Eating the Mediterranean Way

The Journey to a Longer, Healthier Life

May 15, 2021
Fads. They come; they go. Think Hula Hoops, Pet Rocks, Fidgets, Beanie Babies. How about diets? Scarsdale, Atkins, grapefruit, cabbage soup. That said, the Mediterranean Diet (MD) is no fad. And for good reason. There are no rigid rules on precisely what, when, and how much to eat. No carb counting, no “five meals a day.”

Often more appropriately called “Mediterranean Cuisine,” the Med way is among the most diverse, healthy and unique culinary traditions in the world. Importantly, the benefits are as abundant as the wide array of food choices. Folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean live longer and suffer less from cancer and cardiovascular problems than most Americans.

The bottom line: Eating in the style of the Mediterranean peoples doesn’t just increase your longevity but your quality of life as well.

Mediterranean cuisine has no real structure, other than a healthy, well-balanced eating pattern, owing much of its success to its components, typically a high intake of vegetables, fruits, oils, grains, legumes, fish, and eggs, balanced by a moderate consumption of meat and wine.
A Bit of History
Derived from the Greek word “diaita”- lifestyle, way of life, the Med Way is more of a lifestyle than just a diet. With a tradition that offers a cuisine rich in colors, aromas and memories, Mediterranean gastronomy has enjoyed a glorious history.

Remarkably, the Mediterranean diet has its origin in the middle ages as a nutritional model closely related to the lifestyle of the Mediterranean peoples throughout their history. As the dietary patterns of these diverse cultures converged through vigorous trade, they then infused the unique food culture of the Arab world and beyond.

Originated in the earliest of times and shared through the Millennia, this traditional Mediterranean eating style from the “cradle of civilization” has its roots in Mesopotamia, Persia and other ancient colonies situated along the earliest Mediterranean Sea trade routes.

The spice trade routes eventually grew to include the Silk Road east to Asia and south into Africa. By 1000 C.E., Venice became the major center for trade from the Black Sea, the Atlantic Coast and extended Mediterranean cities, known today as the 21 sun-soaked countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. This trade in commercial goods and produce gave way to spices, foodstuffs, and a collection of eating habits – a “style” of eating – that has lasted to this day.
The Med Way Comes to America
The discovery of the health benefits of MD is credited to Ancel Keys, an American scientist at the University of Minnesota, who determined the correlation between cardiovascular disease and diet for the first time. This revelation helped to scientifically prove the nutritional validity of the Mediterranean diet and its contribution to the health of the populations that embraced it.

It’s important to note that there isn't just “one” Mediterranean diet. Latins eat differently than the Arabic who eat differently than the North Africans. Using essentially the same ingredients, individual families, tribes, villages, and regions added their own special touches and components to make them unique. This was probably the origin of “fusion” cuisine.

However, the common characteristic is that all of these eating styles share a balanced use of food rich in fiber, antioxidants and unsaturated fats. This healthy approach reduced the consumption of animal fats and cholesterol to provide stability between energy intake and expenditure.
Interestingly, tomatoes originated in South America and were introduced to the Mediterranean in the early 1500s. Once described as an “exotic curiosity,” the tomato was thought to be simply an ornamental fruit. Even though it was originated in the Americas, when considered edible, it was the first red vegetable that eventually became a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine and a significant example of the reciprocated trade relationship of the time.
Your Boarding Pass to a Mediterranean Eating Adventure
And so, from this distant and distinct history, the Med Way lives on, thanks to our own immigrant origins and the staying power of a style of eating enjoyed for more than 3000 years. The traditional dishes we eat today are a reflection of the immense cultural influences and the historic availability of certain foods.

And here’s the really good news. You don’t need a passport to enjoy the bounty the Mediterranean has to offer. Wildfare is here to help you bring it right to your own table!

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