Nov 052013
Logo of Georgia Traveler from Georgia Public Broadcasting

Logo of Georgia Traveler from Georgia Public Broadcasting

My Mom and brother, Joe, were in Savannah enjoying the beach and saw a Georgia Traveler segment about Georgia Olive Farms and the Inn at Still Pond. They called me but I missed it.

I did find it online and here is the link for all to enjoy – Georgia Olive Farms and Inn at Still Pond video.

To all of you who have asked me about making a visit to Georgia Olive Farms, I bet the Inn at Still Pond is a great place to stay for your visit. Berrien Sutton, one of the proprietors of the Inn at Still Pond, is also an owner of Georgia Olive Farms – that’s handy. The Inn is about 25 minutes away from the olive groves. The Inn features an organic farm, relaxation, and some great cooking. Sounds like a good time to me.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Oct 242011

When we hear of polyphenols it is usually in relation to what they do that is good for us. Polyphenols are found in plants and are powerful anti-oxidants that put the smack-down on free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that, due to their instability, damage cells. My husband, the scientist and engineer, could give you a more thorough explanation, but Olive Crazy is the writer in the house.

So, when olives are crushed and the first batch of unprocessed extra virgin olive oil is milled out, the resulting oil is high in the good-for-you polyphenols. The polyphenols eliminate the extra electron in free radicals, saving you for pursuits like living to a healthy and ripe old age so you can enjoy your grandchildren.

But Olive Crazy, you say, your title says that polyphenols are bad too – what do you mean?

Polyphenols are bad when they are heavily present in olive waste used as fertilizer. The polyphenols can reach toxic levels and harm the soil and plant growth that the fertilizer is intended to help.

Thanks to the University of Sevilla (Spain) School of Agricultural Engineering, a study was conducted on the use of alperujo as a fertilizer in organic farming. The alperujo is a byproduct of a two-phase centrifugation olive oil milling process.  It is all the olive waste that is left over, solid and liquid, after all the olive oil has been extracted.

The alperujo can be used to generate energy and is being used to do so at two power plants in Cordoba, Spain. It can also be used as mulch after careful composting. The composting process reaches high temperatures which destroys pathogens and weed seeds, breaks down the polyphenols, and converts the organic waste into a stable humus, ready to use in the place of chemical fertilizers.

This technology has been around for a few years, but despite the potential cost savings and environmental advantages the processing technology is not widely available and research money isn’t either. The Spanish government is busy paying for the storage of past harvests which, by the time the oils are bottled, will have fewer of the healthy polyphenols than our bodies need, but that’s another story.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Apr 062011

I have been writing a lot about olive oil so let’s talk about table olives too, and not just the ones you find on pizza or in a salad, the ones that complement the raw and vegan lifestyles. I’m not vegan and the closest I get to raw are those veggie trays at the church pot luck, but there is an olive and olive oil market for those who eat raw and vegan too.

If you saw the video in my article, Conventional or Organic and Peruvian Organic Olives, the narrator, Dr. Christopher Daugherty, showed us organic black olives that had been sundried, which is a natural dehydration method, and he claimed that the farm he was visiting produced “the first only dehydrated, cured black olive on the planet”. I thought his comment was interesting and did a little research into what market they might be going after and it turned out to be the raw and vegan lifestyles markets.

What does eating “raw” entail? The food is pretty much uncooked, heating cannot exceed 42 C/118 F, and is preferably organic and unprocessed.

What about “vegan”? A vegan follows a diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy, fish, all animal-derived ingredients, and foods processed using animal products. Vegans also avoid using animal-derived non-food products, such as leather, fur and wool.

The olives we saw in the Peruvian Organic Farm video are from a variety called Botija, which I have also seen spelled Botilla. For those who eat raw, the sundried, black Botija olives are a favorite. The olives we find in the grocery, even though to most of us seem raw, do not qualify. There is debate in the raw foods world about olives. Check out the section on olives from the website, Tried Tasted Served/The Art of Raw Food and Healthy Living.

Olives of many types and curing methods fit into a vegan diet, but not entirely. Some olives are cured in wine in addition to brine and lye, and some wines are restricted in a vegan’s diet. Vegans also do not restrict their diet to just organic produce, so there are more olive varieties available to them.

The only olive oil I’ve seen being sold for those who eat raw is the Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced by the Bariani Family of Sacramento, California. The olives are grown organically and are cold-pressed so there is no additional thermal heat added other than the friction produced by very slowly grinding the olives before they are pressed.

For vegans to stay on the safe side with olive oil, it is best to purchase only Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The other grades of olive oil are processed using chemicals which may or may not be derived from animals. It is best to err on the side of caution.

May the sun shine through your branches.