Jan 212012

After I wrote my sci fi fantasy olive article yesterday, I was doing research for another, more tame, Olive Crazy article. This time I wanted some technical stuff so I went over to the Australian Olive Association site for a look around. There it was – an article aptly named Technical Information. I started reading the technical information, but didn’t get far.

Somewhere after Corregiola and before Frantoio in the first sentence of the first paragraph I got hungry. It was time for lunch. Then I remembered that I’d run out of most of my extra virgin olive oil stash and needed to get some more. Hells bells! I really loved the California Olive Ranch Limited Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil that was about to run out so I went to the COR shop and started to agonize.

Me to me: Should I get the Limited Reserve again?

me back to Me: Well duh! It is Limited therefore it is cool and besides it tastes really good.

Me: Okay, I’ll order a six-pack this time. Mouse poised over “Add to Cart” button.

me: Whoa Me! They’ve got some other extra virgins to choose from. Let’s check them out.

Me and me: Ooooooo! Ahhhhhhh!

Me: Good idea me. I’m going to get one of everything and the biggest bottles they have.

me: Good job! Now get back to work so we can go eat.

For those of you who are curious here is what I bought. While you look, me and Me are going to step into the kitchen and eat a leftover hamburger patty and eggplant slices, gently warmed in the microwave and doused in what is left of the Limited Reserve.

Limited Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml bottle) 1 17.97
Everyday California Extra Virgin Olive Oil (750 ml bottle) 1 15.99
Ranch Selects – Medium and Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml bottle) 1 15.99
Ranch Selects – Mild and Buttery Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml bottle) 1 15.99
Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml bottle) 1 13.99
Arbosana Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml bottle) 1 13.99
Miller’s Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil (500 ml bottle) 1 13.99


Okay, I’m back (Me and me agreed to return to I). Lunch was divine. Now for the technical stuff straight from the AOA website. I think it is very interesting. Fatty acids are amazing!

“About 90% of Australian olive oil is produced from 10 major varieties of olives, which include Arbequina, Barnea, Coratina, Corregiola, Frantoio, Koroneiki, Leccino, Manzanillo, Pendolino and Picual.  Olive oils contain phytosterols which are well known for their nutritive value which helps with the reduction of cholesterol absorption. Australian olive oils generally have high levels of sterols.

The recognised low levels of free fatty acids (FFA’s) and peroxide value (PV) in Australian EVOO’s indicates the high quality of harvesting, processing and storage.

Olive oils also have 13 other beneficial fatty acids including oleic, palmitic, linoleic and linolenic acids.

Oleic Acid:  Oleic acid is named after olive oil (olea).  Monounsaturated oleic acid is known to have health benefits. The content of oleic acid in Australian EVOO’s varies significantly and makes up 55% to 85% of olive oil.

Palmitic Acid:  This saturated fatty acid provides stability in oils which leads to a longer shelf life.  Australian EVOO’s are unique in providing the consumer with oils that produce very low levels of saturated palmitic acid.

Linoleic Acid:  Linoleic acid can vary from 3% to 23% depending on different regions and cultivars.  Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is less stable than saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. By selecting the fatty acid profile of the oil to suit the purpose, the best outcomes are achieved with the benefit of the optimum, nutritive olive oil.

Linolenic Acid:  Linolenic acid is an omega-3 acid, as it is found in fish oil fatty acids EPA and DHA. Linolenic acid is less stable and olive oil has useful levels of this fatty acid.”

May the sun shine through your C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-COOH producing branches.


Jan 202012

Today finishes up the second week of the Georgia Legislative Session. If you, kind and gentle reader, perused my About The Author page you will know I am one of those evil lobbyists, one who is sprinkled with extra-evil sauce since I used to be a Legislator too (cough – insider – cough cough). For the last two weeks I have traipsed down to what I grew up knowing as Corny Joke World and more recently as the House of Nerds, the Georgia Capitol. Please, Olive Crazy, tell us what you mean.


