International Issue- The Division of Class in Regards to the Mediterranean DietOn January 11, 2020 by Carley Grace
The Mediterranean diet has often been referred to as the peasants’ diet. This is because it usually consisted of food items that could traditionally have been grown in a home garden. The Mediterranean diet contains very little meat. This is because peasants usually did not have access to meat which was a rich man’s delicacy. Livestock are difficult and often expensive to maintain and generally the food used to nourish livestock would be better-utilized feeding people. Today, the Mediterranean diet is defined by the elimination of processed foods from the lifestyle. It is peasants’ fare in the sense it references a simpler time before chips and soda and convenience foods. Those who practice the diet today may not come from simple means, but rather they emulate the lifestyle of a simpler era.
Today, the Mediterranean diet is generally practiced by middle to upper class people with at least some secondary education. Since most people do not have the time, space, or climate to maintain and upkeep a home garden, produce is generally bought from grocery stores. Unfortunately, produce tends to spoil quickly and simply not realistic to expect most people to go the store daily or every other day. Another reason the lower class has less access to the Mediterranean diet is because they do not get the same education when it comes to nutrition. There is no one explaining that just because that package of cookies says low-fat, doesn’t mean they’re actually good for you. There is no way for them to figure out that the “Heart Healthy” label on the package won’t actually reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean diet simply isn’t the poor man’s diet anymore. It is the diet of the rich and the educated.
The broad term “diet” or “diaita” refers to not only the nutritional aspect of eating, but the social aspect as well. When you eat, where you eat, how much you eat, who you eat with, and how long it takes you to eat are all factors in the broader sense of the word “diet”. There are some cultures in the world that really do value the time spent eating. For example, the French take a two-hour break in the middle of the day for lunch, and they’re considered western country. In less developed and developing countries, there is less of a demand for meat and more of a reliance on the local produce along with the assistance of packaged food.
As a college student, it is possible to adhere to the Mediterranean diet, but it is difficult and highly stressful. Since the demographic of college students is largely white and middle to upper class, we will just assume for the time being that financial assistance is available through scholarships, parents, or part-time jobs (obviously, this is not true in many cases). There is still a lack of something even more valuable than money: time. As college students, there is a delicate balance between classes, homework, activities, work, hobbies, sleep, and general life experiences. Oftentimes this leaves very little room for cooking and eating and as a result it would be very difficult to balance the quick-paced structure of college life with the more meditative and thoughtful aspect of the Mediterranean diet.