Sep 112012

I was at the local “big box” store purchasing school supplies for my youngest son. While traversing the aisles I passed an angry man arguing with a sales clerk. “I want what I bought, damn it” he hollered. I feel your pain buddy, I thought.

Was this man’s sentiment reasonable? I didn’t know, yet without knowing the circumstances surrounding his complaint, I was immediately sympathetic. Why? Because this is how I feel each time I place an item in my shopping cart. I too want what I bought – damn it!

This morning I read an article from the National Journal entitled Why a Lobbying Fight Broke Out Over Olive Oil. It evoked in me that visceral acrimony most of us feel when we or those we care about are wronged. I felt cheated – again, by those same folks who are perpetually cheating us purchasers of olive oil.

Here’s the bulletized back story to the article from the National Journal.

  • Scientific evidence and sensory evaluation proved that both adulterated (fake) olive oil and low-quality olive oil are posing as extra virgin (an actual legal designation) and are currently residing on your grocery shelf.
  • This stuff, which is not what you or I paid for, is being sold around the world to unsuspecting consumers.
  • The sellers of this stuff are major companies who know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and don’t care.
  • These major companies exercise control by making up the voting and decision-making membership on most European regulatory, standards, and trade organizations.
  • They laugh at us while smoking their big cigars and sipping their grappa. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.
  • United States olive growers and extra virgin olive oil producers got mad and decided to take action against this organized mob by developing a set of voluntary standards for themselves. This set of standards is called a marketing order and it only applies to olive oil producers from the United States – no one else.
  • Who could object to a US industry’s desire to self-regulate for the benefit of consumers? The same creeps that are controlling the non-regulation, non-standards, non-enforcement in Europe, that’s who.
  • In the United States the “creeps” operate through the North American Olive Oil Association, a trade association for olive oil importers. Not all olive oil importers are bad guys, but Olive Crazy is throwing the baby out with the bath water. They know what their colleagues are up to.
  • When the US olive growers and olive oil producers decided to regulate themselves, the membership of the NAOOA launched an attack campaign and created another fakery. They set up a group called the Alliance for Olive Oil Quality Standards. A rose by any other name … Now substitute for ‘rose’ a word depicting the smelly product of digestive elimination … Yup, that’s what I mean.
  • The Alliance for Olive Oil Quality Standards spent $80,000.00 to hire a powerful, Washington DC lobbying firm to coerce, with dinners and campaign contributions, the members of the United States Congress to kill the US olive growers and olive oil producers attempt to regulate their own industry. Why?
  • They don’t want us to get what we bought.
  • Damn it!!!!!!!

If you are sick of not getting what you bought then please take the advice of this lowly olive and olive oil enthusiast/champion of consumers everywhere/champion of all producers of great olive oil, and buy your olive oil from olive oil producers in your own country. Folks that you have learned to know and trust. Here are three of my current favorites in the United States:

The Olive Press (California)

California Olive Ranch (California)

Georgia Olive Farms (Georgia). Please note, they have a small grove and are sold out, but will have more evoo available later this fall or in the early winter. It’s great and it goes fast.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Oct 302011

Every day I read lots of material about the olive, some from books and others from the internet. Each week I share with you the articles, recipes, research documents, and other information I find on the internet. Most of it is very interesting and some of it inspires me to write an article or two of my own. None of these links are in any way my opinion or are endorsed by me. I am sharing.

Olive Links of the Week

Savoring Tuscany
EVOO Cannon Beach
A segment from Oregon’s EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School’s blog by Bob Neroni. Bob and partner, Lenore Emery, have an interesting website and I enjoy Bob’s blog.

Olive Oil Industry Groups Reject Proposals for CAP Reform
The Olive Oil Times
Out of this article the following statement is what interested me most, maybe it’s because I’m a lobbyist. “Andalusia’s Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, Clara Aguilera, announced last week she hoped to form a lobby group of the main EU olive oil producers – France, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain – to jointly defend the sector’s interests.”

Israel gifts pope with olive tree
JTA news service
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving a 200 year old olive tree to Pope Benedict XVI. I wonder where he will plant it.