When I was 14, my Dad, the former high school drop out, apprentice electrician, WWII Navy dentist mate, Citadel grad, law school student, med school student, banker, seminarian, semi-pro football player, high school history teacher and football coach (those two go together like butter and rebar), farm chemical engineer, oil well lease negotiator, child psychologist, … added to his Benjamin Franklin-like career list and became a lobbyist for the most holy Roman Catholic Church. Since Dad was a big-time family guy, he took me, the oldest of his eight gorgeous and smart children, along with him to the Georgia Capitol during Legislative Session.

I was thrilled to get pulled out of school for a week or two to make the two and a half hour drive over to Atlanta to become the indentured servant of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, Clerk of the House, and Secretary of the Senate. Sometimes I got to be a Page. Being a Page was the best. When it was my turn to go into the House or Senate Chamber some old man would give me money to buy him a candy bar or some smokes. I’d get to keep the change.

However, I did have to endure a few indignities, one was constantly having my head patted and the other was listening to and politely laughing at corny jokes, hence the place came to be known to me as Corny Joke World. When I stepped into Corny Joke World last week I saw one of the guys who used to tell the corniest jokes and yes after 40 years (I am 54 now) he is still hanging out at the Capitol and lobbying for anyone who will pay him. I wondered if he still had that round wooden disk in his pocket that had TUIT engraved on it.

Next to Mr. Corny Joke Lobbyist was one of my fellow members of the House of Nerds. A member of the House of Nerds is a former or current Member of the Georgia General Assembly who watches Dr. Who, makes strange comments like, “I hope we’re out (of Session) by Towel Day (May 25th),” or, like me, had alternating laptop screen savers of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica characters and scenes.

My fellow member of the House asked me about the latest in the olive world and I, of course, regaled him and Mr. CJL in verbal, brain-dump fashion. This chased away Mr. CJL but my fellow nerd stayed around listening with rapt attention. Score!

One of the things I told him about was the olive conference which was to be held on January 19th and 20th in Dixon, California and how much I was looking forward to reading the proposed olive oil marketing order. Then in true nerd-fashion one of us started talking about the conference like it was a Con (ya know – Comic Con, Dragon Con, …) we pretended that all our favorite sci fi characters were making presentations and we did it in funny voices. We laughed so hard my mascara ran. I repaired to the ladies for a touch up.

Here is my fictitious and very nerdy schedule for todays Olive Con events.

Olive Con Day Two – Friday, January 20, 2012

Time Event Speaker
8:00 AM Introduction and welcome to the Fleet Commander William Adama
8:00 AM – 8:45 AM International perspective, evolution of the SHD olive, ‘Lessons learned from Kobol’ President Laura Roslin
8:45 AM – 9:30 AM Mechanical hedging research trials – how to best use your Cylon Chief Galen Tyrol
9:30 AM – 9:45 AM Break Elosha will be in the lobby reading from the scrolls of Pythia.
9:45 AM – 10:30 AM Latest research on olive knot disease and blood sampling Dr. Gaius Baltar
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM Soil type and suitability of SHD olive orchards, importance of evaluation and preparation in order to take over the universe Caprica aka Number Six
11:15 PM – 12:00 PM Tradeshow Check out the new Cylon harvester models in the middle of the tradeshow floor.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch and Tradeshow Try the dried algae. Don’t forget to pour some extra virgin olive oil on it. Outer space diets are bland.
1:00 PM – 1:45 PM Crop insurance and new iPhone app Lieutenant Felix Gaeta
1:45 PM – 2:30 PM New SHD trellis system – it’s a two toaster job Boomer and Athena aka Number Eight
2:30 PM – 3:15 PM Irrigation scheduling, crop management, orchard monitoring, and fertility experimentation Simon aka Number Four
3:15 PM – 4:00 PM Q & A panel of afternoon speakers – some talking in riddles Cylon Models One through Twelve, the Final Five, and a Hybrid
4:00 PM End (GET OUT) Big shiny Cylons will escort you out of the building so they can clean up after you. This will make them resentful and they will declare war on us, but not just yet.
Now, head to the parking lot to watch the C-Bucs play a riveting game of Pyramid. The Ambrosia and Hooch table will be manned by Colonel Saul Tigh, Ellen Tigh, and Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace. Hurry or the drinks will be all gone since they are lushes. Return to your respective ships and don’t forget, as you ponder the proposed olive oil marketing order, “this has all happened before and it will all happen again.” So – get it right!

