The Mediterranean Diet and Spain have a love affair. Spain possesses the largest organic biodiversity in Europe, with the highest designated organic agricultural acreage and as home to a third of all endemic European flora and fauna species. Many ambitious regulations within the country are aimed at protecting the waters and organic territories where we cultivate our high quality produce. Did you known Spain is the second most mountainous European country just behind Switzerland? Those mountains create microclimates that contribute to stop extreme temperatures favoring a high quality agriculture, including wine growing. Portugal is another pillar of the Mediterranean diet, the whole Iberian Peninsula shares a same social approach to food and wine. Morocco, the North African nation venerates hospitality, spending time with others, shared meals, local produce growing, and home-cooking making it a great example of just how succulent, diverse, and healthy the Mediterranean lifestyle can be.
The dehesa: the Mediterranean forest
The dehesa is a Mediterranean historical and cultural landscape, a unique ecosystem based on a sustainable extensive farm model is shared by Spain and Portugal. It derived from the Mediterranean forest, and is constituted by holm oaks, cork oaks, grass and bushes. “However, dehesa is not only a landscape, as well is an agroforestry system, a type of land use, a farming system, an ecological entity, a kind of vegetation, a pastureland, an enterprise, and a legal concept.” (Joffre et al., 1988; Plieninger, 2007; Moreno and Pulido, 2009; Ro- dríguez-Estévez et al., 2012; Huntsinger et al., 2013).
Here livestock uses large pasturelands in wooded regions. These systems stand out for their high environmental and socio-economic value, where livestock farming plays an essential role in their maintenance and conservation. Homeland of the Iberian pigs, this unique environment well deserves to be explored. If you ever visit a pure acorn fed Iberian pigs finca you’ll step into the heart of the dehesa.
What are the Mediterranean Diet ingredients?
The Mediterranean diet is our motto. The Mediterranean diet, awarded with UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage designation, is more than just a healthful gastronomic recommendation: it is a way of life. In few other places is this as perfectly exemplified as in Spain, Portugal and Morocco, where our relaxed, traditional preparation of foods with olive oils, vegetables, fresh seasonal products and, of course, a healthy dose of wine per day comprise a delectable and wholesome diet riddled with health benefits.
U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, revealed earlier this year for the third consecutive year, the Mediterranean diet remains the number one best diet overall.
List of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean Diet’s pyramid:
- Olive oil: use it as your main source of added fat.
- Fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts: eat plenty, at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, they’re full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
- Bread and grain products: slow carbs provide energy, and fibre, vitamins and minerals too.
- Dairy: mainly yogurt and cheese because they contain live microorganismes capable of improving the balance of our intestinal microflora.
- Meat: moderate the intake of animal fat, and better consume unprocessed lean meat. Preferably white meat to red meat.
- Fish and seafood: consume fish abundantly, it has properties quite similar to those of vegetable origin which are known to protect against heart disease.
- Sweets: fresh fruits should be your daily dessert, leave cakes for special occasions.
- Wine: in moderation, it has proved to be a goof heart protector.
- Water: a daily intake of 1.5 to 2 liters of water should be guaranteed (this includes water, herbal teas, soups and fruits)
We should consider adding two more elements to the list:
- Fresh produce: choose always ingredients with minimal processing, locally sourced preferably.
- Staying active and socializing: not only do they positively affect our body but guarantee healthy minds and happiness.
Which countries follow the Mediterranean diet?
When you think about Mediterranean food, your mind may go to Italy, Greece and France and the blue Med, and you are right, but the geographic boundaries are broader. We have to consider products mostly associated with the latitude (weather conditions) where the Mediterranean sea is located, rather than its proximity to this sea. And those areas of the globe sharing the Mediterranean climate are located around the 40th parallel. The 40th parallel is a circle of latitude that is 40 degrees North and South of the equatorial plane of the earth. In the North for example, the imaginary line drawn parallel 40º N runs along the Mediterranean sea, through Asia, Japan, stops in North America and returns to the Iberian Peninsula.
Have you ever stopped to consider where wine is produced in the world? Exactly between the 30th and the 50th degree of latitude, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, right where we find the Mediterranean food patterns.
And what are those countries?
- Argentina (Pampa)
- China (some areas)
- South Africa
- Southwestern Australia
As we follow the roads of the Mediterranean diet we are immersed in a broader concept of cultural rooted traditions, social practices, landscapes, trades and table. We invite you to embark on a journey with us to sample every element on a unique lifestyle journey in Spain, Portugal or Morocco.