The Mediterranean Diet – What About Crete?

Cretan dietician Elena Paraventes gives an impassionate talk about the role of Crete in the understanding of the Mediterranean diet.

First of all I think the talk is a little polarising in that Paraventes presents a Cretacentric view of the Mediterranean diet.

But I think that’s a good thing.

There’s a strong case for saying that other countries around the Mediterranean have a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil for instance is a central feature of the Mediterranean diet and this is used in many countries around the Mediterranean. Seafood is also a central feature of countries around the Mediterranean.

What Paraventes refers to is the original study which led to the concept of the Mediterranean diet – this study took place in Crete (see video below which shows some of the landscapes of Crete).

Paraventes discusses the ‘Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013’. To be fair this doesn’t include Crete.

Paraventes talks about the trend for moving away from a traditional Cretan diet to including more processed foods. We have a lot of food choice these days and therefore it’s interesting to see that while many people around the world might strive towards a Mediterranean diet, this might even be difficult for members of the original population with the demands on people’s time that we experience today.

Paraventes has hit on an important point which is peculiar not just to the Mediterranean diet – the impact of globalisation on cultures.

We can hypothesise that cultures have developed over millenia and through trial-and-error developed effective solutions for common problems. Globalisation solves different problems – the most important one being the scale of production. This doesn’t always match with the problems being solved at a local level over longer periods of time.

I think Paraventes has an important role to play. By representing one point-of-view on the Mediterranean diet, she can foster debate and help us develop a more nuanced understand of what the Meditteranean diet was, is and will become.

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