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Mediterranean Food Pyramid Inspires Med-Mark Food Symbol

Every since my husband James and I met we’ve made it a point to follow the Mediterranean diet of our ancestors. It’s healthy, delicious in our genes and also helps us fit into our jeans! (As I mentioned in my bio, James is an American Greek and I’m an American-Italian Greek home cook.) We are big advocates of eating a Mediterranean Diet, which is simple to prepare and considered to be one of the healthiest in the world.

So, I was delighted to hear the announcement of the new med-mark packaging symbol which will help shoppers quickly identify products that are part of traditional Mediterranean diet. I’m also looking forward to telling my friends who, at their request, I’ve taken to my local Trader Joe’s here in Santa Barbara, California and helped them shop for items for a Mediterranean meal.

According to http://www.mediterraneanmark.org/ the postage sized stamp mark pictured is an amphora, the pottery jug used by Mediterranean culture for over 3,000 years to ship the food to store and ship their food. The med mark will be in stores by the end of the summer 2007.

The Mediterranean Mark is being introduced by Oldways, a widely respected non-profit educational food issues organization that “develops and carries out educational programs and events to help consumers make wise choices about eating, drinking, lifestyle and their traditional pleasures of the table.”

Oldways along with colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health and The World Health Organization, also introduced The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid back in 1993 which has been consistently judged as the gold standard of healthy eating.

The Mediterranean Diet originated from a study on the Greek island of Crete which determined that Cretans and Greeks lived longer than any other population in the world. The research then extended to researching Mediterranean cuisine of Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and France. Other factors that can influence longevity include exercise, fresh air, and my favorite siestas or naps.

According to the website www.oldwayspt.org the characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet are as follows:
High consumption of olive oil (emphasis on consuming monounsaturated fat)
High consumption of fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals (such as pasta, beans, nuts and seeds).
Moderate consumption of fish and poultry.
Moderate consumption of wine (two to three times a week).
Low consumption of eggs and red meat.

The authors of the Mediterranean pyramid recommend regular physical exercise, drinking 6 glasses of water a day and moderate consumption of wine. Purple grape juice may offer the same heart health benefits of red wine without the concerns of alcohol. They also recommend that other oils rich in monounsaturated fats, such as canola or peanut oil, can be substituted for olive oil. People watching their weight should limit their oil consumption. For more on the Mediterranean diet visit http://www.oldwayspt.org/

A fabulous resource filled with wonderful essays and 100 recipes of the Oldways philosophy is a new book called The Oldways Table by K. Dun Gifford, Oldways founder and president & Oldways Exec. V.P. Sara Baer-Sinnott. The book also includes descriptions of the traditional Mediterranean, Latin American, Asian, and Vegetarian Diet and a modified Mediterranean Eatwise Pyramid.

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