Q. Why is good quality olive expensive to buy?
A. Our certified organic extra virgin olive oil comes from our single estate farm. We produce high quality olive oil in small batches. Every harvest, we pick our olives by hand. We don't spray our trees or add any preservatives or additives to our olive oil. Taking care of the land and our trees requires man power. Organic farming is more costly than conventional farming. Pruning, fertilizing the land, harvesting by hand are time consuming and expensive. Annual fees must be paid to certification organizations and to the mill for pressing the olive oil. All these measures add to the cost of a good quality certified organic extra virgin olive oil.
Q. What is the future of the single estate olive grove farmer?
A. I would say the outcome is somewhat discouraging, especially when governments are trying to avoid supporting organic farming. In the 1950s and 1960s Southern European farmers abandoned their farms and went abroad. Years later, this same generation came back to work on a dream. With some government subsidies things were looking up for the farmers, but what will happen when this funding disappears? For the younger generation, farm work isn't all it's cut out to be. Immigrants from Eastern Europe have filled the need for working crews. Large sophisticated olive mills will replace existing mills. Large corporations will take over the production of olive oil, as we know it today. Single estates will contract out their farms to these businesses for a fee, and will specialize in all phases of olive oil production for their new client. This may reduce olive oil prices, but not all is lost. Consumers are hungry for small collectives focused on producing high quality, local, unadulterated food. Those invested in growing food that is not chemically processed, or sprayed are well supported, and rightfully so. A good ethical farmer equals good food.
Q. How can the quality of extra virgin olive oil be protected?
A. There is only one answer to this: support single estate producers, especially those with a deep rooted conscience and integrity in producing real extra virgin olive oil. When we compromise on quality, we allow producers to flood the market with inferior olive oils. As consumers, we need to understand our food language: what is extra virgin, what is cold-pressed, what is certified organic. Often products claim to be natural or include some rare berry extract but what does this all mean? Food markets are saturated with the next best thing. We need to be more savvy consumers. We continue to bring our award-winning and great tasting extra virgin olive oil to North America. We look to our customers and food lovers to vouch for good food, may it be olive oil or beyond.
Q. Do you think that the price and quality go hand in hand?
A. A high price doesn't necessarily determine a good quality olive oil. There are many factors at play. But like a nice coat, or great pair of shoes, quality doesn't go cheap. Our olive oil is made with care. We tend to our trees, olives and work crews with great passion. And this is apparent in each one of our bottles of olive oil. Try it out for yourself!