ONE OF THE BASIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CRETAN DIET AND THE DIETS OF OTHER MEDITERRANEAN AREAS IS THE HUGE CONSUMPTION OF FRUIT!
In greek mythology citrus fruits was the gift that Gea, the earth, offered at the wedding of the father of the Gods, Zeus, and Hera. The Cretan east six times more fruit thant the average inhabitant of the Mediterranean and and six times more than the inhabitant of a northern country (e.g. Netherlands), as proved by studies of Α. Keys (1970) and D. Kromhout (1989). The European travellers that arrived in Crete in the 19th century praised the oranges of the island. This divine gift, that was kept, according to Greek mythology, in the Gardens of the Esperides, away from the humans, is grown in an extensive area in the plain of Chania. There are smaller cultivations in the plain of Mesara, in Fodele of Heraklion and in Mylopotaros.
It was the main winter fruit, the fruit that existed in every Cretan home. Doctors recommend the same recipe today: The orange must always be present on our table, natural orange juice must always be present in our life, fruit must not play a secondary role in our nutrition: They are rich sources of Vitamin C (especially oranges), rich sources of Vitamin Β12 (necessary for the production of blood), and other vitamins that have antioxidant action, that is, anti-cancer and heart-disease preventing, (A, C και E). In Crete the cultivation of fruit is traditional.
The trees are completely adapted to the environment of the island and produce tasty products, without chemical additives. The factories for the processing of the fruit (juices, orange and citrus products etc) are modern and show respect to the material. The main summer fruit of Crete, grapes, are considered to be ideal for a balance diet. The substances contained in the skin of the grapes are antioxidant (anti-cancer) this tasty fruit offers a large number of trace elements for the good function of the organism. The grapes of Crete is different from the grapes of other areas, even Mediterranean areas, because of its distinctive aroma and taste. In recent years extensive plantations of special traditional varieties without seeds have been developed and can be consumed also by children.
Citrus fruits are an essential part of the agricultural production of Crete. Particularly in the western part of the island where the climate conditions and the abundant water from the White Mountains favour the growing of oranges, mandarins, lemons etc. From Fourne and Skine until almost the beaches of Platanias and Tavronitis there are orange groves. The blossom of the trees generously spreads scents in spring and the vivid colours of the fruits in winter determine the Cretan landscape. The return to mild forms of farming is developing, while the demand for organic certified Cretan citrus fruits is constantly increasing.