My Three Favorite Appetizers, I Think
6th Floor Blogs from the NY Times
All good things go with olive oil.

California Olive Oil: The New Gold Rush?
Neon Tommy
Another spin on California olive oils vs. European.

Farm-fresh chicken without the hassle, mess of DIY (Chili Rubbed Chicken Recipe)
This recipe has a delicious south-west flavor.

Grapevine: More than just an olive branch
The Jerusalem Post
This article has the answer to where the Pope is going to put his new old olive tree.

Olive industry attacks Coles and Woolworths over labelling
ABC Rural News (Australia)
Naughty – naughty, Coles and Woolworths aren’t following new Australian olive oil labelling rules.

U.S. Customs finds olive fruit flies in San Diego
North County Times
California olive crop is again battling olive fruit fly. A Lebanese traveller was caught by US Customs with olives infested with the fly.

Test kitchen bonus: A trio of flavorful stone crab recipes
The Orlando Sentinel
Some great crab recipes from the Sentinel’s Test Kitchen.

Cookbook: Olive Oil for Life
Santa Barbara Independent
Global Gardens Owner, Theo Stephan, Releases New Cookbook.

End of the road for Colavita/Forno D’Asolo
Pro Cycling News
Colavita has pulled it’s support for the US International Cycling Union (UCI) Colavita/Forno D’Asolo Women’s Professional Cycling Team. Why the women’s team? Colavita allegedly lost supplier support for the venture. The rest of the “why” I don’t know.

Egg for beauty
Arab Times
An easy and great feeling egg and olive oil facial treatment. It really does work.

Sweet on olive oil? Bake cakes with this healthy ingredient
Four delicious recipes are in this article: Chocolate olive cupcakes, berry compote, lemon olive oil cake, and orange olive oil cake.

Oliana Premium Olive Oils and Vinegars
A website from a store in West Hollywood, California that I thought might be interesting to peruse.

Flos Olei Guide Awards Sicily’s Titone Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Year
The Olive Oil Times
Azienda Agricola Biologica Titone was awarded Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the Year. Founded in 1936, the Titone family’s farm in Sicily grows Cerasuola, Nocellara del Belice and Biancolilla cultivars on 4,900 trees to produce about 4,000 liters of organic extra virgin.

Restaurant review: Al Cavaliere in Clifton, New Jersey
Hot bread and extra virgin olive oil for starters – yum.

The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller section
Descriptions of some really nice places to get away.

Gino Venitucci knows how to make money in growing olive trees
Dayton section of Your Houston News
Mr. Venitucci is an optimist despite the plight of the farmer.

The Chef’s Olive Mix will bring quality olive oil to Sacramento, owner says
Sacramento Press
Fresh olive oils are coming for you to taste and buy in old Sacramento.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Sep 192011

When you read the history of the US/California olive industry, it is a multi-century saga of small successes followed by big defeats. These defeats are frequently politically-motivated and are not made by foreign governments, but by the US government and both dominant US political parties. Here are three examples:

Beating # 1. After World War II, the US was positioned to be the world leader in olive oil and table olive production. The reason was that the war-devastated, Mediterranean, olive-producing countries could not produce sufficient fruit to satisfy the world market at that time. In a short-sighted series of blunders, Presidents Truman (D) and Eisenhower (R) and their Congresses (D and R), gave world-wide authority to the newly formed United Nations, and blessed the subsidization of olive oil by the European countries that formed their price-control cabal, the International Olive Oil Council n/k/a International Olive Council (IOC).

Beating # 2. It’s 2008 and the olive fruit fly is plaguing the revived, US olive industry. The pest, which rarely gets out-of-control in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, has found a happy home in California and is busily munching away. US olive industry revival stands to take a huge hit. US Congressman Mike Thomas (D) asks for money in the Congressional budget to conduct scientific research on the olive fruit fly (this is normal procedure for all Members of Congress). Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) is running for US Vice President and attacks this and other scientific, research projects as pork barrel spending. Democrats and Republicans alike jump on the band wagon and the fruit fly munches on.

