More and more growers and producers of olives and olive oil are joining the certified “organic” trend. Even though organic can mean more expense on the growing end with conventional weed control and fertility management at approximately $117.00 an acre and organic at $1750.00 an acre (Paul Vossen et al., UC Davis, 2005) growers are making a go of it. I know I am seeing an increasing number of organic olives and olive oil products on the grocery store shelves.
To most of us organic means wholesome, unadulterated, or some other positive, good-for-you word. When I think of organic though, I think of a structured process approved by a governing body, whether it’s by the governing body where the crop is grown or the one where the end product is sold and consumed. Certainly the word, organic, conjures up some very specific thoughts in most farming and grocery shopping folks today.
Since organic methods are global, I wanted to introduce you to a video about a Peruvian Organic Olive Farm. It shows some of the natural techniques for olive pollination – bees (even though most olive trees are wind pollinated) and a natural method for eliminating some insects – corn.
In the United States the US Department of Agriculture is our governing body that certifies whether or not a food product can use the term organic. They have the National Organic Program which accredits and certifies and enforces the law, rules and regulations surrounding organic products. One thing they don’t promise or certify is whether or not the organic food is safe or even nutritious. They leave the good judgement part up to us.
The Mayo Clinic provides a chart that easily describes the difference between Conventional and Organic Farming. It is very oversimplified but gives you a non-techie, good idea of how organic growing works.
|Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.||Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.|
|Spray insecticides and pesticides to reduce pests and pest diseases.||Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption, or traps to reduce pests and disease.|
|Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds.||Rotate crops, till, hand weed, or mulch to manage weeds.|
|Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.||Give animals organic feed and access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures, such as, rotational grazing, balanced diet, and clean housing, to help minimize disease.|
Whether it’s by conventional or organic means olives and olive oil are delicious sources of anti-oxidants and nutrition and have been for thousands of years.
May the sun shine through your branches.