Olive oil consumption linked to a way of life: the Mediterranean lifestyle

The Mediterranean diet, which in 2013 was declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, comprises a set of traditions, customs and symbols relating to crops, harvesting, fishing and animal husbandry, as well as to the ways of conserving, transforming, cooking, sharing and consuming the food produced. The act of eating together is one of the most essential elements of the enduring cultural identity of the communities of the Mediterranean basin. (Source: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/la-dieta-mediterranea-00884)

Did you know that Spain consumes more than 500 million litres of olive oil a year? That’s an impressive total, isn’t it? But it’s worth noting that, contrary to what you might think, levels of olive oil consumption vary across Spain: homes in Aragon, the Valencian region, Catalonia, Murcia and Cantabria are where we find the most olive oil. And we look at olive oil as more than just food, but rather as encompassing an entire way of life: the Mediterranean lifestyle. Our culture and our food simply wouldn’t be the same without olive oil. Something central would be missing, the food that sets us apart, the root that binds us to our land. Does anyone here ever go as much as a day without eating olive oil?

In recent years, there have been numerous studies evaluating the importance of the Mediterranean lifestyle, which is closely linked to one of the healthiest and comprehensive eating regimes. The first references to this lifestyle date back to 1948 and can be found in a book by Leland G. Allbaugh on the way of life of the inhabitants of the island of Crete. Besides this “first contact" with the Mediterranean lifestyle, the most notable mid-twentieth century reference is found in the "Seven Countries Study", which examines the eating habits of seven countries: the United States, Japan, Finland, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece. The results of that study left no room for doubt about the demonstrable health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.

Here in 2017, those initial reports seem a long way back. But we haven’t moved on from the central role of olive oil in our diet, which enjoys ever greater importance. A good oil, whether for dressing or for cooking our food, helps maintain a good balance between different fats, as well as providing a real treat. So, enjoy this oil alongside those you’d always choose to share a table with, and feel more Mediterranean than ever by going back to your roots.