20 - THE NATIONAL NETWORK OF COMMUNITIES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
- Author: PROF. DONATO LIMONE
This lesson discusses the national network of communities in Italy that represent the Mediterranean Diet, which has obtained formal recognition from UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The national network of communities is established and overseen by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies and has a fundamental role in promoting, enhancing and safeguarding the Mediterranean Diet. Each community or participant sets forth along a virtuous path to safeguard the Diet and celebrate it as a way of life.
Who then is the network comprised of? The national network of Mediterranean Diet communities is open to all who sign the Mediterranean Diet Charter of Values, and can demonstrate that they have achieved certain goals and commitments in order to duly safeguard the Mediterranean Diet. Participants are divided into four categories: local entities and institutions, (local government, museums, etc), Research institutions (universities and research centers) and civil society (associations, cultural foundations, etc).
What are the requirements that must be met and what are the commitments that participants must make in order to be a part of this network? Regarding the requirements, some are universal and can be applied to all participants, others are specific to the category to which the participant belongs. All parties must be not-for-profit, must be socially oriented and able encourage participation, and must have intent and ability to promote the Mediterranean Diet in at least one of its numerous aspects (cultural, nutritional, environmental, etc). Examples of category-specific requirements includes the protection of land by regional authorities, the providing of nutritional education or training in sustainable development by institutions, or the engaging of the elderly with the very young to encourage inter-generational exchange by social associations, etc. Specific requirements can better understood by consulting the table that accompanies this lesson.
Regarding commitments that participants are asked to make, just as with the requirements some are universal and some are category-specific. All participants must report their safeguarding measures and promotional activities to the the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, including both completed measures as well as those planned for the future. They must follow any guidelines provided by the Ministry and by UNESCO, and follow all national and international regulations. Category- specific commitments are varied, but could include the preservation of landscape or local knowledge, the organization of seminars and conferences regarding the Mediterranean Diet, of national or international scope. Commitments could also take the form of encouraging participation in agricultural activities, rituals, or activities that promote intercultural exchange. We invite readers to refer to the table provided for more specific requirements and commitments for each category of participant in the National Network of Mediterranean Diet Communities.