Jan 072012

olive oil in waterA recent article (21 Oct 2011, p.15) in the New York Times Global Edition entitled “Full court press: First wine, now olive oil” discussed the uptick in production and sale of American-produced olive oil, vis-à-vis Mediterranean oil. For years, as the article points out, all Americans looked for on an olive oil bottle were “an olive tree, an Italian flag and some words like ‘authentic cold pressed’.” Times have changed.

The article credits several reasons for increased sale of domestic oil. One is the intensive farming systems which allow olive trees to be grown closer together and to be harvested mechanically. While opponents say this reduces the quality because of tree crowding, the proponents say there is no evidence for this; to the contrary, machine harvesting leads to a more uniformly ripe olive being pressed.

Another factor in the expansion of domestic production is a better system of regulation: new rules put into place last year were supposed to restrict the use of terms like “extra-virgin” and “cold-pressed,” previously legally meaningless in the US. The standards are voluntary, however, and so far not a single bottle has passed through the entire process. As a result growers in California have imposed their own system, and these seem to be even stricter as the international standards. In a partially industry-financed study, the California-based Olive Center found that many imported olive oils did not pass review, while 9 out of 10 of the American oils did.  ZN


For more information on the original Olive Center report and the standards debate, click here.

Grazie al professor Spencer Pack per la segnalazione.

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