To examine and analyse consumption changes over time of 24 food items between Sardinia and Malta.
The data were collected in 2001 in Sardinia and 2002 in Malta.
A structured qualitative questionnaire, articulated around four main themes: food supply, transformation, preparation and consumption habits, was administered by face-to-face interviews with the help of a local person. It encompassed mainly open-ended questions, which allowed us to measure factors contributing to change.
Thirty mother–daughter pairs were interviewed in each insular territory.
Despite a common trend revealing a shift away from cereals, pulses and potatoes to the benefit of meat products, fats and sugar, our results showed contrasting evolutions in food consumption between both insular societies. Fruit and vegetables, olive oil and fish, which are part of the main features of the Mediterranean diet, were among the top foods for which consumption frequency has increased in Sardinia. In Malta, besides an increase in olive oil and vegetable consumption, cheeses and desserts showed the highest increase. Along with modernity and improved living conditions, enhanced commercial availability and increased diversity of food preparation were also identified as factors contributing to food consumption changes.
Although the Sardo-Mediterranean model is evolving under the impact of modernisation, it is not disappearing. In Malta, however, modernity has led to a more sudden shift from a state of food shortage to one of affluence, but in a cultural context where the identity is no longer Mediterranean but Anglo-Saxon.