Olive oil has tons of health benefits. However, if you want to really make sure you're getting the best, organic olive oil is what you should be focusing on. Let's discover why!
Organic Vs Extra Virgin
A lot of consumers get confused between these two terms. Is it better to get non-organic extra virgin or organic olive oil that doesn't qualify to be called extra virgin? Organic refers to the way the olives are raised. It covers the use of potentially harmful substances. Organic certification agencies monitor the farms and do frequent check-ups. The way in which the olives are grown should be clean. This excludes most artificial fertilizers, the pesticides, and all sorts of other harmful chemicals. Extra virgin means that the oil fits a certain quality standard. It should be cold-pressed only - no solvents and no high heat are used in production. Extra virgin olive oils only have around 0.4% of highly acidic free fatty acids. This makes them more resistant to oxidative damage and healthier. They are also more delicious - as proved by the obligatory taste tests that certification companies run.
Why Organic Is Better For Your Health
Organic olive oil is gaining more and more popularity in the health-conscious community. There is a fairly good reason for that! Olive oil is a potent antioxidant and it can ward off ageing and cancer-causing free radicals. However, extra virgin is not enough here. If the olives were not grown in a sustainable manner, they might contain trace amounts of pesticides and fertilizers. Why should we worry about trace amounts? Mostly because you don't know what the exact pesticides/other chemicals that you are ingesting. Some of those compounds are so powerful that they can be toxic even in tiny doses. Even more worryingly, pesticides also have long-term consequences. They can increase your likelihood of developing deadly diseases like cancer. Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative illnesses have also been associated with the harmful chemicals found in crops. Some people go on to say that the organic diet is not more nutritious. However, according to the Soil Association, keeping to an organic diet increases your consumption of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Not only are you protected from potentially deadly contamination, but you also provide your body with more nutrients and healthy substances!
Organic Olive Oil And The PlanetIf you don't care enough about your own health, maybe the environmentalists' argument will work on you. Choosing organic products over their non-organic competitors does the planet a huge favour. The chemicals that are used on crops can harm nature on the long-run. Unfortunately, a lot of producers simply refuse to recognise this! By opting for certified organic olive oil, you encourage the conscientious producers and you don't feed the ones that couldn't care less about the environment. Organic farming yields profitable (because it is sustainable) but also ethical results. When pesticide use is reduced:
- Disease resistance goes up in plants - think of this as "raising their immunity"
- The soil, water supply, and air stay clean for local communities. These chemicals can sometimes stick around for ages and this is why it's so important to prevent their usage in the first place.
- The workers exposed to pesticied are at a high risk of acute intoxication. They are also potentially prone to developping deadly disease due to their chronic exposure. These people often come from the most vulnerable and socially excluded backgrounds. Non-organic farming directly affects their and their families' health and it doesn't even make a price or quality difference for the end consumer.
In short: organic olive oil is not just good for you. It is also incredibly beneficial to the environment. If more people were to go organic, we would be living a cleaner and healthier life
Whether you are a true Master Chef or a foodie with a taste for the finer things in life, this one question is probably on your mind: Does organic olive oil taste different? You will see all sorts of myths about this plastered on the internet. Some people go as far as saying that all organic olive oil comes with a slight rancid taste because no stabilizers are used! But olive oil contains nothing other than... well, olive oil! If your extra virgin olive oil contains stabilizers and flavouring, it's not really extra virgin. High-quality olive oil is self-preserving. When it comes in a tinted bottle package and it's bottled with minimal exposure to oxygen, it can last for ages on the shelf. Still, mind the date of harvesting (or if that is not available - the date of bottling). This can give you an idea of how fresh the oil is. It's not 100% sure but the less time an olive oil spends between the factory and your dish, the fresher and more healthy it will be.
Techniques For Organic Olive Oil Preparation
Olive oil, in general, is prepared by putting olives under pressure. The olive pulp is rich in fats, which are extracted through cold pressing only, or by the use of heat and/or solvents. For the olive oil to carry the "extra virgin" label, it should only be extracted using cold pressing techniques. This is the ""first spin" of the olives and the highest quality, undamaged fruit are used. As a result, extra virgin olive oil contains almost zero trace chemicals (other than those used in growing the olives). It is the lowest in acidity and the freshest tasting. Extra virgin olive oil also preserves the olive taste to the highest degree. This makes it so desirable for foodies. With a subtle aroma and rich taste, extra virgin olive oil is both versatile and flavourful. It can enrich the taste profile of a wide variety of dishes. Organic extra virgin olive oil is prepared with the same techniques. It is also cold-pressed and it contains absolutely zero trace compounds. Because there is no heat or solvents used in the pressing process, and because the olives themselves are very clean, organic olive oil is the highest quality you can purchase. Organic olive oil preparation techniques, along with the farming practices use, ensure you reap all the amazing health benefits!
Where Does Organic Olive Oil Come From?For an olive oil to be called organic, it should be certified by an organization. These third-party associations run frequent checks on producers. Their list of requirements is extensive but unlike the olive oil grade certification process, it has to do with the crop, not with the pressing and refining processes. Here are some of the requirements for organic olive oil:
- Avoid any synthetic chemical inputs - this includes fertilizer and pesticides but also irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge
- Avoid GMO seeds (genetically modified organisms are yet to gain our trust and until then it's best to avoid them)
- Use farmland free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years - this ensures all traces of harmful chemicals will be erased and will not make their way to the olives
- Keep detailed records and agree to frequent audits
- Separate the organic products from non-certified products
This, along with the on-site inspections, ensures that organic olive oil only comes from the best and cleanest producers. As for the country, it's definitely not just Italy. Olive oil is popular throughout the Mediterranean. Greece and Spain are two of the other major exporters of organic olive oil. Croatia, though it's not as large, has been known for selling better quality, cleaner, and more flavourful oils. The Croatian organic olive oil is favoured by chefs around the world. Unlike the mass-produced products you can find in your local supermarket, these oils are produced in small amounts and only sold in their freshest state. You can really tell by the taste, though it also reflects on the health benefits!
The Bottom Line
Organic olive oil is much more than a fad. Granted, it sounds nice to say I will be serving a dressing with organic extra virgin olive oil. But more than bragging rights in front of your guests, extra virgin organic olive oil is the best choice because:
- It does not contain any dubious trace chemicals. You will not be ingesting the compounds typically used in agriculture - no pesticides, no solvent traces (hexane can even cause cancer!), no fertilizer that made its' way to the oil.
- Taste-wise organic olive oil is the best. It offers a varied flavour profile and it compliments a bunch of different recipes perfectly. Croatian organic olive oil is particularly good for gourmet cooking. Whether you are a foodie or a true Master chef, you will love the taste!
- The health benefits of organic olive oil could fill an entire book. It is heart-healthy, it will provide antioxidants, and it protects your body down to the cellular level!
- Organic olive oil is better for the environment and the communities that produce it. It is safer and it's much more ethical. By buying it, you are supporting sustainable development and
So the bottom line is clear: organic olive oil is much better and it's the only kind you should be buying!
Buy premium olive oil from Selo Oils here.