Amongst the big three (no not the basketball of the 80s or the present, nor is it the big players of the second World War, or do I know much of golf), there are other well established extra virgin olive oil producers in the world, but hardly not as qualitative or quantitative. For this purpose, I will outright make the claim that the Greeks were the first to formally establish olive oil back back way back in times of the Minoan civilization. And before Caesar made a name for Italian civilization, there were the Etruscans, the prehistoric Ancient Italian civilization not known to many, but the first to officially refine in the qualitative form to what Homer calls “liquid gold”. As we (mostly restauranteurs and buyers) know, Spain has lush amount of land to cultivate more than Italy and Greece combined under a much more affordable price; basically the ability to mass produce. If we examine these labels under another light (perhaps a bit biased and condescending) we could view Greeks as the Americans, in starting something, Italians as the Japanese, always perfecting that something, and Spaniards as the one to always mass produce under lower expense, which I will let you fill in a country of your choice. ;P
Now don’t be offended by my arrogant metaphor, but do understand the players in this war between superiority within quality and quantity. Although Spain does have many quality oils (as do Greece), eventually it’s all about personal preference. In my experience, Spanish oils has mostly been undercutting Italian imports just as Greece are as well. As a matter of quality and techniques, they all vary just as there are rotten apples in every bunch. As for Italians, there are those that are stupendous, and there are those that are inferior. No matter where you choose, there will be a few obsolete brands. And as of taste, they also vary. There are absolutely no “better than” by country oils. It’s simply just preference.
One of the more ongoing issues on relying on products undercutting local growers. More prevalent in Europe and a visionary condition if the US hadn’t made strides to support local farmers and producers. Although with the worsening economy, alternatives in cutting down on expenses may instead lead to unwanted revolutionary trend…
Here, French locals (FDSEA to be exact) are infuriated by their chain grocery stores purchasing cheaper products from outside the country, while more and more of the local growers are forced to find alternatives to compensate for their losses (“farmers market”). While the compensations are a short-term relief, they’ve already begun taking drastic measures like protesting for stringent import tax, or in this case raiding incoming Spainsh produce trucks “Mad Max“ style(here). Although it’s important to note this surge of reprisal was resulted from the after-effect caused by the E Coli. situation Spain was heavily blamed for (and heavily lost $), but later rebutted due to the virulent bacteria later established to have originated from a German farm.(here!)
Perhaps a bit too broad a topic, however Spain’s relaxed labour regulations have to be factored into the same reason Spain is leading the global olive oil industry…Basically this cause and effect is a no win situation for anyone (except for maybe the Spanish government and buyers of Spanish products); Spanish farmers work under cheap labor barely making a living, importing countries hurt their own domestic growers, and competitors are withered away like a decomposing food (no, not like Mc*onald*s) or transforming into one, “Nightrider”.
Relatively correlating to the damage the economy is having within the Spanish olive oil industry. Add that to the overproduction and astonishing price that undercuts all their international competitors.
An inevitable end, causation of a changing society. In the past decades, we have seen much extreme advancements in technologies further improving our overall quality of living. All and most improvements which implement to our longer living and better life style, we could all agree we have benefited greatly beyond our ancestors. Certainly with anything we associate with costs, eventually takes a hit. Thus we see more progressive actions being supplemented to our activities and commitment to sustainability. How recent or frequent have we become more environmentally conscious? Global warming has been in light since the 1880s, re-instituted in 1979 (Lady Thatcher) and have gone through exhaustive measures and multilateral agreements to ensure the safety and conservation of our planet’s life and environment. Kyoto Protocol (’97), G8 (now G20), UN, have all played a tremendous role in sustaining our ecology. But only fairly recently have communities, cities, and countries have begun to make appropriate steps in ensuring prevention. Movements within the car industry, transitioning to public transportation, increase in recycling programs and products, alternative fuel research, “buying local” initiatives, farmer’s markets, all an overall change in our luxurious life styles. It’s been a huge improvement for people to evolve so quickly and to be more careful despite their (still) lack of political involvement. Even as little an effort is put in for the cause, still equates to greater strides.
However, there’s a need for some attention and explanation to a few changes that are in fact consequently hurting other cultures and lives.
How do we measure quality? Is it by price? Company prestige? Availability? Experience? Durability? Or a mixture of many comprised together? Some things are just difficult to grasp due to its significant varieties and choices while other things are simply easier to formulate. For cars, high quality is measured for its luxurious smooth ride supplemented by its array of advanced technological features or a simple durable car that’s long lasting, great mileage and solid resale value. For clothes we could consider fabrics or where it’s made. Polyester or cashmere? Commando or hand knitted? And as for food, well they’re simply isn’t a way to label quality like in cars or clothes.
With food, there are multitude of varieties from all over the world. One simple apple could be worth a penny where in another world could cost 10x that amount. The difference in how we see quality makes what we call quality. Despite the cost of transportation and federal administrative jargon, the more we like of a few well rounded rare items, the more we begin to perceive an item as quality than the rest.
Japan is infamously known for their incredibly jaw aching price for fruits, or food for that matter. But unlike the processing, harvesting, and distributing system we have in the US, Japan is highly concerned of being nit picky. A great well known example are melons and fruit box (yes box, not basket). A superior fruit only due to the specific inspections they undergo, the shape, size, taste, how it’s grown, how much on each vine, are meticulously calculated from growth to harvest. The end product is nothing less than perfect. Moreover, this procedure is manipulated amongst a whole range of fruits to accommodate the fruit box. And like inspecting a newborn Spartan, each deformed byproducts are discarded once again reinforcing only perfection.
The way they recognize perfection ends up becoming their quality reassurance. Price is definitely mind boggling, but it sure does taste great!