Luis Serra: “The indigenous diet of the ancient Canaries was beheaded after the colonization process”


The professor and rector of the ULPGC, Luis Serra.

The professor and rector of the ULPGC, Luis Serra.

The rector of the ULPGC and professor of Public Health, Luis SerraIn the first presentation offered at the VIII Campus of Ethnography and Folklore of Ingenio, he referred to the values ​​of the traditional Canarian diet as a sustainable element in the health codes and as an identity value. Serra, who chaired the Mediterranean Diet Foundation until 2012, with which he achieved recognition in 2010 at the convention of the UNESCO celebrated in Kenya the status of Intangible Heritage of Humanity, notes that “The Atlantic diet can be a variant of the Mediterranean diet, insofar as it also constitutes a cultural model that implies the way in which different types of food are selected, produced, processed, distributed and consumed from the same environment”.

For Serra, “the predominant food culture is reflected in the landscape, which cannot turn its back on our eating habits. The feeding of the towns elevates their historical personality to the idea of ​​concept, relating landscape, architecture and culture. In the Canary Islands there are some differences with respect to the Mediterranean diet. One of them is that the ancestral culture that had deeply ingrained habits in the indigenous population was beheaded by the colonization process. There was no adequate transition between the aboriginal and the colonizing dietary model ”, explains Serra.

The incessant flow of miscegenation and cultures has been happening in the Canary Islands and this, throughout history, has conditioned our way of eating. “There is no doubt that globalization has triggered alerts about the dangers that may threaten the Atlantic diet. From the abandonment of the countryside to tourism, which represents an eroding element of our cultural habits as a people ”he laments. “We want to consume products from anywhere on the planet and that carries a significant environmental footprint. It is not the same to bring a Brazilian mango out of season than to do it in its time from Mogán.

“The marine species must be our fish, not the unworthy panga, which is imported frozen from Vietnam and sold on the shelves of our supermarkets at three euros per kilo. We continue to consume a lot of Dutch cheese, when we have the best goat and sheep cheeses in the world, and we continue to buy California or Chilean nuts when ours, with one polyphenols that give it a characteristic and unique flavor, rot in the ground. from the fields of the Canary Islands ”, he laments.

Plutarco said that we did not sit at the table to eat, but to eat together. “The social dimension of food in the Canary Islands continues to be a reality. To wine, legumes, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts … we must add an essential seasoning and a basic ingredient that is produced in the islands, which is sociability, which gives the community a feeling of identity ”Adds the rector. “I am a canary because as a canary. The day you start eating fast-food I’ll stop being a little canary, ”he said.

According to Luis Serra “the model of the Atlantic diet, despite maintaining its base on the Mediterranean tradition, lacks some elements. Its contribution of dairy products from goat and sheep is important, but not so much from cow. It is difficult to see cattle grazing in our fields. There is also a low consumption of vegetables and olive oil, although their use has been recovering in recent decades. We have historically used refinery sunflower oil more. Forty years ago there were around forty refineries on the islands, of which only one survives ”, he recalls.

“Children who follow the Mediterranean diet are happier and, nevertheless, fast food multinationals continue to paradoxically refer to the children’s menu happy meal.

The Nutrition Research Group of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), led by Professor Lluís Serra, carried out the Predimed Plus Study in the Canary Islands, in which 7,500 volunteers who followed two diets participated for five years different, one of them Mediterranean and the other low in fat. In the group that followed the Mediterranean, mortality related to heart attack and cardiovascular diseases was 30 percent less than in the group assigned to the prudent low-fat diet. “With the Mediterranean diet, one hundred thousand heart attacks, 200 thousand diabetes, 75 thousand arteriopathies and 87 thousand arrhythmias could be expected in Spain in less than five years,” concludes the professor of Public Health.

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