Olive harvest from a thousand years old olive tree in Shepharam Israel 1998 photograph by S.L. Abrahmov
As someone who is very interested in olive culture I found this article in the NYT quite captivating. What is more interesting is this previous article (titled Slippery Business) on the Italian oil industry. In a way this article portrays more than shady dealing with olive oil but also to a deep rooted social problems. Basing an opinion on one article is risky, apparently this olive oil fraud continues in Italy as reported here. Which raises the question why buy Italian olive oil in the first place when so much more credible sources exist today.
Currently in Israel there are many producers of world class extra virgin olive oil. The best of them use the intensive method described in the NYT article and the secret behind the success of these growers that they adopted and adapted growing approaches and harvest of grapes and wines to those of olive growing and oil production. Rated in 2011 as best Israeli quality producer is Eretz Gshur which was also rated as one of the best olive oil in the world. A very successful newcomers are the olive oils of Kibbutz Magal.
Which brought me further to this reflection about quality olive oil. In my visits to Crete, I have discovered that in actuality they produce without any special efforts superior olive oil which is characterized by the low acidity rating of 0.3% ( normal grade for Extra Virgins is 0.5%). The small size Koroneiki olives in the Island and probably climate and soil are probably the main factors for such olive oil quality.
Koroneiki olives Sfinari Crete 2009And here is the big question: What is the reason that Cretan olive oil has such a modest international presence?