Sardinians' grow and eat food in line with the ideas of the slow food movement and the much Mediterranean diet, earning the locals a bunch of attention. Why?
Sardinians', particularly men are among the longest living people on Earth, experiencing extraordinary longevity and a high number of centenarians.
As we learn when studying nutrition; genetics and environment surely play a part, however the diet of the locals is more than worth a look in. But first! What is the slow food movement all about? Slow Food is a global organization that aims to preserve the local traditions and culture people around the world have with food. It promotes a slower pace of life in response to the rise of ‘fast everything’ we experience today, and also encourages people to take an active interest in nutrition the food they eat, where it has come from, and what the global affect is of our food choices.
Sardinia is a perfect example to see evidence of a culture that has worked with slow food practices for centuries, and continues to do so today.
Sardinia comes up trumps in regards to the average life expectancy due to the high intake of traditional breads, virgin olive oil, nuts, vegetables and fruit, legumes and complex carbohydrates, and fish. The dietary diversity and healthful compound rich diet of the Mediterranean Diet has extensive evidence that it significantly reduces mortality rates (from all causes including stroke and cognitive impairment).
Turning up to Cala Gonone after an overnight ferry, two buses and an ‘un-nutritional’ amount of coffee the incredible food culture and healthy eating habits are evident immediately, with fresh catches of seafood being unloaded at the wharf. I arrived at the guesthouse I’d booked to be greeted by Bruno, an Italian man in his 70s who runs the place with his wife and son. He hands me a glass of homemade lemonade and picks an orange from the tree behind me.
“Welcome!” he says,
and I’m told to help myself to anything in the garden;
sage, basil, tomatoes, parsley, chives, and the biggest rosemary bush I’ve ever seen.
A further stroll to check out the town reveals an incredible coastline, and more of what I’d read about. Menu boards boast the “zero-kilometer mussels and oysters” they have available today, and an appetizer of ricotta, honey and walnut crostini, all made within 10Km of the restaurant. The rugged, mountainous landscape of Sardinia has meant that families have always eaten locally and often from their own land as large scale farming hasn’t been possible.
It’s then a trip to the grocery store, which cements the magic of Sardinia. Olive oil, bread, cows and goats milk, ricotta and gorgonzola; all local. Varieties of fresh pasta, all delivered this morning, as well as a bucket of fresh mozzarella. A lady carves slices of smoked prosciutto straight from the leg for a customer. Need I say it again? It's all from the Island, often within an hour or so drive. Bliss.
After a week on Sardinia I was sold.
They clearly know what it's about, with awesome health and always enough time for a meal with family or a drink with friends.
A few pointers to take home methinks!
Words by traveling nutritionist Iydi Willis
Iydi is an Associate Nutritionist at Cadence Health, currently on hiatus while she discovers more about food and health around the globe.
If you love this why not consider a course in Super Foods and Super Nutrition and learn more about how foods protect and nourish us from the pace of life most of us have unwittingly adopted. Or take our short course on Food Groups and Dietary Diversity (7 CECS for PTs).
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