What makes the best olive oil and how can we recognize it when we taste it?
This is the question that inspired me to embark on this search for the best Greek olive oil. I will be writing a great deal on the subject of olive oil in the following months. The olive tree has a rich history and the health benefits derived from the consumption of its fruit have been well documented over the last 2,500 years. Nevertheless, a great deal of confusion and misinformation about what exactly is the best olive oil remains. Consumers, producers and distributors often contradict each other even on the basic facts.
This journey has taken on a life of its own and is leading me into places that I have never been. I believe this journey has become much more than a simple business venture.
I have also embarked on a project to gather all the scientific studies confirming the health benefits of the ingredients used in Ancient Greek cuisine. I will be publishing all the info I gather into a cookbook, exercise, practical philosophy and lifestyle of the Hellenic period in today’s context. http://hellenic-certified.com/
I believe the search for the best Greek olive oil is also a search for the Hellenic soul. No other culture is so intimately identified with the olive tree as the ancient Hellenic civilization and culture. From the olive branch used as a triumphant crown worn by the victorious Olympic athletes, all the way to the Hippocratic diet and medicinal applications; the olive tree is found at the center of ancient and modern Hellenic society.
At first, I discovered the plight of the Greek independent olive grove farmers who are forced to sell their crop immediately following the harvest in order to pay for the high cost of production.
Although Greek olive oil production consists of 80% extra virgin olive oil and is by far the best quality with acidity levels between .05 and .3% it is mostly exported in bulk for the lowest prices – between 1.60 and 2.50 euros per kilo. The reason for the low prices is mainly due to the lack of government support and effective marketing.
The extra virgin olive oil is sold mostly to the Italian and Spanish companies who then market it under their own recognized brand names. Most olive groves in Greece are small and family owned. The video was shot at the Stamatis Alamaniotis olive grove in Pteleos
The olive trees cling to the sides of mountains and are very labor intensive. Greek olive oil exporters, the co-ops and the government have failed to properly finance and market Greek olive oil by building marketing and distribution networks as the Spanish and Italians have done.
I began to read scientific journals online for evidence to support the health benefit claims made about extra virgin olive oil. My primary interest was to include it in a marketing strategy for promoting Greek extra virgin olive oil. The negative press made it even more imperative to find fast and reliable testing methods that could be used to verify not only the purity but also the many health benefits derived from Greek extra virgin olive oil.
“Many restaurant and foodservice “extra virgin” olive oils are so bad, a taste panel found them unfit for human consumption, according to a new report from the UC Davis Olive Center.”
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