What Foods Did the Ancient Greeks Eat?

Bread, vegetables and fruit were the mainstays of a typical ancient Greek diet. Much like in the Mediterranean diet of modern times, fish was the most commonly consumed protein.

Agriculture was central to the ancient Greek diet and way of life. Farmers grew spelt, emmer and barley, and the most common kind of bread was made from barley. In fact, Romans sometimes referred to the Greeks as "barley eaters."

Because Greece did not have a landscape suitable for raising cattle, meat was also uncommon, except for occasional wild game. Additionally, dairy was not typically consumed. In cities, milk and butter were considered barbaric. Fish, on the other hand, was plentiful as anchovies, catfish and sprats were cheap, and eel, tuna and sea bass were foods consumed by the richer classes.

The produce commonly consumed by the ancient Greeks was native to the Mediterranean region. It included apples, pears, grapes, figs, peas, cabbage, beans, squash, cucumbers, onions, asparagus, radishes and artichokes.

Water was the most common beverage for the ancient Greeks. Wine was available, but not a part of a typical meal. It was consumed separately, and often diluted with water. Drinking wine that wasn't cut with water was seen as barbaric, and thought to be the cause of mental illness. Additionally, ancient Greek women were not allowed to drink wine.