on “>Mediterranean diet

  1. >Yes, it's easy to espouse a local diet, but according to Anthony Bourdain, that would mean eating a lot of horrible food in Iceland.I realized today that I'm going to want to bring home olive oil from Italy, but I can instead buy lots of local oil here and enjoy the Italian when I'm there. . . probably more cost-effective.Lunch looks pretty good.

  2. >The long term answer has to be to eat local, whatever those products are. If it's fresh then it'll be good for you, whether it's tomatoes and peppers or cabbage and swede!

  3. >I love to eat and drink local, and living in the Hunter Valley Australia I am blessed to have many organic wineries in the local area. I eat alot of fresh food from my own garden, but seeing your photo's of figs, there are still lot's of our fresh food that is grown many 1000's of miles away. Sadly, I recently learnt that Australia's Orange growing region is draught stricken and the government is paying farmers to pull up the orchards, and our oranges are imported from other countries!!! I'm never buying another orange.I'll have to grow them.

  4. >I have lived on an organic farm on the north coast of Ireland for a while, where the winds sweeping in from the North Atlantic lifted carpets up INSIDE the house. But we managed to live very healthily eating mostly local food. It is possible. It's clearly more challenging for people in extreme climates, but people have managed to live in those parts for centuries, from times well before globalisation and have survived. In arctic regions that would involve a diet based on seafood and meats, whilst in hot dessert regions people would have to eat insects, which incidentally are an excellent source of protein and are widely eaten in many regions of the world. Given all that, I'm rather glad that like you I can have a local mediterranean diet.

  5. >I love figs! We have a local farmers' market in Edinburgh which is excellent, plus we get an organic fruit & veg box delivered every week – still not as nice as your Mediterranean diet though ;-(

  6. >Like you, I love and thrive on a Mediterranean diet. Eating locally here (the Willamette Valley in Oregon, USA) results in an abundance of local fruit and produce year round. But many of the winter vegetables we eat are those that keep well and were harvested in fall or preserved in other ways, like drying or canning. Eating with the seasons appeals to me and also seems like a healthy and appropriate approach. That said, I'm still rather desperately looking forward to that first fat red tomato from the garden this year – it's been so cool this summer!

  7. >The "Mediterranean" diet is my diet of choice since I like to eat locally and with the seasons and I live in a Mediterranean type climate where it's easy to grow all those wonderful veggies and fruits. What's interesting to me is how much of the "heritage" Mediterranean diet comes from elsewhere – tomatoes, peppers, green beans, many dried beans, zucchini, winter squash, corn, and sunflowers from the Americas. Rice and eggplant came from Asia. And even garlic probably originated in Asia although it has been grown in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. I think that citrus plants also originated in Asia. So, is it what is eaten in the Mediterranean that is so healthful or is it the lifestyle that we get to enjoy in that type of climate, or a combination? Was the diet as healthful before the influx of foods from around the world? I tend to think that the Mediterranean diet isn't a kind of magic bullet, that it's possible to enjoy a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle almost anywhere. Simply eating a healthy diet won't guarantee a long and healthy life, a healthy balanced outlook and approach to living is also important. What a can of worms that application is opening up!

  8. >Thanks for all your comments – this is a subject that seems to inspire more comments, and longer ones, than any other!Michelle: I quite agree that eating a healthy diet can't guarantee a long life. I don't think anything can – I know this from the early deaths of members of my own family. I wouldn't make any health claims for any diet, I just eat what I enjoy and can find locally, most of which happens to be Mediterranean.

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