The Mediterranean Diet has often been promoted as one of the most healthy diets in the world. It has found broad appeal in part because of its rich, fresh flavors, and focus on ‘traditional,’ often romanticized foods. In this course we will examine the general role of food choices in promoting health, the history of the Mediterranean Diet, and how it rose to prominence as an example of a healthy dietary pattern even in non-Mediterranean cultures. We will examine the science behind these health-promoting beliefs, and the current realities of the diet as it plays out in Italy, particularly in Perugia, and more broadly in Umbria.
Aside from course content, students will have the opportunity to visit farmers markets, food growers, and food producers to more effectively understand the consumption patterns and importance of these foods in present-day central Italy.
There will be a strong emphasis on the reflection of out-of-class and hands-on experiences. The course will include opportunities to interact with producers and market vendors, participate in tastings of typical Mediterranean-diet products like olive oil, ancient grains, wine, and other foods. These experiences are aimed at better understanding the role that food plays in contemporary Italian society, and how this role meshes with the key aspects of the Mediterranean Diet.
- Describe the key features of a healthful diet, per USDA guidelines
- Identify the primary health-supporting nutrients (and their roles).
- Describe the key dietary and behavioral features of the Mediterranean Diet, as described in the literature.
- Conduct a structured, detailed observations of key contextual features that influence diet in a Mediterranean setting, and describe these findings in a pithy manner
- Understand and apply the current research regarding the healthfulness of the Mediterranean Diet.
- Demonstrate, through in-class tasks and field experiences, their critical perspective on how food production and consumption in Italy matches with the key tenets of the Mediterranean Diet.
- Critique the application of the Mediterranean Diet in a contemporary, American context.
- Reflect, in an informed manner, on their experiences living in a Mediterranean Culture, and the impact on their food behaviors and values.
Mandatory course reader