Events and Conferences

The Mediterranean Diet: Fact & Fiction

Join us for a week in Florence at the spectacular La Pietra. Experts from various fields will explore and examine the myth of the Mediterranean Diet and its impact on Italian history, politics, economics, culture, health, and cuisine.

During the early 1950s, when epidemiologists were beginning to worry about the elevated incidence of heart disease in America, venerable nutritionist Ancel Keys undertook the landmark Seven Countries Study to compare the diets of Mediterranean countries and their incidence of heart disease. From the results of this study grew the concept we now refer to as the Mediterranean Diet. High in fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, olive oil, and red wine, and low in animal protein, saturated fat, and refined sugars, the Mediterranean diet became more than just a diet; to those living outside the Mediterranean, it became an idyllic lifestyle.

tuscan dietMay 21 to 26, 2006, New York University and the James Beard Foundation are co-hosting a joint international conference on the Mediterranean diet. The program, conducted in English, will assemble Italian and American experts on nutrition, food culture, eating and lifestyle behaviors, public health, government regulation, wine and other beverages, and artisanal and commercial food production to discuss the concept of the Mediterranean diet using Italy as a case study. Topics addressed will include: How has the Mediterranean diet been (mis)understood? What changes have gone on in Italian food culture since the initial studies were conducted? What are the differences in taste and healthfulness between commercially and artisanally produced foods? Among the program highlights will be samplings of Florentine farm produce and street foods, tastings of artisanal cheeses, salume, and chocolate, and informal conversations over a glass of wine with one of the original collaborators on Keys' study and Frances Mayes, author of the best-selling Under the Tuscan Sun.

Held at NYU's spectacular 57-acre Villa la Pietra, the former estate of Lord Harold Acton, the conference will afford participants' food enthusiasts, academics, nutritionists, and others--an immersion in Italian food culture like no other. Tours of the villa's gardens and the Acton art collection, as well as optional field trips to wineries, food producers, cooking school, and other points of interest the Tuscan countryside and surrounding area will also be available.

Opening Reception: Sunday, May 21

Conference Sessions: Monday, May 22 – Wednesday, May 24

Optional Field Trips
: Thursday, May 25 – Friday, May 26

: Villa Sassetti Conference Center at New York University’s La Pietra, Florence, Italy

Early Registration Fee: $525 (USD) before March 10, 2006
Regular Registration Fee: $600 (USD) after March 10, 2006
(Accommodations, dinners, and field trips are not included in the registration fee)

For Residents of Italy only:
Registration Fee Per Day
: $200 (USD). Plus fees for optional field trips, if applicable.

Office of Special Programs, 212-992-9380