Push away the unhealthy diet of cyncism

By Martin Kirby

The chickens are free-ranging, scratching for grubs of comfort on the fringes of our poorly defended tomato, aubergine, courgette and pepper patch, and I am scratching my head. On the one hand, I will chat to anyone who is interested about provenance and how unparalleled freshness, goodness and glorious flavour can be found in your back garden or window box (as opposed to total dependence on a mesmerically-packaged supermarket diet through which big business feeds on the masses). But on the other, I fear Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco might be wasting their time. Not with their timeless food wisdom - good grief, no - but with the Italian led appeal to Unesco to save the Mediterranean diet by recognising it as part of the world's heritage. How I hope I am wrong. Good luck to them. I want them to make the world stop and think. Here, in the still fairly remote mountains of southern Catalonia, the wisdom is carried on the breeze from countless kitchen windows or over garden walls into the narrow streets of the hill villages. But down on the coast, in the industrial muddle choking the cities, junk is the future, ballooning as fast as the profits of the hot corporations who have so cleverly mastered cool marketing. Why I am fearful the Unesco appeal will flop is because it could so easily appear to the keenly trained, privileged media commentators (pick a country, any country) that bombard the populous with a nauseating, unrelenting diet of cyncism, as just more fodder for scoffing. A British journalist remarked that a bridge was world heritage, not a diet. Really? Heritage is what we preserve because of its unquestionable value. Food wisdom is profoundly - essentially - appropriate here and now for a global campaign of appreciation and preservation. And I'm not just talking about ingredients. The Mediterranean diet is also, equally, about time for food, time for sharing, sitting down together with family and friends of all ages and communicating. Only I despair that the Unesco move will not foster anything more than ridicule; unless, of course, enough of us stand and propose a hearty toast to what it could achieve for health, longer life and the faltering heartbeat of family.


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