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May 22, 2018

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2017-2018 Harvest Analysis Results

Here are our 2017-2018 chemical analysis reports. A note about the "note" column. The acronyms USDA and COOC stand for US Department of Agriculture and California Olive Oil Council, respectively. Those standards are the most stringent in the United States and among the most stringent in the world. The acidity level of 0.16% is exceptionally low and is the lowest value we've ever had for one of our main product lines. 

April 23, 2018

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Original and Founder's Reserve Fully Back in Stock!

We're excited to announce that our Original blend is now fully back in stock. Along with our Founder's Reserve, we've got a full compliment of oils ready to deliver. 

The new Original blend is an amazing oil. It's got a nice balance of fruity, nutty, herbal, and savory undertones that makes it perfect for just about anything! 

 

A couple other notes: 

- Farmer's Market season is back! Our first market was last weekend and several more start in the coming weeks. Be sure to check out the Find Us page for more details.

- We are hiring! If you (or someone you know) is interested in a fun way to get out and interact with fellow foodies, please take a look at our Join Us page.

- We're still collecting interest regarding our Fall Culinary Tour of Sparta. Please check out the details on our sister page: www.oliveoilandfriends.com/spartan-tour

February 26, 2018

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The New Harvest Is Here!

Well, actually it’s mostly here. Almost diametrically opposed to the previous harvest, the 2017-2018 harvest was a great one. Favorable conditions during the growing season led to some amazing yields for the harvest period. Normally, the harvest is complete by the end of January, but this year, many farmers are still finishing up their harvests now. 

Our harvest was complete by the beginning of January and the first shipment arrived here in the US in late January. During that time, we’ve been testing, filling, and delivering many backorders. The oil for our Original blend isn’t quite ready, but our Founder’s Reserve is ready to go! This year’s Reserve is remarkable—very aromatic with strong green fruity notes. Quite peppery and with a pleasant pungency, this oil does very well with pastas, heartier vegetables, and seafood. It’s an unbelievable dipping oil, too. 

We’re expecting the Original to be ready by late-March. In the meantime, grab a bottle of our new Founder’s Reserve or fill up your existing bottle with a refill pack. We also have a few more bottles of our Alpha Batch available.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or want to know more about this year’s harvest. (Or, for anything else!)
November 28, 2017

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2017 Harvest Update and New Product!

Surprise!
We’ve been working hard on the new harvest and are very excited about the results. While Mother Nature decided we needed some rain days, we managed several days of good olive picking. So far, it looks like a success!
To top it off, we were able to get a few bottles of the very first batches of oil in production in time for the holidays. So, for a limited time, we’re offering our newest product—Spartan Oil Founder’s Reserve Alpha Batch
This is a truly exceptional oil, with strong green fruity notes and intense pepperiness. Preliminary analysis results indicate that polyphenol levels are at or above therapeutic levels. 
Grab a bottle while you can—at $19 this is an exceptional value. Enjoy it raw on salads, drizzled on steamed and roasted vegetables or soaked in a nice warm slice of bread.
Our normal Original and Founder’s Reserve blends will be available again in January or February, so this will be the only available product in the meantime.
September 11, 2017

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Where did all the Spartan Oil go?

I'm not sure whether to feel grateful or frustrated that we're all sold out of olive oil for 2017. On one hand, it's a great sign of how much our customers love Spartan Oil, but on the other, it sure would be great to get Spartan Oil to even more customers!


The reality is that the past harvest was one to forget. Poor weather and pests conspired to reduce our normal production by more than half. We were one of the lucky ones, however. We harvested early enough that we were still able to produce great-quality oil, albeit at a reduced output. 

This year's crop holds more promise for both quality and quantity, which means we'll be back to full sales sometime around February or March. In the meantime, here's what you need to know:

Thank you, as always, for your loyal support and interest in Spartan Oil. We look forward to bringing you some amazing oil with the new harvest.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, feedback, or questions, please be sure to contact us.

Cheers!
Pericles Konstas
Spartan Oil Founder

P.S. I'm launching a food consulting business. If you know of anyone that is interested in olive oil tastings or educational events, or someone that wants to start their own food business,  please let them know about the nice guy with the great olive oil. ;-) Here's the brand new website: www.oliveoilandfriends.com 

P.P.S. I also do general business consulting, too. Specifically,  process development, project management, business turnaround, financial management, and general management consulting.

