The Cretan diet, which has gained widespread acclaim in recent years, is regarded as having arisen as a natural consequence of the Cretans' particular way of life. It is dictated by both the landscape and the mild climate as well as by the diversity of social and historical circumstances influencing the island's inhabitants.

Though part of the wider Mediterranean diet, the Cretan version differs in several ways, all of which contribute to a documented increase in life expectancy compared to peoples elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

Staple foods on Crete, just as elsewhere in the Mediterranean, are olive oil, bread and other local produce. Yet the Cretan diet is superior, involving greater consumption of fruit, pulses and vegetables but very little meat.

Vegetables have always formed an important part of the Cretan diet
Barley rusks and various types of bread, all of which contain olive oil
Varieties of Cretan grapes
Orange harvesting, 1926 (Nelly's, Benaki Museum, Athens)
In early 20th century Heraklion, market streets were paved and Cretan produce was in abundance (R. Behaeddin, No 23, Vikelaia Municipal Library, Heraklion)
Pulses, yet another important part of the Cretan diet, 2004 (photograph: Vassilis Kozonakis)