How Do We Measure Quality: Extra Virgin Olive Oils

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Extra virgin olive oil for the purpose of my theme, the ways in defining quality is just as similar as differentiating between choices.

First, the dates. Harvest year (usually falling between Fall and Winter) and expiration dates should be enough to portray the product life, usually up to 2 years (though best if used within a year for consistency in taste and quality). With those two items already in mind when you buy your oil, you could predict how old the oil is (or how long it’s been on the shelf) and how much longer is left.

Another point would be to check which region or country it’s from. This is a whole new topic which may get a bit ugly, but in short the variable geo-climate, technique, and olives could alter the definitive quality right away. Mediterranean climates are favorable due to its abundant sun, cool climate, and the natural hilly geographical location not easily manipulated elsewhere in the world (attempts in the US and claims of similar to near perfection is debatable). Even the discussion of Italia’s best is difficult to analyze. Actually I dare you to ask any Italian where they think has the best olive oil and I guarantee every single one of them will assume their origin as the best. That’s why I wouldn’t want to start an argument siding on one over another.

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How Do We Measure Quality?

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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!

Why So #@%!’n Expensive?!

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With what happened back in late 2008 this doesn’t seem to be something new. But even to this day after almost 3 years, billions of tax-payers dollars pumped into the economy, buying out companies, merging power houses, and government take overs, we still haven’t been able to live off the good ol’ days prior to ’08. I’m not an economist or a financial forecaster of any kind so I may be a bit rash to assume 3 years is enough. Five, maybe ten years at best.

But you start to wonder, has the economy really effected why we end up paying more and why there’s been multiple price changes each year? I can not and will not answer that. However I have noticed that somethings haven’t changed. Slightly in the circle of business, I wouldn’t dare criticize my competitors or buyers or anyone else that are (potentially) related to my entrepreneurship.

With that said, I’m starting to sense that many outlets have started to use that event as a means to increase prices, under observation of course. Speaking for myself, having to have worked under a salary since right before the economy stepped in a pile of poop, there was nothing noticeably different in the way I spent my money or the products I usually bought. Gradually the prices started to sneak up from behind us…then BAM $four for a tiny “gourmet” burger, smaller in size than In & Out burger and not quite sure what was gourmet about it besides its size, $three drinks (non-alcoholic) and that was excluding the truffle fries for just as much as the burger. This was no hotel restaurant or a 5-star luncheon, it was just another establishment claiming its originality via price (and yelp).