March 08, 2017

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About the "Fridge Test"

The internet is a useful thing. Streaming movies, pictures of cats, baseball scores, definitions of 4-syllable words, etc. There are some downsides, though. Folks or (bots) with little expertise can forcefully (or repeatedly) declare falsehoods to the point that they seem believable. Eventually, a reputable source picks up these falsehoods and inadvertently lends credibility.

Such is the case with the "Fridge Test". Perhaps you've heard of it--to verify your olive oil as truly extra virgin, you stick it in the fridge. After some period of time, it will solidify. If it doesn't, then there's a problem. However, this has been de-bunked as an unreliable and easily faked test. Here are some research sources:

http://static.oliveoiltimes.com/library/ucd-fridge-test.pdf 
http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-basics/uc-davis-olive-center-fridge-test/33250

Having said all this, Spartan Oil will solidify. However, because our stoneware bottle acts as a natural insulator and protects against temperature degradation, it will take quite a bit of time to congeal. Ultimately, the true indicator of quality and authenticity are our standards for production, selection, storage, and packaging. Any reputable producer will, at a minimum, adhere to these standards. We go beyond by running multiple chemical analyses on each batch as verification.

For some things, there's simply no quick test that will answer our questions. Olive oil authenticity is a major problem in the US, but having unreliable tests perpetuated by seemingly credible outlets is no way to solve the issue. Understanding what to look for when choosing an extra virgin olive oil is much more important (tip: look for an easily discernible harvest date on the bottle). Also important is understanding the positive characteristics of EVOO taste--fruitiness, bitterness, pepperiness. Tasting olive oil should result in experiencing at least one of these characteristics, if not all. Some extra virgin olive oils will have these components in more subtle notes, while others will be quite extreme. Intensity of these characteristics is what makes each EVOO unique. So, go out and enjoy tasting some different olive oils.

In the meantime, let's use the internet for passing on useful information! Feel free to ask questions and share this article. Thanks for taking the time to read!

January 26, 2017

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Perceptions are Reality, Until the Knowledge Gap is Filled

Last year was a remarkable year in the olive oil industry--drought and disease created significant issues for producers throughout the mediterranean, but primarily in Italy. With supplies down and fraudulent oils up, many buyers of Extra Virgin Olive Oil moved away from Italian olive oils. One of the largest buyers in the world of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Costco Wholesale, announced last year that they were switching from an Italian source of EVOO to a Greek source. This was a huge development in the industry, which essentially acknowledged that Greek sources were more reliable than the Italian sources.

After about a year, Costco decided to switch back. In an article from industry publication Olive Oil Times, the reasons for this switch are implied, but we'll make it clear--sales and profitability. Despite professional olive oil buyers preferring the Greek oil, the decision to move back to the source was made because sales lagged and consumer feedback indicated a "perception" that Italian EVOO is the highest quality.

Excellent EVOO is made throughout the world, including many Italian oils. However, Italian oils in the United States have been consistently flagged as fraudulent, with the largest brands undergoing consumer lawsuits, including a recently certified class action suit. There's no doubt that Costco will go above and beyond to verify the authenticity of it's oil, but the troubling development is the decision to switch back because of a "perception". 

We've always felt that one of our biggest roles as an Extra Virgin Olive Oil producer selling in the United States in education. Consumers in the US understand that quality EVOO makes a significant difference in taste and health benefits, but there are still misperceptions about what constitutes a quality oil. As we discussed in a blog post earlier this year about fraudulent olive oil, there are several ways to help identify authentic EVOO--you should be able to easily determine the source of the oil and the harvest date. If those two items are missing, obscured, or confusing, there's probably a reason. Good producers have nothing to hide, which is why we post our annual chemical analysis reports right here on our blog.

Perceptions about country of origin should be left behind as a determining factor in olive oil quality. The perceptions are artifacts of an era when consumers lacked access to information and have been perpetuated through misleading and fraudulent marketing. Hopefully, our little helps add a little information to fill the knowledge gap to eliminate the misperceptions. Feel free to contact us with any questions, concerns, or thoughts.

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