Enlargement of the Emblematic Communities for the Mediterranean Diet

Friday, December 6, 2013

On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 in Baku (Azerbaijan) the Intergovernmental Committee of UNESCO has decided to extend the Emblematic Communities for the Mediterranean Diet. The issue of enlargement began when the four countries that initially supported the inclusion of the Mediterranean Diet in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, namely Greece, Spain, Italy and Morocco, decided to include Cyprus, Portugal and Croatia as well.

The official announcement of UNESCO mentioned: "According to the file submitted to UNESCO by the seven countries, the Mediterranean diet -which comes from the Greek word diaita (diet) or way of life- constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and particularly, consumption of food. However, it encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends. The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities which Agros in Cyprus, Chefchaouen in Morocco, Cilento in Italy, islands Hvar and Brac in Croatia, Koroni in Greece, Soria in Spain and Tavira in Portugal are examples. Women play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques. 

Such representative communities were declared as Emblematic Communities, the Safeguards of the Mediterranean Diet, in order to preserve and promote not only the nutritional model but also its cultural dimension.

It is a necessity and not a luxury to promote our gastronomic cultural heritage as integral part of our cultural identity and social life, during the process of erosion of the nutritional model that arises because of modern and unhealthy lifestyle.