`Mediterranean Diet Makes UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List - Olive Oil Times

Mediterranean Diet Makes UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List

By Olive Oil Times Staff
Nov. 20, 2010 10:21 UTC


The fifth ses­sion of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee, chaired by Jacob Ole Miaron (Kenya) and meet­ing in Nairobi with some 450 par­tic­i­pants, fin­ished its work on 19 November by inscrib­ing 51 new ele­ments on UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Heritage.

Meeting for the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya), the twenty-four States mem­bers of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage dis­cussed and decided to inscribe four ele­ments on the Urgent Safeguarding List and 47 ele­ments on the Representative List.

The Committee’s deci­sion is closely watched around the world by com­mu­ni­ties con­scious of the impor­tance of safe­guard­ing their her­itage. The Intangible Cultural List was started in 2003 and now com­prises some 166 entries, includ­ing Croatian Lace Making, Argentinean Tango and Tibetan Opera.

The ini­tia­tive to include the Mediterranean Diet on the list began four years ago when Italy, Spain, Greece, and Morocco put it forth. It did not meet UNESCO’s guide­lines and the ini­tia­tive was rejected. Last August the four coun­tries, with Italy coor­di­nat­ing, reworked their sub­mis­sion request.

The Mediterranean Diet

Inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Countries: Spain — Greece — Italy — Morocco

The Mediterranean diet 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. The Mediterranean diet is char­ac­ter­ized by a nutri­tional model 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 and meat, and many condi­ments and spices,
all accom­pa­nied by wine or infu­sions, always respect­ing beliefs of each com­mu­nity. However, the Mediterranean diet (from the Greek diaita,or way of life) 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 Soria in Spain, Koroni in Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco 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.

What is Intangible Heritage?

The term cul­tural her­itage’ has changed con­tent con­sid­er­ably in recent decades, par­tially owing to the instru­ments devel­oped by UNESCO. Cultural her­itage does not end at mon­u­ments and col­lec­tions of objects. It also includes tra­di­tions or liv­ing expres­sions inher­ited from our ances­tors and passed on to our descen­dants, such as oral tra­di­tions, per­form­ing arts, social prac­tices, rit­u­als, fes­tive events, knowl­edge and prac­tices con­cern­ing nature and the uni­verse or the knowl­edge and skills to pro­duce tra­di­tional crafts.

While frag­ile, intan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage is an impor­tant fac­tor in main­tain­ing cul­tural diver­sity in the face of grow­ing glob­al­iza­tion. An under­stand­ing of the intan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage of dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties helps with inter­cul­tural dia­logue, and encour­ages mutual respect for other ways of life.

The impor­tance of intan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage is not the cul­tural man­i­fes­ta­tion itself but rather the wealth of knowl­edge and skills that is trans­mit­ted through it from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. The social and eco­nomic value of this trans­mis­sion of knowl­edge is rel­e­vant for minor­ity groups and for main­stream social groups within a State, and is as impor­tant for devel­op­ing States as for devel­oped ones.

Source: UNESCO

Read More:

UNESCO: What is Intangible Heritage?

UNESCO: Convention for the Safeguarding of the intan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage (PDF)


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