Our new organic olive oil from Spain offers superior flavor, purity, and nutrition
by Randy Hartnell and Craig Weatherby
We’re very pleased to announce the arrival of our new, certified-Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain!
As new findings summarized elsewhere in this issue demonstrate, olive oil is even more healthful than science suspected, and extra virgin grade is the best by far, thanks to its potent polyphenol antioxidants. These important compounds get scrubbed from the heavily refined “pure” grade olive oils that dominate the mass market.
Our delicious new oil is pressed from choice Spanish picual olives, which boast a fruity flavor, with hints of almond and an aroma of apple (The name picual derives from the pointed tip, or “pico” of this variety). The oil is pressed from the olives within hours of harvest, without heat or chemicals, to ensure optimal flavor and nutritional value.
The olives are grown in a family farm’s ancient groves, arrayed on the sun-drenched hills of Andalusia.
The farmers hand-tend the heirloom trees with care, fertilize them with organic compost, and employ natural pest-control techniques.
These painstaking practices honor the region’s agrarian heritage and meet the strict stewardship standards set by Spain and the European Union.
Picual olive oils are also exceptional from a nutritional standpoint, due to their excellent fatty acid profile—high in monounsaturated oleic acid (about 80 percent) and low in omega-6 (only about four percent)—and their abundant natural antioxidants.
The monounsaturated oleic acid in our oil helps improve cholesterol profiles, while its potent tyrosol and olecanthal antioxidants suppress the oxidative stresses that promote cancer and heart disease.
To learn more about the newly discovered heath benefits of our new Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, see "Extra Virgin Olive Oil Seen Superior…" in this issue of Vital Choices, which encompasses reports on four significant new developments.
Spanish olive oil lore
As in all Mediterranean countries, olive oil is a pillar of Spanish cuisine. Many people start the day with olive oil drizzled on toast. At lunch and dinner, olive oil will grace your salad and gazpacho or stew, and it is of course used to sauté or fry almost everything. Many Spanish pastries and desserts even use olive oil as an ingredient.
The olive tree arrived in Spain with the Phoenicians at around 1050 B.C. and Spain soon exported large amounts of olive oil to other parts of the Mediterranean. And “large amounts” is no exaggeration. A 100-foot high hill in Italy with a perimeter of about 1 mile—“Mount” Testaccio, near the port of Ostia—consists of fragments of amphorae (ancient clay jars) that once held millions of gallons of Spanish olive oil.
Production intensified after the arrival of the olive-savvy Romans, and Spain became the main supplier to their empire, which ruled most of the country from 212 B.C. to AD 422.
The arrival of the North African Moors in the 8th century brought more improvements in olive oil production, and olive oil came to be associated with these Muslim people. In their eagerness to reject all things Muslim, the Christian conquerors who overthrew Moorish rule in the 1400’s disdained "Islamic" olive oil (a bizarre characterization) in favor of politically correct lard. Naturally, this absurd attitude couldn't last long, and olive oil soon regained its place as a prized part of Spanish culture.