Promoting the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is considered a model for a healthy, sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle that is conducive to local producers. Yet, the Mediterranean region is currently undergoing changes affecting its traditional diet. International trade exchanges and changes in lifestyle are disrupting the eating habits of the region. Under-nutrition and malnutrition are still present in the South and East of the Mediterranean while all Mediterranean countries are increasingly faced with the issue of obesity and with diseases that are related to poor diet. A “return” to the Mediterranean diet should therefore be encouraged.
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Enhancing Agro-biodiversity conservation and Agro-Ecology practices
Agrobiodiversity is defined as ‘the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture, including crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries. It comprises the diversity of genetic resources (varieties, breeds) and species used for food, fodder, fibre, fuel and pharmaceuticals. It also includes the diversity of non-harvested species that support production (soil micro-organisms, predators, pollinators), and those in the wider environment that support agro-ecosystems (agricultural, pastoral, forest and aquatic) as well as the diversity of the agro-ecosystems’. Agroecology is a way of developing agricultural systems based on the benefits provided by ecosystems. The aim is to increase or maintain agricultural production while reducing pressure on the environment and natural resources.
Improving Food Safety and Quality
Food security is not only quantitative. The qualitative dimension is equally significant. Food safety is a major component of the chain that links producers to consumers. Throughout this chain, products can be exposed to multiple risks as for contaminants (pesticides residues, microorganisms and mycotoxins) that could affect the quality in terms of nutritional, healthy and safe aspects. It is therefore essential to develop best practices in the production, handling, processing and distribution of food products meeting product traceability, too. In this context, logistical and commercial issues are also crucial and may play an important role in reducing food losses and extending the shelf life of products, thus supporting market development dynamics. Prevention is the best way to reduce contaminants ensuring food safety and quality. To this aim, an adequate legislation and efficient tools for contaminants detection should be developed and adopted at Mediterranean scale.
Access to Food
The concept of physical and economic access to food is an important pillar of food security. To ensure Mediterranean population’s access to food is necessary to act simultaneously on production and consumption phases of the food chain. The ability to produce, to have the means to produce or to buy food for a nutritious diet, and thus have the necessary purchasing power, affects food security. This access must be stable, sustainable and continuous, including in adverse circumstance (conflicts, disasters, etc.). Access to food regards also farmers' access to inputs (land, water, seeds), markets as well as available services (e.g. credit) to facilitate the use of technologies. Water is the most important food product. Water is the lifeblood of ecosystems, on which depend the food security and nutrition of present and future generations and supports the economic growth, and income generation, the basics for economic access to food, food production (fisheries, crops and livestock), food processing, transformation and preparation.