. . . the California variety.
Domestic and imported olive oil look almost the same, are almost the same. However, one was transported six thousand miles to arrive in our grocery stores, the other more like seven hundred miles. One is steeped in romance and ancient history, the other not so much, though California has an olive oil past of its own. Olive trees were originally planted at Spanish missions there in the 18thcentury, thrived for a while and then languished during most of the twentieth century. Clearly there’s a revival happening now. Italian, Greek and Spanish oils are not easily abandoned and I don’t suggest that. But, we do have a domestic alternative that deserves consideration.
California olive oil can be found in most grocery stores if you’re willing to look. I admit, you have to check labels a little compulsively, and when I visited five different grocery stores in the Seattle area I found few options. That will change, but right now you must be willing to look, and here’s the hitch. Several, but not all, of the domestic brands were actually a mix of California and imported oils. This includes organic Napa Valley Olive Oils (the Napa Valley Naturals brand). It can be found at grocery stores, in bulk at PCC and is a mixture of California and Argentine oils. I found it difficult to find a purely California olive oil, though there are a few. (More options to explore online. Links below are an additional resource.)
I’ve heard rumors that there may be a gutsy B.C. farmer willing to try growing olive trees. It sounds crazy, but there’s more and more evidence about the variety of foods we’ve given up trying to grow that we might grow successfully again. PNW olive groves may or may not be one of them. So, what’s the point? If you enjoy the taste and health benefits of olive oil, and wish to find ways to diminish your carbon footprint and the affects of global warming, then domestic olive oil is something to consider.
While you’re thinking about it all, try this herbaceous mix with a delicious loaf of bread.
Pour a little dish of olive oil and add to it a few morsels from the garden: a sprig of rosemary, a smashed clove of garlic, bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Dried Sungold tomatoes from last summer are a luxurious addition. Dive in with a piece of that bread, take a bite and be happy. And grateful that seven hundred mile olive oil is an option, which is about five thousand miles closer than the admittedly luscious imports from southern Europe.
Napa Valley Naturals: http://www.worldpantry.com/cgi-bin/ncommerce/ExecMacro/napavalley/home.d2w/report