As children, olive oil was perhaps something we associated primarily with the cartoon character Popeye. But today, olive oil has become a staple ingredient in most of our kitchens. Much more healthful than most other oils, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which has led to its increasing popularity in American diets.
But as a consumer, you may be overwhelmed when faced with the growing spectrum of types, brands, grades, and prices. Is there really much difference? Are the highest priced oils always the best? How do you choose the “right” kind?
Though all olive oil comes from the pressing and crushing of olives, the processes used determine the type of olive oil extracted.
99% of olive production in the USA is in California; the USA represents less than 1% of the world’s production of olive oil.
Four main varieties are grown in California--Mission, Manzanillo, Sevillano, and Ascolano.
Italy is the largest importer and exporter of olive oil; however, Spain is the largest producer, accounting for 45% of the world’s production.
Olive trees have been grown for three thousand to six thousand years in the Mediterranean.
The olive tree can withstand the bleakest conditions--long hot summers, intense sun, mild winters with little water growing in the poorest soils.
They require little maintenance, irrigation or fertilization.
Good on food, good on your skin! Olive oil can heal inflamed skin and moisturizes without clogging pores.
Olive oil symbolizes longevity, fertility, maturity and peace in various cultures.