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The Mediterranean diet is good for us and for the planet

2021-06-18 15:37

The Boniviri editorial staff

sustainability, sustainability, agrifood, Sicily, Mediterranean diet, healthy, environment, SustainableGastronomyDay,

The Mediterranean diet is good for us and for the planet

A healthy and environmentally friendly food lifestyle.

Today is the World Day of Sustainable Gastronomy, organized by the United Nations to underline the importance of an environmentally friendly diet, capable of safeguarding the ecosystem and human health.

For some years now, the topic of nutrition has forcefully entered national and international political agendas. The problems to be faced are many: by 2050, to cope with population growth, food production will have to increase by more than 70%, putting planetary resources under pressure. At the same time, it worries the number of people who suffer from food shortages and, on the other hand, those who are overweight and suffer from obesity. For years, the food system has done nothing but aggravate our impact on the planet, leading to enormous waste and exacerbating social inequalities.

With the pandemic and the green revolution, these contradictions are coming to light, and there is an increasing need to revolutionize the way food is produced and consumed. On the consumer side, in particular, we hear about sustainable diets very often. In our previous article, we introduced the world of climatarians, those who intend to fight climate change through their food choices. But what is the most sustainable diet for the planet?

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The Mediterranean diet

Always considered a heart-healthy diet, since the 1990s the Mediterranean diet has begun to be taken as an example of a balanced and environmentally sustainable diet. Thanks to the high consumption of vegetables, legumes, fresh and dried fruit, olive oil and cereals, the moderate consumption of fish and dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt) and the even more moderate consumption of meat and sweets, this model food can truly be defined as double beneficial, for us and for the planet. It is estimated that to obtain 100 calories, the Mediterranean diet causes an environmental impact of about 60% less than a North American or North European diet, based to a greater extent on animal fats and meat.

In 2013, the Mediterranean diet became Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as it is able to benefit health, while at the same time promoting the production of food with low environmental impact and the conservation of biodiversity.

In addition to the environmental benefits, a sustainable diet such as the Mediterranean one leads to a series of social and economic benefits. The consumption of local and seasonal products, in fact, contributes to the enhancement of companies and territories, preserving the flavors of tradition. Furthermore, the adoption of a healthy eating style leads to a reduction in national medical expenditure: following a balanced diet such as the Mediterranean one, it is in fact possible to maintain a healthy weight, with lower cardiovascular risks and a mortality reduced by up to 30%.

Is the Mediterranean diet disappearing?

Paradoxically, in Southern Italy, the cradle of the Mediterranean diet, an inversion of food trends is taking place: from a diet based on cereals and plant-based foods we are moving towards an increasingly "packaged" diet. This has led to an increase in people with obesity problems, now 11% of the population in the southern regions of our peninsula.

Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that is occurring in all the countries of the Mediterranean area, especially among the youngest. The alarm was raised a few years ago by Joao Breda, head of the WHO European office: "The Mediterranean diet for the children of these countries is dead and the closest to the Mediterranean diet are the Swedes".

The advent of sweets and junk foods has initiated a nutritional transition that is distancing the young inhabitants of Mediterranean countries from this extraordinary diet, with the risk of losing an immense social, cultural and environmental heritage. Now more than ever it is important to retrace our steps, trying to rediscover those flavors and that healthy lifestyle that make our territory unique in the world.


Sources:

- https://www.innesti.com/2-equilibri/dieta-mediterranea-salute-cultura-e-sostenibilita/

- https://biopianeta.it/2018/05/dieta-mediterranea-addio-la-seguono-solo-in-svezia/

- https://wonderwhy.it/qual-e-la-dieta-piu-sostenibile-per-noi-e-per-il-pianeta/#:~:text= It is fundamental to increase the intake, food compared to others foods.

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