The Great Greek Olive Oil Tragedy
August 14, 2020
Olive oil is a staple in home and commercial kitchens across the world. Your local Italian restaurant may pair it with a steaming loaf of bread and an assortment of herbs for dipping. Perhaps you use it as a healthy alternative to butter or other oils when cooking for your family. Or maybe you prefer to finish off your dishes with an artistic drizzle to give it that extra culinary flair.
But did you know that there’s a significant chance that the olive oil on your plate is not olive oil at all?
It’s the Greek tragedy they didn’t make you read in school.
My Greek Orchard is here to change the narrative.
In the United States alone, olive oil is an $1.5 billion industry, yet according to Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, more than 70 percent of extra virgin olive oil brands are lying about their purity. Many olive oil producers dilute their olive oils, meaning they mix the olive oil with less expensive ones such as sunflower or soybean oil. Others cut their extra virgin olive oil with less pure olive oils.
Yes, that unfortunately includes the big-name brands you buy at your big-name grocery store. Just because the label says it’s 100 percent pure extra virgin olive oil doesn’t mean it’s true.
So how can you know that the olive oil you use in your kitchen is the real deal?
A simple Google search will offer a long list of potential “tests” you can conduct to see if your olive oil is authentic, ranging from the “oil lamp test” to a simple taste test. Yet the industry has been corrupted for so long, all of these attempts fall short of being reliable.
So how can you be sure?
One of the most reliable ways to make sure that the extra virgin olive oil that you’re serving is what it claims to be is to purchase it from a single-family orchard or a small co-op of growers. So much of the dilution that takes place occurs when big corporations trust a complicated system of middle men to take care of their production. This is why it is so common for corporate buyers to purchase olive oil they think is 100 percent pure, when in actuality, it was sourced from multiple farmers and was then mixed with other oils.
But don’t worry, the olive oil industry is not hopeless! Fortunately, there are olive oil producers who have dedicated their lives to bringing the purest of olive oils to your table – producers such as My Greek Orchard’s founders Jimmy Pappas and Sam Calloway.
For 20 years, Jimmy has imported a small quantity of olive oil to share with family and friends. This oil comes from the same orchard that he worked as a child and that is still owned by Jimmy and his family today in Metamorphosis, Greece.
After several trips to Greece together, visiting the orchards and observing the harvesting and extraction process, Jimmy and Sam decided to form Grecian Oil Importers, LLC in 2017. The oil that they import is now the beloved “My Greek Orchard” brand and comes from Metamorphosis and eight trusted orchards in surrounding villages. The Greek olive oil is bottled and labeled in nearby Sikia, Greece, with labels designed by Pappas’ nephew Hristos Zervakos.
Our cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is made from a combination of 75% Koroneiki and 25% Athenoelia olives. Our choice selection of olives along with the climate, soil composition of the region, and modern processing methods results in an excellent product with a mildly fruity taste, golden green color, and low acidity.
Our business is a family business, and to us “family” is a word that we associate with loyalty and transparency. Because of this, My Greek Orchard is dedicated to bringing you, as an extended member of our family, a finished product that is as purely olive as the very olives growing in our orchards.
And we can prove it to you! Check out this video to watch our olives’ journey from Metamorphosis, Greece to your kitchen table.