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”... deriving from the Greek “diaita” meaning way of life,  the Mediterranean diet is a social practice based on the set of skills, knowledge and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table of the Mediterranean area, including the crops, harvest, fisheries, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food” – 16th November 2010, Nairobi, Mediterranean Diet, intangible cultural heritage -  UNESCO

The impact of production and food consumption on the environment can be measured using indicators like the Carbon, Environmental  and Water Footprints that express the impact on natural resources in terms of CO2 emissions (associated with climate change), land use and water consumption.

The type, composition and amount of food produced and consumed has a significant influence on CO2 emissions and on the human need  for nature in terms of the relationship between consumption of natural resources and the Earth’s ability to regenerate them and also on lastly, water consumption.

Studies of these indicators have shown that the production of foods making up the Mediterranean diet impacts less on natural resources than the production of other diets, for example the North American diet, based mainly on consumption of meat and sugars.

Modern food systems are mostly based on this latter type of consumption; they produce large amounts of greenhouse gases and cause profound alterations of ecosystems in terms of erosion, deforestation, chemical contamination, water deficit and loss of biodiversity.

The rich land and sea biodiversity of the Mediterranean area includes many endemic species, and is threatened by the standardization of cultural practices, by  monocropping and by changing life styles. The genetic diversity of food crops and animal breeds is rapidly diminishing, and with it also the food and cultural model typical of the Mediterranean region.

Related articles:

* Water Footprint in the Mediterranean Food Chain: Implications of Food Consumption Patterns and Food Wastage

* Food system sustainability and food security: connecting the dots

* Ecological, carbon and water footprints of food production and consumption in the Mediterranean region

* Natural resources and food in the Mediterranean - MediTerra 2012

* Food Consumption Patterns and Sustainable Natural Resources Management in the Mediterranean Region

* Food environmental sustainability in Bosnia, Italy and Serbia: water, ecological and carbon footprints

* A Preliminary Assessment of the Environmental Sustainability of the Current Italian Dietary Pattern: Water Footprint Related to Food Consumption

* Nitrogen fertilizers in the Mediterranean region: use trends and environmental implications

* Contribution of Mediterranean food consumption patterns to sustainable natural resources management



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