The Italian Almanac

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garlic

The Fountain of Youth

Garlic is the true fountain of youth and key to a long life, according to the Italian farmers' union Coldiretti. "It is not by chance that Italians consume large amounts of garlic and are among those who live the longest in Europe," Coldiretti observed. Garlic, the union recalled, "is a key element in the Mediterranean diet and plays a major role in Italian cuisine". "The consumption of garlic, bread, pasta, fruit, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, along with a glass of wine with meals, guarantees Italians an average lifespan of 77.2 years for men and 82.8 years for women, far above the European average," Coldiretti added. Italians consume some 50 million kilos of garlic a year.

According to Coldiretti, Italy's wide variety of types of garlic need to be protected and consumers should know the origin and freshness of the garlic they buy. Garlic is best when fresh, the union observed, which makes domestic garlic preferable to garlic imported from China, Egypt and Turkey. Almost half the garlic sold in Italy is imported.