Olive Crazy: All About Olives and Olive Oil
Apr 092011

About three times a week I work out with a trainer to correct the barbeque and biscuit damage done to my body by my political campaign diet. My trainer’s name is Travis. This week, Travis asked me what I do. After I ran him through the ins and outs of my lobbying career, I told him about Olive Crazy. He wrinkled his nose and said he didn’t like olives. I asked why, and he said, because they are too bitter. I was a bit surprised but thought about a research brief I read from the UC Davis Olive Center examining consumer olive oil preferences.

Here is the link to the Research Brief of the study published in the March 2011 edition of “Food Quality and Preference”. The study, conducted by UC Davis sensory scientists, Claudia Delgado and Jean-Xavier Guinard, was of 110 Northern California consumers about their preferences for 22 commercial extra virgin olive oils. Half of the test oils were from California and the other half were imported.

Travis and my Mom are poster children for this study, except they are not from California. Mom with her love of rancid olive oil (see Help, My Olive Oil Tastes Awful) and Travis for thinking olives and olive oil are too bitter.

Here are some of the study findings: Olive oil that is high grade, with no imperfections, is actually more bitter and 74 percent of the well-educated Californians that made up this study did not like the “good stuff”. The authors did make some observations that these same folks enjoy bitter and pungent beers and coffees and perhaps with some prodding could be persuaded to enjoy extra virgin olive oil as well. What would that prodding be? It is nothing revolutionary, just good old phrases like “extra virgin olive oil is really good for you and your family. It is healthy and loaded with anti-oxidants”. Perhaps this is the Pavlovian approach to marketing evoo. There is a link at the bottom of the link I provided which directs you to purchase the entire study. I didn’t buy it, but if you are really interested and are hoping to market your crop then maybe you should check it out.

Regardless of the marketing gimmickry, I think Americans will come to enjoy all the humanly consumable grades of olive oil. Just give us some product, some exposure, some truths, and we’ll do the rest.

May the sun shine through your branches.


  2 Responses to “Northern Californians Prefer Bad Tasting Olive Oil – Oh My!”

Comments (2)
  1. My parents and I did an olive oil taste test last year. We compared two olive oils I purchased from Green Gate Olive Grove and two name brand store bought olive oils. The two olive oils from Green Gate Olive Grove were Mission and Arbequena extra virgin olive oil (evoo) harvested in October and November of 2010, respectively.

    The Arbequena evoo had a mild taste with a pleasant buttery flavor. The Mission had a stronger taste with a peppery flavor. The two store bought olive oils were both rancid. One being more rancid than the other. It was actually difficult to even want to taste it.

    My favorite was the Arbequena. My Father also preferred the Arbequena while my Mother enjoyed the Mission.

    It was great fun spending time with my folk and talking about olive oil. I’m looking forward to doing a taste test with this years olive harvest which should include the Leccino and Coratino olive variety.

  2. I look forward to your thoughts on the Leccino and Coratino after they are pressed.

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