In Mediterranean countries where olives and olive by-products represent a sizeable proportion of local diets, life expectancy rates are higher and risk of heart diseases are lower. This is true especially when compared to their North American and Northern European counterparts. Olive oil is rich in fatty acids—the good fatty acids that the body requires unlike saturated and trans fats.
When selecting olive oil from the supermarket, the first decision tree is of the purity of the oil—refined, virgin, or extra virgin. But perhaps you didn’t know that within the “extra virgin” segment not all oils are the same. According to the Olive Oil Times, a website dedicated to everything olives, “69 percent of imported olive oil samples and 10 percent of California olive oil samples labeled as extra virgin failed to meet the IOC/USDA standards for extra virgin olive oil”.
Michele Iadarola, of Puglia, Italy, wants to restore the good name of olive oil and that of his native country Italy. Currently based in New York City, he is launching his new company Especially Puglia.
The Kickstarter campaign for Especially Puglia is based on a farm-to-table model with a little twist—adoption of an olive tree. When you adopt an olive tree from Especially Puglia, you will receive a package from the company with a certificate of adoption including a photo and number of the actual tree in Puglia, Italy. You will also receive a Puglia-made ceramic bottle and three liters of extra virgin olive oil from your adopted tree. All of this comes in a small wooden crate delivered to your door in time for Christmas.
My wife and I strive to substitute other oils with olive oil where possible. This is a minor tweak in our cooking with a positive health potential—that and I also prefer the taste of olive oil to others. We were pleased to eventually locate some among the myriad of other cooking oils here in Vietnam. But even then, we have to trust what’s in the bottle. When you can’t read the back of the label, you really wonder what certain products are made of. Even more so when it is in your native tongue and you still don’t understand the label.
More importantly, olive oil should be fresh. Ladarola explains that unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with time and that the health benefits and taste deteriorate over time. Many options at the store could have been bottled up for a year or more. Especially Puglia’s “olive oil [is] cold pressed within eight hours of being harvested, packaged, and shipped directly from Puglia to you”.
Show your support for Especially Puglia by backing the project, so that you POP it out of the crate in time for Christmas dinner. Oh and for all of the American readers—Happy Thanksgiving!
Puglia’s Kickstarter Campaign Page