Beating # 3. Now, in 2011, the “Arab Spring” revolutions are slowly winding down. Again, US politicians are ignorantly taking another swing at the suffering US olive industry. The current President (D) and Congress (R) are planning on propping up another country’s olive industry to the possible damage of their own. Here is an important article, a must-read by Stacy Finz of the San Francisco Chronicle: “U.S. aid to Morocco worries California olive farmers“.

Who’s to blame for US political ignorance about it’s own olive industry? Get ready – the US olive industry is to blame. There is no organized US effort to educate and lobby Congress. Sure, the small, thinly-stretched, olive-knowledgeable, California, academic population tries to make a go at this, but their attempts only highlight the olive industry’s failure to establish itself as a “force” in the real center of US political power, Washington, DC. The US olive industry, without a strong national organization ready to behave as the “power broker” it should be, is just another industry marketing a boutique fruit. California may be the place where most of the trees and knowledge are, but it has consistently shown it is not the place where political power develops.

International, commercial olive production is expanding rapidly. The Mediterranean basin olive-producing countries are weak, but are fighting hard to expand into new territories and revive old markets. All this is going on while the US olive industry focuses on its navel and weeps fat, briny tears of self pity. I have no patience for this display. If the US olive industry is unwilling to put up the money necessary to create a real organization, lobby Congress, and market their product in this country, which happens to be the largest potential market for olive oil specifically (the IOC knows this), then they deserve to sputter along for another couple hundred years tagged as a perpetually-emerging market.

Power broker or hobbyist – you decide.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Sep 182011

Every day I read lots of material about the olive, some from books and others from the internet. Each week I share with you the articles, recipes, research documents, and other information I find on the internet. Most of it is very interesting and some of it inspires me to write an article or two of my own. None of these links are in any way my opinion or are endorsed by me. I am sharing.

Olive Links of the Week

Excellent advice for making small and large batches of pesto from Victoria and Vancouver Island Times Colonist, “Ask Eric: Are pricy pine nuts essential in pesto?“.

Should you brush teeth with olive, coconut, or sesame seed oil to help prevent cavities or gum infections?” from

From Fox News online read “Olive Oil: 101“.

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH: Quinoa Tabbouleh” from Tucson, Arizona News 13. I love quinoa. It is a tasty, light alternative to grains or cereals and is high in protein. I’ve made it for the family and am the only one that eats it since my husband and kids think it “looks funny”. When you cook it – it sprouts, which looks like a little tail.

An interesting story about Jane and Neil Seymour: Owners of Mount Zero in the Wimmera region of Victoria, AU, from The Sydney Morning Herald online.

Here are some ideas for using up all those peppers you harvested this year. From the Catonsville Patch, “From the Farm: Recipes for Peppers“.

From The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “This year’s olive harvest is the pits“.

Importing olive oil from Spain is a new business for a busy mum” from the Ely Standard.

EU food labelling law spotlights strength of industry lobbying” and olive oil is effected. Article from the EU Observer.

Olives and Olive Oil Press Conference and Tasting at Spring 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week” – photos from International Olive Council’s “Add Some Life” press conference in NYC.

Olive trees always seem to get in the middle of the troubles in the eastern Mediterranean – “Palestinians on statehood: ‘We want action, not votes at the UN’” from The Guardian.

Roasted tomato soup recipe from the Shreveport Times.

Grapevine Olive Oil Company opens new store. Read article from The Dallas Observer, “Lovers Lane Olive Oil is Open with an Abundance of Smashed Olives and Spices“.

Broad Street Licensing Group Food NewsSay It Ain’t So: EVOO Not Really Virgin?” – chefs file lawsuit in California Superior Court over defective olive oils.

From Mother Nature Network, “Olive Garden, Red Lobster slimming children’s menus“. The aim is fewer calories and less sodium.

Master Gardeners: Marin’s Mediterranean climate ideal for growing olives” article from the Marin Independent Journal.

From a delicious and recipe, a little cheesy and a little spicy, “Chorizo & feta gozleme with tomato salad“. It’s almost like a pizza but flaky and light.

May the sun shine through your branches.