"An economical version of MP costs $746.46 more per year while providing fewer servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains."
Last year, two dedicated and talented researchers in Greece developed a revolutionary testing system for quickly and efficiently testing olive oil polyphenol content in the field. After working through a number of obstacles to bring this test to market, they succeeded in getting it ready for the 2015-2015 harvest season. The Aristoleo kit first became available in October, 2015.
This development is exciting for at least two reasons. First, it's a great example of innovation and development that continues to happen in Greece. There are still talented and dedicated individuals in Greece that continue to thrive despite a challenging economic environment. Second, this is an invaluable tool for producers to quickly compare polyphenol content between batches of oil.
We're always looking for ways to improve our product and we put this tool to use this harvest season. Combined with taste evaluations and chemical analyses, we used the test results to help select particular batches for a new olive oil blend we're developing. Our Founder's Reserve edition will contain oil from only three batches out of dozens that we evaluated. We also used this test on our "regular" Spartan Oil product as a way to affirm the quality of that blend.
While these test results do not produce definitive values, they are effective in allowing for near real-time decisions on batch selection and production adjustments. Although olive oil has been produced for centuries, researchers are only now starting to understand the science behind its many health benefits. It's an exciting time to be a new company in the olive oil industry and we're looking forward to the next developments in this great journey.
Don't worry, there won't be any videos of people dumping olive oil on their heads--that just seems like a waste. We've got a tastier plan--challenge folks to use extra virgin olive oil each day for a whole week!Sound like fun? Well, you're part of the action, too! Next week, we're inviting you to participate in this challenge and share your ideas, photos, and recipes. We've also invited four creative food bloggers to participate and share their recipes--one per day from January 18-22.
Here are the rules:
- Use only extra virgin olive oil for all of your meals for an entire week. No butter, no vegetable oil or shortening.
- As long as it features olive oil, any type of food is okay--marinades, dressings, breakfast items, desserts, whatever! Be creative!
- Post the item, with a recipe, on social media using the hashtag #EVOOChallenge
Our blogger friends have been working hard on ideas for a couple weeks, so be sure to subscribe to each blog and follow them on social media (we hear there will be cakes, cookies, and all sorts of easy and fun ideas).
- Tara's Multicultural Table (http://tarasmulticulturaltable.com)
- A Passion for Entertaining (http://www.apassionforentertaining.com)
- Sew You Think You Can Cook (https://sewyoucancook.wordpress.com)
- Glover Greens (http://www.glovergreens.com)
Our goal is to identify LOTS of creative and easy ideas for using olive oil every day. The latest research recommends consuming at least 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day to realize the greatest health benefits (and taste benefits!). Consuming this amount (and more!) doesn't seem to be an issue with some folks. With these recipes, we hope to provide many answers to a question we still get during our tastings--"How should I use it?"
Please post photos to our Facebook page and use the tag #EVOOChallenge! Please also share your favorite ideas from posts using the #EVOOChallenge tag.
Let the challenge begin!
Now that the challenge is over, here are the recipes. Amazing stuff!
Earlier this week, 60 Minutes featured a story on the "Agromafia", an Italian term for organized crime related to food. Among other items, the story focused heavily on adulterated extra virgin olive oil. As several of the experts and commentators noted in the piece, the adulteration of olive oil has been going on for many years. So, if this is nothing new, why all the fuss now?
The reality is that the extra virgin olive oil industry is very immature. Although olive oil has been produced for food consumption for at least 2,000 years, we are still learning about the best ways to produce, preserve, and consume extra virgin olive oil. Until recently, there hasn't been much information available to consumers about how to choose an olive oil. Although many grocery stores may have dozens of varieties of oil on their shelves, very rarely will anyone be able to tell you about the differences among them. Ask about the various wine offerings, though, and you'll get plenty of guidance.
This information vacuum has been perpetuated and exploited in the U.S. by large olive oil companies. Everything, right down to the naming conventions for olive oil, has been manipulated to ensure market share is maintained and profit maximized. The 60 Minutes piece shows just how easy it is to, as they say, "produce a genuine fake olive oil". And, as noted, up to 80% of the extra virgin olive oil on store shelves in the US is fake.
Although Italy produces some fantastic olive oil (I joke with my Italian in-laws that the trees were put there by Greeks), the fact is that Italy is a net-importer of olive oil. That is, they consume more than they produce, even in a good year. As a result, much of the good quality oil is consumed in-country, while the lower-grade oil is blended with even lower-grade products and exported. In fact, if you find a good quality Italian oil in the U.S., it is likely that the oil in the bottle is Greek.
The issue of olive oil adulteration has long been viewed as a "victimless crime", with enforcement extremely rare. As the recent scandals and busts in Italy indicate, the issue is gaining some attention. Authorities have a tough road, though, since the profits in selling fake olive oil exceed those of illicit drugs.
As producers of authentic extra virgin olive oil, we can state with certainty that this is not a victimless crime at all. The health benefits of olive oil are widely known, but these benefits are for extra virgin olive oil. Buying a lower grade olive oil is little better than buying generic vegetable oil. Consumers have been conditioned for years to buy a bottle of extra virgin olive oil for $8 or $9 and have become accustomed to the cost (and taste). Although these are almost certainly fakes, convincing consumers that a true extra virgin olive oil may cost two or three times that amount takes time and effort (and some taste tests). We can attest that $9 for a bottle barely covers the cost of production and importing. Consumers and honest producers alike are impacted by olive oil fraud.
So, what is the lesson to be taken from this most recent national story on olive oil? Eliminate some of that information gap by learning to look at the back of the bottle. 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.
Let us know if this was helpful. We're very much committed to helping consumers get the information they need to purchase quality extra virgin olive oil. Feel free to contact us any time with questions.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services awards a special designation to products produced and processed in Virginia that meet certain criteria.
We are very excited to announce that we have received this amazing designation for Spartan Oil. According to the VA's Finest website, "Only Virginia products that meet or exceed quality standards are eligible for the Virginia's Finest® program."
We're honored to be included in this exclusive group of products.
Are those jingle bells we hear in the distance?
The holiday season is upon us and Spartan Oil is ready with some amazing gift options. Our fantastic gift options range from the newest member of the Spartan Oil family (200ml Spartan Oil Organic Bottle) to our Premium Gift Basket (8 premium food items). Check out the list below for options.
In addition, we've added holiday delivery options for our gift items. Just select the relevant holiday and we'll deliver prior to the day. If you're wondering about ordering deadlines for holiday delivery, check out our updated shipping information page.
We're really pleased to offer a new option for Spartan Oil! Starting today, you'll have the option to choose an Organic option for Spartan Oil. The olive oil is a product of organic farming practices and the oil is certified by EU-recognized entities. The price for a 200ml bottle of Spartan Oil Organic is $12. A refill option will be available in the future.
We will offer the both the Organic and Conventional versions of Spartan Oil. It's important to note that the conventional and organic oils are of equal quality. In fact, the taste characteristics are nearly identical. The organic is slightly more fruity and the conventional is slightly more pungent. Truly, the only difference between the two versions has to do with the actual paperwork and certification--the olive varieties, the farming, and the trees are very similar.
We understand that consumer choice is paramount and some consumers are making the effort to go completely organic with their food consumption. Whichever you choose, you can be confident that the product is of the highest quality.