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!