When I was on the Island of Crete a few years back it was striking to see people of all ages who were thin, active and looked many years younger than they actually were. The other feature that stood out were the overweight children. It certainly wasn’t as bad as what we see in America, but it was noticeable. The children of Crete have gone from some of the healthiest children in the world to the most overweight kids in Europe in a relatively short period of time. It is easy to see why as the Island goes from tiny village based communities to a more touristy city based culture. This seems to be happening in many of the Mediterranean countries as documented in “The Endangered Mediterranean Diet” written as a blog post for the New York Times.
It wasn’t that long ago that people in Crete grew or foraged all of their own food with very little machinery and certainly rarely a vehicle. Animals were eaten only occasionally and they were raised by the family who would one day be eating it.
Now, the roads are full of cars and the “conveniences” of modern culture. Fast food restaurants are beginning to appear throughout the island and taking over the small tavernas that served traditional appetizers (mezze’s) where the customers would sit and eat and drink for hours suggesting a slower, more stress free environment that was almost certainly better for digestion and the waistline.
Exercising in a gym was completely unnecessary as people got their daily exercise picking olives, making wine and walking into the woods to forage for horta, the greens of Crete which have been shown to be packed with omega-3 fatty acids. They would stay healthy by getting the foods which would also make them healthy.
To want to return to times like this is a natural desire, but there is also something to be said about modern conveniences. It seems that a mix of the old and the new could be a natural fit. There is a way to eat well, get exercise that matters and live a full, vibrant, and meaningful life. This is the adventure.