WHY GREEK EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Why olives’ cultivation does, almost exclusively, take place in the Mediterranean countries?
Why olives’ cultivation does, almost exclusively, take place in the Mediterranean countries? The answer is obvious: the specific climatic and soil conditions of the Mediterranean are the basis for an olive’s development. That doesn’t suit for all areas of the Mediterranean, since only those close to the sea or within 30 kilometers from the shoreline are favorable for cultivation. Even within the Mediterranean, depending on the area where it is produced, one can find “top” or “poor quality” olive oil. Past generations were aware of it. That is how the story of olive oil began, thousands of years ago, from Orpheus to Homer, from Plato to Dioscurides. That is also the reason why olive oil is used for so many different purposes. Dioscurides stipulates that olive oil was used to treat more than 60 diseases. It is simple, where there is experience, there is knowledge. Facts regarding olive oil that the Pelasgians were aware of thousands of years ago are rediscovered today by the modern Man, through science at first, and soon through personal experience.
In Crete, in the Peloponnese and in other places in Greece, people were aware about the benefits of olive oil and always started their meal by pouring olive oil on a plate in which they dipped small bites of bread. This was the basis of the Mediterranean diet. This is also the basis of healthy living: healthy eating and exercise! A healthy mind in a healthy body!
THE BLESSING OF GREEK NATURE
Greece is blessed with thousands of islands, large and small, and thousands of kilometers of coastline. Every place has its own microclimate, soil peculiarities, and its own unique products. That is the reason why there are dozens of varieties of olives. That is also the reason why the “queen” of olive varieties is definitely the Koroneiki variety! Other nations that are aware about its uniqueness usually buy thousands of tons of Koroneiki variety and import it to their countries. Some countries are trying to get the EU to allow mixture of different olive oils, since a mix with 15-20% Koroneiko extra virgin olive oil improves with aromas and quality olive oils that are of poor quality. This is why Greece is struggling so olive oils remain pure, by excluding mixing process between different olive oils.
Nature predestined some countries to produce high quantity of olive oil and other countries to produce top quality olive oil. Does science needs to prove the obvious? Probably not.
THE OLIVE GROVES
Greece is the third largest olive oil producing country in the world, producing almost exclusively extra virgin olive oil (80-90% of total production). The olive groves are mainly in mountainous and hilly areas near the sea, benefiting of lots of sunshine. They usually belong to small farmers, who, with great attention, take care of their trees as they have learned to do it from their parents.
Greek olive groves have 10 to 30 olive trees per acre. In other countries, one can have 180-200 olive trees or more per acre. In Greece, the olive tree can reach heights up to 10 meters and 100 years of age. In other countries, there are trees that reach heights up to 2 meters and they are mainly new crops. In Greece, olives are hand harvested in baskets from each producer’s family members, grateful to Mother Nature for its unique gift. In other countries, the collecting process is made by heavy machinery, the olives are transported by trucks and crushed by large units. It has become an industry. It is worth seeing a family producing olive oil at the village mill. Greece has thousands of small mills. Each producer keeps a quantity of olive oil for the year to come needs, the rest stays at the mill for other consumers. Maybe it is written to work that way: small quantities, small producers, small olive oil extraction units and standards give the best product. Maybe it works that way because there is simultaneously a direct involvement of a person, a farmer, a producer and a consumer.
THE QUALITY GREEK OLIVE OIL
In Greece, we are used to good quality. It is a matter of history, culture and taste. Today, media inform consumers and help them decide what product they will choose. If, at this period of time, you find yourself in a region of Greece that produces olive oil, take some time to discuss with the producers while they harvest their olives. You might be pleasantly surprised with everything they have to share!
The microclimate of the Greek land, olive trees’ large varieties and the fruit’s traditional harvesting process offer to the Greek olive oil its great quality and unique organoleptic characteristics. The superior quality of Greek olive oil is not an arbitrary conclusion, since it is documented by laboratory studies.
KNOWLEDGE MEETS TRADITION
Nowadays, more and more young people return to nature and cultivate their land with knowledge and tradition. Our country starts a new beginning. Greece, for the past half decade, started to standardise its traditional products with amazing results. By capitalising on its existing experience and by working collectively, with the appropriate assistance of the competent authorities, it is a matter of time for our country to find the place it deserves in the global market.
At PELASGAEA, we are committed to walk on this path, the path of quality and consistency to the product and to our country, towards the modern society and its needs.