Extra virgin olive oil evokes images of pretty olive groves. Eco-foodies, however, know all too well that not all EVOOs are environmentally friendly. At Grist, Tom Philpott points out that industrial-scale olive production causes serious ecological destruction — and that some cheap olive oils are cut with cheap sunflower and hazelnut oil!
Thanks to my farmers market, I’m able to avoid these olive oil-related eco-worries entirely. I simply get my EVOO fix from Adams’ Olive Ranch in Strathmore, Calif., which offers a few different local olive oil options as well as very tasty whole olives!
Once in a while, though, I want to try something different — since olive oils, like wines, each have their own unique flavors and characteristics. Here are a couple I’ve enjoyed:
Alter Eco Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: For olive oil with serious environmental and ethical creds, go with Alter Eco. This fair trade company works to counter all the bad news about war, conflict and razed olive groves by working with family farms in Palestine.
Alter Eco’s gourmet olive oils are organic and fair trade certified — and also technically carbon neutral, since an Alter Eco cocoa farming co-op in the Amazon plants trees to offset the amount of carbon emissions created in making these products. According to Alter Eco, these fair trade olives mean “an over 30 percent increase in farmer revenue over conventional prices” that go toward “financing scholarship funds, micro loans for women’s empowerment programs, and olive tree planting.”
I loved the buttery flavor of the “Robust” olive oil made with Rumi olives — perfect as a high-quality finishing oil. A mild flavor made with Nabali olives is also available. A 12.7 oz. bottle costs $19.99 and can be found at Alter Eco’s web store as well as many Whole Foods, local co-ops and health food stores.
Gaea Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic. Give Greek olives a try by tasting this organic olive oil, made from handpicked olives. Gaea is an olive company that has made some eco-friendly moves, like buying carbon offsets through myclimate and incorporating what the company calls “non-depletion policy on wild products, recycling policies, and integrated crop management” — but details on these policies remain a little vague, and only a few their many products are organic certified.
Still, Gaea’s organic EVOO is definitely worth a try for those curious what Greek olive oil tastes like. The slightly fruity flavor of this everyday oil drew raves from Steve Balogh of Groovy Green. Gaea products can be found in many supermarkets. A 17 oz bottle costs $13.99 at MyBrands.