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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 methodology applied to the study of Mediterranean Diet sustainability is an inter-sector approach based on the three pillars (environmental, economic and socio-cultural) of sustainable development, integrated and complemented with health and nutrition. This approach also considers the political and institutional factor concerning sustainable management of the agri-food system.

CIHEAM’s involvement with this issue began in 2001, and its activity is based on the interaction between the following factors:

- the new pyramid of the modern Mediterranean Diet

- the definition of Sustainable Diets

- the 2010 UNESCO definition which recognised the Mediterranean Diet as intangible cultural heritage.

During the International workshop organised by CIHEAM-Bari in 2011, these elements constituted the starting point of the discussion aimed at formulating guidelines for improving the sustainability of diets by using the Mediterranean Diet as a model of sustainable nutrition.

A collaborative process co-ordinated by CIHEAM Bari and the FAO – with ENEA, CNR, INRAN, CIISCAM, Bioversity International, WWF-Italia – and supported by experts from Mediterranean countries (Spain, France, Greece, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, etc.), as well as representatives of international food and nutrition organizations (FENS, ICAF, IUNS, Forum on Mediterranean Food Cultures, Fundacion Dieta Mediterranea, etc.) has produced a draft list of potential indicators and a methodology for assessing diet sustainability in the Mediterranean area. The methodology is reported below.

Inter-disciplinary and inter-sector approach for a sustainable food system in the Mediterranean area

This approach is aimed at assessing the overall sustainability of the diet and pattern of food consumption  in Mediterranean countries and in some specific areas of this region.


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