May the sun shine through your branches.


PS For those of you who didn’t get some of the references here you go: Towel Day – a nod to Douglas Adams’, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; and the round wooden disk with TUIT engraved on it involves a joke that ends with, “get around to it.” No matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t remember how the “round TUIT” joke goes and I’m too scared to ask Mr. CJL – he might tell me.

Jan 182012

Tomorrow is an important beginning to what I hope will become a powerful, well-run, and quality-centric industry in the United States – the olive oil industry. In Dixon, California at the Fairgrounds olive growers and olive oil processors will meet to begin the process of establishing a marketing order for olive oil. According to the sponsors, one of which I know is NursTech, the Spanish-owned super high density (SHD) olive tree supplier, this 1st Annual Olive Oil Conference is free to attend.

I saw this conference advertised over the last few weeks and decided to educate myself on marketing orders. One very important thing I learned is that there is a marketing order for table olives grown in California, but none for any table olives grown outside California, and no marketing order or agreement in the US for olive oil. I guess with so many folks in California growing olives for oil and with growers and processors now cropping up in other states the time has arrived to organize (not in the labor union sense).

Here is some of what I have learned from the Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and from the National Agriculture Law Center located at the University of Arkansas. It’s dry reading but I am convinced, after my research, that in order to have a strong olive oil industry the US growers and processors must engage in this procedure.

Marketing Orders and Agreements: “Marketing agreements and orders are initiated by industry to help provide stable markets for dairy products, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops. Marketing orders help to maintain the quality of produce being marketed, standardize packages or containers, and authorized advertising, research and market development. Each order and agreement is tailored to the individual industry’s marketing needs.”

Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Marketing Orders:

“Federal marketing orders are locally administered by committees made up of growers and/or handlers, and often a member of the public. Marketing order regulations, initiated by industry and enforced by USDA, bind the entire industry in the geographical area regulated if approved by producers and the Secretary of Agriculture.

Marketing orders and agreements (1) maintain the high quality of produce that is on the market; (2) standardize packages and containers; (3) regulate the flow of product to market; (4) establish reserve pools for storable commodities; and (5) authorize production research, marketing research and development, and advertising.

Marketing agreements and orders are legal instruments authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 and in subsequent amendments. The Secretary of Agriculture is vested with the power to exercise the use of these instruments to regulate the marketing of eligible commodities — fruits, vegetables, specialty crops, and milk — in certain clearly specified ways. Marketing orders help fruit and vegetable growers work together to solve marketing problems that they cannot solve individually. They help balance the availability of quality product with the need for adequate returns to producers and the demands of consumers.

Marketing orders are binding on all individuals and businesses who are classified as “handlers” in the geographic area covered by the order. Marketing orders are distinguished from marketing agreements, which are binding only on handlers who are signatories of the agreements. The definition of handler and handling depends on the particular program. As defined in most agreements and orders, a handler is anyone who receives the commodity from producers, grades and packs it, transports, or places the commodity in commercial channels. Handlers must comply with the grade, size, quality, volume, or other requirements established under the program.

All marketing orders are initiated by producers. Producers have an active role in the development of program provisions and support them at hearings. Approval by a two-thirds or larger majority (three-fourths of California citrus producers) by number or volume represented in a referendum is required before any program is implemented or amended.

For fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop marketing orders, local committees of farmers and handlers – appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture – administer the orders. Committee expenses, as set forth in budgets approved by USDA, are defrayed by assessments on handlers. Generally, any excess funds are set aside in a reserve fund for future needs, but they may be credited to handlers’ accounts against future assessments or returned to handlers at the end of each marketing season upon request.

Committees employ staffs to administer order provisions (e.g., collect assessments, assemble reports, oversee compliance with order provisions), and must maintain the confidentiality of all information submitted by handlers. Committees actively work with all handlers to explain marketing order requirements and to advise them on any particular concerns the handlers may have. Also, committees issue periodic instructions – written in plain English – and provide pertinent dates to comply with any required assessment payments, report submissions, or other program requirements. Committees place a special emphasis on helping small businesses that are handlers regulated under their programs for the first time.”

Steps to Establish a Marketing Order:

“The industry meets to identify mutual marketing problems and determine whether a marketing order could help the industry solve these problems. During these discussions, USDA staff may help the industry identify marketing order authorities relevant to the industry’s problems.

1. If there is general industry support for a program, a preliminary proposal is prepared by a steering committee of key industry people. Growers and shippers are included in discussions on the proposal.

2. A list of industry growers and handlers is developed by proponents. Next a request for a hearing on the proposal is sent to the Administrator of AMS. It should indicate the degree of industry support, the problems the program would address, and suggest a possible hearing site and approximate date.

3. AMS reviews the request and supporting documents, as well as any alternative proposals from interested parties. During this period, the staff of USDA is free to discuss the merits of elements included in any proposal with the industry.

4. A Notice of Public Hearing is then issued, and it is published at least 15 days before the hearing. USDA staff can comment only on procedural questions after this point.

5. A USDA Administrative Law Judge presides at the public hearing and a verbatim record is compiled of the testimony of opponents, proponents and others, including USDA personnel. Because proponents bear the burden of proof, they must present evidence to support the need for the program, and every provision in it. Briefs arguing for particular decisions may be filed with USDA after the hearing.

6. A recommended decision is issued by USDA based on hearing evidence. This is USDA’s formal recommendation on the proposal. Persons are allowed to file exceptions to it for a set time period.

7. After consideration of all exceptions to the recommended decision, USDA prepares a final decision. If it is favorable, a grower referendum is held on the proposal.

8. While producers are voting, copies of a companion marketing agreement are sent to handlers for their signature. Through their signatures on the agreement, handlers indicate their intention to abide by the terms of the program.

9. If at least two thirds of the growers voting by number or by volume approve the proposal, the Secretary of Agriculture issues the marketing order.

This process may take up to one and one-half years to complete, depending on the complexity of the proposal, the size of the industry, and the availability of resources within the industry and USDA to devote to the proposed program.

Here is the link to the National Agricultural Law Center Reading Room on Marketing Orders. It has current legislative, regulatory, and case law. I really enjoyed reading up on marketing orders here. I love this stuff.

Now you can be an expert on Marketing Orders. Have fun.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jan 132012

Here is a video of south Georgia commercial olive grower, Kevin Shaw, showing home gardeners how to plant an olive tree. The items he recommends to have on hand are a Georgia Olive Farms olive tree, time release fertilizer, lime, stake, tape (plastic, non-sticky type), shovel, and water.

In my recent article Olive Crazy Goes to Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference, I mentioned that Kevin Shaw was one of the presenters at the Olive Educational Session. His presentation was chock full of great information for the commercial olive grower. A word of caution, if you want to be a commercial olive grower in the southeastern United States, don’t rely on this video to give you the basics for beginning a commercial enterprise – email Kevin at kevin@georgiaolivefarms.com.

