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Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Jun;61(6 Suppl):1383S-1389S.

Mediterranean diets: are they environmentally responsible?

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  • Program in Nutrition, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Dietary recommendations made to promote health seldom, if ever, take account of environmental implications of producing recommended foods. This paper considers several aspects of the traditional Mediterranean diet in relation to global sustainability. Plant-centered diets, such as those consumed around the Mediterranean Sea during the 1950s and 1960s, would be environmentally beneficial because they imply need for a much smaller population of domestic animals and, consequently, lowered demand on soil, water, and energy resources. Although fish consumption is high in some Mediterranean diets, fish should not be used to replace animal flesh because all of the world's major fisheries are currently overexploited. As for the appropriateness of Mediterranean fresh fruit and vegetables (which would need to be imported into non-Mediterranean regions), locally producible substitutes should be used wherever possible to reduce the environmental costs of transporting food great distances. Research is needed to examine the environmental consequences of certain exports such as olive oil.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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