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Masterchefs / Mediterranean people

The article “Senior ‘masterchefs’ stick to tradition,” 28 June, THE AGE, is another example of celebrity culture missing the wider picture, resulting in unsound practices.

Children have already been introduced to this culture of highly refined and processed food and now the elderly people have joined in from a $35,000 state government grant.

As part of the program, Jim, the Greek cook, has demonstrated the making of moussaka – referred to as a classic Greek dish. It was also stated that Jim was raised on moussaka in the 1940s.

Along with this, two young dieticians, Deakin University graduates, tried to explain that margarine in moderation has less “bad fats” than butter.

A few years ago Deakin University was a major centre for the study and promotion of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Elderly Greek people, as with their ancestors, were the master creators and practitioners of this diet.

As moussaka includes meat it is highly questionable that it was eaten often, especially at that time – due to the German occupation and the equally devastating misery from the civil war that followed.

A better program would have been to help Mediterranean people restore many of their earlier everyday dietary practices for health, environmental and financial benefits. An even better alternative to butter is olive oil – the predominant fat of the area.

Mark Dymiotis

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The traditional Mediterranean Diet

The traditional Mediterranean diet (i.e. the diet of this region before the 1960’s) is promoted as healthy and protective against disease. The Greek diet is regarded as the prototype Mediterranean diet. Traditionally, due to their dietary and lifestyle practices, the Greeks have very good health and life expectancy – without an expensive health care system. In Greece, the people of the island of Crete have a better health record and perhaps not surprisingly, the highest consumption of olive oil (25 litres per capita) in the world.

The Greek traditional diet is based largely on fresh, unprocessed seasonal plant foods. It is low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre, starch, antioxidant vitamins (from cereals, fruit and vegetables) and polyphenols (from wine and olive oil).