No, I don’t work for or make any money from Georgia Olive Farms or any of their related or subsidiary organizations.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jan 122012

As soon as possible after stepping off a plane last Thursday, I tossed some clothes in the laundry, kissed Mr. Olive Crazy and the little olives hello and goodnight, and caught a few hours of sleep. Early the next morning I packed my car with the backpack I travelled to and from Florida with a few weeks ago and the toiletry bag I had to leave behind when I flew. I headed for Savannah and the Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

It was tough to leave my family again but I was excited about seeing my farm-country buddies, especially the guys from Batten Tractor in Douglas, Georgia and from Oxbo International, a specialty harvester company with several locations around the US. I was also excited about attending the first Olive Educational Session to be held at the Conference.

While I waited in line at registration I looked around to see who I knew. I spotted extension agents, the Governor’s agriculture liaison, a couple of Congressional aides, a clump of blueberry growers, and some organic composting folks. Under normal circumstances I would have made the rounds, shakin’ hands, and howdy doin’, but I was on a mission. I needed to get to the Olive Session on time and get a good spot.

Inside the room I selected an aisle seat with an unobstructed view of the podium. Perfect. Now I was free to have lunch and wander about until the session began. I saw lots of friends and collected a whole bunch of cheek kisses. I also contributed my fair share too.

On the way back from the cheek kissing frenzy I ran into Paul Miller, the President of the Australian Olive Association. He was looking non the worse for wear considering all the world travelling he does in the name of olive oil quality, truth, justice and the insert-your-country-here way.

Paul was one of the presenters at the Olive Educational Session. Even though I had met Paul before, I had never heard him speak. I was looking forward to his presentation.

By the time the Session started the room was packed. Dr. Mark Hanley of Georgia Olive Growers Association and Jason Shaw of Georgia Olive Farms were two of the first speakers up. After dignitary shout-outs and thanks to helpful people, the educational part got underway.

Jason talked about the timeline of Georgia Olive Farms attempts to grow olives in the southeast. I’ve heard him make this speech several times and I still enjoy it.

Then came Kevin Shaw who, along with his cousin, Sam spends most of his time in the groves. Kevin went into detail about how Georgia Olive Farms consulted with specialists, selected the site, prepared the soil, and planted the trees. He talked about the tree and row distances they used, staking and trellising, and the fertigation system they employed. He then spoke about the years of care and worrying – the disasters (real and feared) and successes. He finished his speech by explaining harvesting trial and error, milling, and an extra virgin olive oil product that was not nearly enough to meet a fraction of market demand.

Kevin’s speech was honest. “This is farming,” he said – plain and simple. Even though olives grow in California and Texas there is no playbook for growing in the southeastern United States. It is a risk, but a risk Kevin and his cousins felt was worth taking.

The audience had lots of questions. I could tell from the type of questions that these were growers who were excited but cautious. Many had been burned before by promises of amazing results and big profits, and the Shaws did not make any promises. I thought that took a lot of restraint from guys who are distributors of the Super High Density (SHD) varieties available in the United States sold by the California company, Nurstech.

Next up was Paul Miller. Paul talked about the marketability in the United States of high quality olive oil, gave US market probability data, and acreage projections in the southeast. He talked about the world olive oil market and coming changes. His speech was full of great information. I would love to hear the long version of it sometime.

Just before the end of the Session was near, a couple of olive growers gave testimonials. Normally I would have zoned out at this part but one of the testimonials involved USDA funding that was sought by one of the growers. After initial approval the USDA denied the funding. The grower appealed and won. This was some news I had been waiting for and was pleased to hear.

I left the room having been “olive educated” and wanting more. As I walked through the convention center corridors headed for cocktails with my tractor and harvester buddies I thought about how I could synthesize all I learned and share it with you. I realized that synthesizing the information would not be useful. I decided that I will take certain aspects of the speeches, research those aspects and expand on them in separate articles.

The worldwide olive and olive oil industries are expanding and changing, some parts slowly and some parts very fast. I am committed to keeping up with what’s happening and keeping you informed.

May the sun shine through your branches.