“Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long” said the American poet and humourist Ogden Nash. He could have been describing the reasons behind the EU funded MedDiet project launched in Rome earlier this year. The future of the Mediterranean diet is under threat.
Growing affluence and globalisation has brought unexpected consequences- the growing number of latch key kids, dual working households and increasing sedentary lifestyles are encroaching on the Mediterranean customs which have endured for thousands of years. So Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon have joined forces to stop the slow erosion of their traditions, especially among the younger generation.
Despite growing international acclaim for the Mediterranean Diet, the youth are increasingly turning their backs on Mama’s cooking and opting for fast food for convenience and its “cool” image. A recent OECD study highlighting how obesity is on the rise, showed that not even countries traditionally renowned for their healthy diets, such as Spain and Italy, are immune.
Domingo Valiente, Executive Director of the Mediterranean Diet Foundation in Barcelona explained: “Our current pace of life is making us develop unhealthy habits which are distancing us from the Mediterranean diet….We can certainly say that Spain is one of the proponents of the Mediterranean Diet, but it is also true that current lifestyles and globalisation are a threat. Our traditions and food habits are still strong enough for me to say we follow the Mediterranean Diet. But if I were to point to the sector that is the most vulnerable I would have to mention the youngsters, which is why we are focussing our efforts on promoting healthy eating habits to this sector.” (http://www.euroxpress.es/index.php/Printer/noticias/2013/10/18/)
The project to be rolled out concurrently in all six countries will primarily target children and adolescents. Interactive educational experiences such as cookery workshops, farm visits and taste laboratories will promote traditional skills and traditions and aim to create an appreciation of local foods and dishes which are unique to their country.
So next time your children refuse to eat your lovingly prepared healthy dinner remember, even Mediterranean mothers are struggling to get their children to eat their greens!