In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how the demand for inexpensive olive oil in large quantities is causing environemental problems in some of the world’s largest olive oil producing countries including Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal.
It’s estimated that 95% of the olive oil in the country comes form the Mediterranean region. For those of us in America who are trying to incorporate more local foods into our diet, this causes a problem. The U.S. isn’t known for it’s olive oil. At least, not yet. But it seems that many regions in California are stepping up their olive growing and their olive oil producing. According to a news brief on oliveoilsource.com
Olive oil is a rapidly growing industry in California, with volume projected to increase by 1000 percent in the next five years. California also produces 99.9% of the olive oil grown in the U.S.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 634 to provide stronger support to domestic olive oil producers nationwide by giving further clarification and quality control over olive oil sold in the United States.
So it looks like there will be a lot more olive oil being produced in the U.S. and steps are being taken to ensure the quality of that oil. In fact, the article says that
the new law finally gives regulatory weight to how olive oil is labeled and marketed and substance to quality control issues that have plagued the industry involving lower-grade oils fraudulently marketed as extra virgin.
This is good news for those in the U.S. who are looking to buy their olive oil closer to home. But for me, this still isn’t very close to home. I live on the East Coast, and from what I can see the closest producer of olive oil to me is in Idaho. Still it’s more local than the Mediterranean and there are some products that I probably will never be able to get truly locally.
As olive oil production increases in the U.S., it would be wise for those of us here to support it. The closer to home you can get a product, the less energy is used to get it from its place of origin to your home. But we need to go a step further, we need to be actively supporting those olive oil producers throughout the U.S. who grow their olives and produce the oil in a sustainable manner. We also need to be willing to pay a fair price to those who choose to do so and not demand large quantities of olive oil for inexpensive prices. If we do, then the California farmers (and others throughout the country) will choose the unsustainable practices that those in the Mediterranean have chosen to use.
A quick google search led me to several websites of California olive oil producers that say they are choosing organic/sustainable methods. I’m not familiar with these companies, so I’m not comfortable recommending them here, but do your own search for “California organic olive oil” and see what you come up with.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia