We're in Crete to buy the world's best EVOO
It's Friday, December 14 and we're in Paleochora in the extreme South-West of the Greek island of Crete, where the olive harvest is in full swing. We had some hail storms the past days but the damage to the olives does not seem significant, fortunately. Note how the Greeks like to shoot their road signs with buckshot and 9 mm bullets:
Why are we here? Because we read the book "Extra Virginity - The sublime and Scandalous world of Olive Oil" by Tom Mueller:
Since we're selling an EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) based product, we wanted to know what is true about the rumors that no olive oil sold in stores and supermarkets really is the real deal. The book presents evidence that virtually all olive oil sold as extra virgin is aldulterated with other oils and otherwise fraudulently manipulated and presented as EVOO, which it absolutely is not. It simply is impossible to buy real virgin olive oil, or any other "real" olive oil, in any ordinary store, anywhere. Unless you get it straight from a farmer's press or some exotic specialty store with direct connections to such a farmer, you get garbage, that is the message of the book. It is a detailed work of investigative journalism and it makes a convincing and shocking case.
First of all, we did not like that. The famous "rat longevity study" of C60 in EVOO used high quality extra virgin olive oil from Tunesia. It is as of yet not known whether the quality of the lipids, the quality of the oil affected the longevity-properties of the end product. The C60-in-oil is a lipofullerene, and exactly what lipids are connected to the Buckyballs seems not irrelevant. As soon as this unpleasant truth sunk in with us, we started to plan a trip to Crete, because we knew that Crete is world famous for their extremely high quality cold pressed olive oil. Crete has zero industry and is located in the centre of the Mediterranean. The south of Crete has no roads to speak of, and the culmination of unpolluted nature is Paleochora, a fishing village of 2000 souls. You won't find cleaner mountain water, seawater or air in the whole of Europe, and you will be hard-pressed to find better EVOO than in the countryside surrounding it. There are olive orchards everywhere here. We made this photo close to the village:
Largely migrant workers hit the olive branches with a stick and they fall on nets, spread below the trees. The olives are then gathered in heavy bags and driven in the back of pickup trucks to the nearest mill. Several farmers share he same press. It's often the richest farmer in the area that owns a press. We were shocked when we learned that the olive oil we thought to be high-quality, costing over $20,- a bottle in the supermarket was most likely fake, as nearly all olive oil bought anywhere is alleged to be by Mr. Mueller. We were shocked again when we were told that small trees only produce two litres of oil per harvest (= per year!) and that most large trees produce only around 8 litres. No wonder that the oil is cut and adulterated! The demand for EVOO simply outstrips supply by orders of magnitude! Real EVOO should cost a hundred dollars per litre or more, when sold in Western supermarkets. Instead, there is no such product for sale. The labels tell lies, and the European Union does nothing to put a stop to it. Read Mr. Mueller's book to learn how you're being sold yesteryear's garbage, diluted with inferior oils that don't come from olives and are hot-pressed and various chemicals mixed in to make it seem "extra virgin olive oil". Color and aftertaste - it's all achieved with additives. A lot of the oil isn't even from olives. And we're talking about the most expensive "Extra virgin - first cold press" olive oil available in gourmet stores!
We were curious as to the taste of real olive oil, so we went to the supermarket and bought a bottle of locally produced oil. The oil came in 0.5 litre bottles and cost substantially less than the cheapest fake oil (any brand-name oil..). There was no name on the bottle, no date, not even a price. Nothing. At home I filled a spoon with the oil and words can't describe the freshness of the taste. That oil tastes a lot like like fruit juice! And that's in fact what olive oil is - fruit juice. Olives are classified as a fruit.
Our game plan so far: We are hooking up with a local family who will receive a couple of freezers from us. They will buy the oil straight from the local farmers and they will freeze the oil so that it will not get rancid for a very long time. They will ship us the oil on an as-needed basis to our production facility in Swedish Lapland. To set all this up won't take long, but we still need to sell our current batch and the next batch before we can use Paleochora oil, so it will take until spring 2013 before we'll switch to Cretan EVOO in our C60 anti-aging olive oil.
Update: We just purchased 300 liters of oil. Visit the link for interesting pictures of the press! The oil has will be shipped on Monday to a garage in Swedish Lapland, where it is currently -20 Celcius (-4 F) and will stay very cold for another four months at the very least. Deep-frozen olive oil maintains its qualities nearly indefinitely. Come Lapland spring with temps above freezing, we'll prepare the first batch with Paleochora EVOO.