Recreating the Mediterranean Diet in the Pacific Northwest
You’ve probably heard that the plant-based Mediterranean diet is good for heart, skin, and cholesterol levels.
The diet is characterized by high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It’s generally low in meat, processed foods, and dairy. It also includes moderate amounts of fish, olive oil and wine.
The problem is the healthy eating pattern is based on foods available in the olive tree-growing area of the Mediterranean. We’re here in the Pacific Northwest, but you can still make tons of meals with local ingredients.
That’s right. You can recreate the healthy Mediterranean diet and still eat local. Agriculture is a $10.6 billion industry in Washington state. It ranks 16 for food-producing states (top 3 are California, Iowa, and Nebraska).
For someone eating a 2,000 calorie diet, the USDA recommends the following servings for a Mediterranean Diet. Get further breakdown.
|Food group||Daily serving|
|Vegetables (including beans, peas, and starchy)||2.5 cups|
|Proteins (meat, seafood, nuts, seeds and soy)||6.5 ounces|
We’re known for our abundance of apples, about 11 billion in fact! If you put all the Washington apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the globe 29 times, according to the Washington Apple Commission. We also produce cherries, pears, raspberries, and grapes.
We grow green peas, carrots, asparagus, potatoes, and other vegetables. We also grow a variety of low-calorie, high-nutrition lentils and legumes.
We’re responsible for nearly 30 percent of the nation’s corn commodities. We also dedicate a lot of space to wheat to the tune of $656 million. You’ll also find homegrown oats.
Milk is a $1 billion commodity in Washington. Dairy is used in moderation in Mediterranean diets. It is full of protein, calcium, and other minerals.
Cattle is a $704 million commodity. You’ll also find eggs, fish and seafood. On the vegetarian side, Washington state produces soybeans, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
We account for nearly 80 percent of the nations hops, a key ingredient in beer. All those grapes we produce in the nutrient-rich soil in Eastern Washington make fruit-forward wines.