The distinctive Greek Oil. In short, why Greek Olive Oil?
- Greece is the leading producer country of extra virgin olive oil in the world and this confirms the importance and value attached by the Greeks in the quality of their production.
- Specifically more than 80% of the Greek olive oil is extra virgin olive oil, a percentage which in the island of Crete reaches 90%.
- The Greek Olive Oil of certified origin and production process has won a very large number of international awards and is considered the top in quality internationally.
- Greece is the third country in oil production worldwide despite its comparatively small size.
- Greece spends by far the largest proportion of arable land in the cultivation of olives. A very large percentage of this area is devoted exclusively to organic cultivation of olives.
- In a total population of 10 million Greeks, more than 450,000 families depend exclusively on the cultivation, processing and olive derivatives. This relationship explains the struggle of the Greek producers to maintain the quality of their oil products at the highest levels.
- Because of the enormous importance of olive oil and other olive products for the population and the country’s economy, Greece follows by law the highest quality criteria for the production, processing and protecting the quality of olive oil bearing a Greek label.
- Due to its special geophysical composition and climate, most olive varieties thrive in Greece offering the consumer a very wide range of choice among products with very different organic, flavor and aroma characteristics.
- The Greeks have the longest tradition in systematic olive growing. This tradition starts from prehistoric times and reaches our days.
- The Greek olive oil is an integral ingredient of the famous Cretan Diet and directly linked to the findings of scientists about the value of olive oil for health and longevity.
The Olive and Olive Oil in history, tradition and everyday life of the Greeks. The special bonds of the Olive with the Greek land and its people…
The Greeks were the first who systematically cultivated the olive tree for its valuable products and explored the properties of the fruit in depth. As witnesses the true find of leaves fossils aged 50000-60000 years in the volcanic rocks of Santorini, the olive tree has always been part of the country. The inhabitants of Minoan Crete were the first to systematically cultivate and process olives and spread their practices through trade and communication to other peoples. Since the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, in around 2000-3500 BC, the Minoans knew and exploited to their full extent the opportunities that the olive tree offered them. Either as food, timber, fuel or lighting material, either as medication, cosmetic, religious offer or mystical rituals tool, olives had a central role in the economy and practice habits of the inhabitants.
In the Greek mythology the olive tree was taken to central Greece on the initiative of Cecrops, the son of Mother Earth and the mythical founder of the first city of Athens. According to the writings of the Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias, the second tame olive tree was planted in the famous Academy of Plato, the teacher who influenced the philosophy of modern European civilization perhaps more than anyone else. The great legislator of ancient Greece, Solonas, recognizing the benefits, legally patented olive, which in the city of Athens was considered a Sacred Tree as well as a symbol of Life, Wisdom and Prosperity. Since then, the law not only prohibited cutting of the olive tree but also urged citizens to plant new ones.
The olive tree is connected to Greece with tens of references and legends. Long before the proliferation of the plant to the rest of the Mediterranean, the ancient Greeks described the daily practices of people around the olive and olive oil and observed the healing properties of the fruit. In the 8th century BC the author of the epic Odyssey and the Iliad Homer mentioned olive oil as “liquid gold”. Four centuries later, the father of medicine Hippocrates called olive oil a “great healer”. In the period of the Christian years, the olive continued to maintain its symbolism as the emblem of love and peace and there are many allegories representing the orthodox faith.
The country’s national poet Odysseas Elytis wrote in a poem:
If you deconstruct Greece, you will find that it consists of an olive, a vine and a boat, which means that with these three you can rebuild it.
Olive trees are strictly connected with the region, the culture, the history and the religion of the Greeks. Today in Greece there are about 150 million olive trees covering an area of approximately 6,000,000 hectares of Greek territory. More than 450,000 Greek families live exclusively from farming, processing and olive derivatives with about 2,800 mills operating on Greek territory. Greece produces about 400,000 tons of olive oil a year.
The mild climate, the warm Mediterranean sun and mild winters with regular and calm rainfall favor the growth and fruiting of the olive. They also allow the maximum performance of the tree. The climate of Greece combined with the particular cultural ties between the inhabitants and the tree helped the widespread development of olive growing in Greece. More varieties of olives thrive in this country than any other country. The olive tree has a very long life and can maintain productivity for centuries. Olive trees aged at least 1,000 years can be seen in many locations. It is characteristic that the tree emblem which was transferred from the island of Crete for the purposes of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 is considered as the oldest olive sample throughout the world and dates back to 5000 years. In general, however, the average life of olives is 300-600 years. In their first six years of life, olive trees do not bear fruit so it requires patience and care and it is a kind of investment for farmers. This interprets the special bonds developed between the producer and the olive tree.
The Greek Olive Oil of certified origin and production process is considered of top-quality internationally.
Greece is the leading country worldwide in the production of extra virgin olive oil, that is of the highest quality and purest oil produced, according to the strictest criteria and subject to more systematic checks.
Europe accounts for more than 80% of global oil production while Greece, despite its relatively small extent, is the third producer country in the world following Spain and Italy. In particular, Greece comes in the first place worldwide in the production of the black olive variety.
In Greece thrive more varieties of olives than any other country. The sun and the sea favor many of the olive varieties grown in many coastal locations. Some Greek olive varieties grow in mountainous areas, arid or rocky and very rough and others grow in the fertile green plains of central and northern Greece. In any case, the diversity of the Greek landscape is ideal for the development of a very large oil range from very different olive varieties. These same characteristics of the place attribute to the special oil varieties produced in the country distinctive quality, organic, flavor and aroma characteristics that one can hardly meet anywhere else.
Given its comparatively extremely small size compared to other countries, the production of Greece in olive oil and olive products is remarkable. Greece spends more than 60% of farmland in olive cultivation. More than 80% of Greek production has to do with extra virgin olive oil while the corresponding production rates of extra virgin olive oil in other countries are much smaller. This confirms the importance and value attached by the Greeks in the quality of their production. In Crete specifically the production rate of solely virgin olive oil reaches 90%. Of the total Greek production 50% is exported to other countries and the remaining 50% remains in the country for domestic consumption. From the exportable percentage, only 5% has to do with bottled Greek label products while the remaining 45% is exported to third countries in the form of olive oil in bulk.
The consumption in Greece is 18 kg per person. On the island of Crete, namely consumption per capita reaches 30 kg per year. Scientific studies indicate the Cretan diet as the leading example of the Mediterranean diet and the Cretans as the healthiest population worldwide. The eating habits of the inhabitants are inextricably linked with the olive oil and the olive fruit. The many archaeological findings which have been found on the island show that the roots of this tactic are lost in the mists of time.
Organic olive growing in Greece has a long tradition, starting from the time the term was still almost unknown elsewhere. Today in Greece more than 20.000.000 m2 of land is exclusively dedicated to organic cultivation of olive trees and it is estimated that this trend will particularly follow an upward rise in the coming years. Organic olive growing ensures the high quality of the product as it is produced without the use of agrochemicals and as chemicals are absent from the manufacturing process.
Overall, Greece follows the highest quality standards for the production of olive oil bearing Greek label. Precisely because of the enormous importance of oil for the population and the country’s economy the Greek legislation provides for systematic quality control by specialized agencies in order to protect the quality of Greek olive oil.