BOSTON — Oldways, a nonprofit nutrition and food issues advocacy group based here, recently marked the 15-year anniversary of its Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
The Oldways Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is intended to act as a model for traditional healthy eating, recommending daily servings of fruits, vegetables, grains and potatoes. It also includes extra virgin olive oil, rather than highly saturated animal fats. In addition, the pyramid suggests moderate wine consumption and regular exercise, and recommends that red meat, sweets, eggs, poultry and fish be eaten less frequently. The nonprofit has also created similar models based on Asian, Latin American and vegetarian food and drink traditions.
“It comes down to translating the science into something that's useful for the consumer when they shop at a supermarket, or go to a restaurant,” said K. Dun Gifford, founder and president of Oldways.
“It works both ways, and we try to educate the supermarkets and the restaurant people on a parallel track as we do with the consumers.”
Gifford added that the enthusiasm that supermarket retailers have demonstrated in their efforts to help consumers find healthy choices was surprising to Oldways and the scientists it works with.
“It's a nice feedback loop,” Gifford said. “It really is terrific working with the retailers. We thought we were going to have to fight our way into these stores with these ideas and marks and programs, but not at all — they're welcomed.”
Most recently Oldways developed the Med Mark, a packaging symbol that helps consumers easily identify “Med Diet” foods in the grocery store. Since this program's launch in 2007, the Med Mark symbol has been added to more than 100 food products, including pasta and pasta sauce, hummus, olives, extra virgin olive oils, dipping oils, pita chips, soups and avocados.
To celebrate the anniversary, Oldways will host a special conference in Boston on Nov. 13-15.