Mediterranean Diet

On 16 November 2010 in Nairobi, UNESCO inscribed on the List of Intangible World Heritage, the Mediterranean Diet, whose proposal for Inscription was jointly advanced by Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco according to the following criteria:

Criterion 1 The element constitutes an intangible cultural heritage referred to in Article 2 of the Convention.

“The Mediterranean diet is a set of traditional practices, knowledge and skills handed down from generation to generation and provide a sense of belonging and continuity for the reference population.”

Criterion 2 The inclusion of the element will help to ensure visibility and awareness of the significance of the intangible cultural heritage and to encourage dialogue, thus reflecting cultural diversity throughout the world and witnessing human creativity.

“Its Inscription on the Representative List could give more visibility to the diversity of intangible cultural heritage and promote intercultural dialogue at a regional and international level”.

Criterion 3 Measures are developed to safeguard, protect and promote the element.

“The nomination describes a series of safeguard commitments undertaken in each country, together with a plan of transnational measures aimed at ensuring transmission to younger generations and promoting awareness of the Mediterranean diet.”

Criterion 4 The element is included in an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage in the territory of the requesting State, or of the requesting States, as in Article 11 and Article 12 of the Convention.

“The inscription is the result of the close collaboration of the official bodies in the four States, supported by the active participation of communities, and includes proof of the free estimate and informed consent of the latter.”

Criterion 5 The element is included in an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage on the territory of the requesting State, or of the requesting States, as in Article 11 and Article 12 of the Convention.

“The Mediterranean diet has been included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List in the four states in question and will be included in a transnational Mediterranean Inventory that is underway.”

Declaration of Outstanding Universal Value and Justification for Inscription

“The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food” – the Evaluation Committee for the inscription of UNESCO reports – “the Mediterranean diet includes much more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since collective meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given birth to a formidable body of knowledge, songs, proverbs, stories and legends.”

The Mediterranean Diet is characterized by a nutritional pattern that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit, and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy products and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting the traditions of each community. However, the Mediterranean Diet (from the Greek diaita, or lifestyle) is much more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since a shared meal is the basis of social customs and festivals in a community, and has given rise to a remarkable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, stories and legends.

The Diet is founded on the respect of the territory and biodiversity, and guarantees the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts related to fishing and agriculture in the Mediterranean communities such as in the areas of Soria in Spain, Koroni in Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco. Women play an indispensable role in the transmission of skills, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and in the preservation of techniques.

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