Truth time: I haven’t showered in 5 days. I feel gross. Super gross. Plus I am wearing jeans that haven’t been washing in like 2 weeks, and have been worked in for just about that long. Super gross. So, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to doing laundry and taking a shower tonight. Well through some implied conversations and what I’m choosing to blame on Day Light Savings time, NO SUCH LUCK. I am locked out of the house with no access to shower or laundry.
Getting laundry done is literally the worst part of this trip. It takes some god damn strategy. Since I ripped a hole in one of my three pairs of jeans, I am down to the one pair that I wear to work out in the fields, and the ones that aren’t disgusting.
So here I am locked outside of the house in gross clothes and gross skin and hair, wondering how I am going to get my laundry washed and (air) dried in time for work tomorrow. The answer is, I can’t. So, the question now becomes, what do I wear for pants tomorrow in the field while my work pants are drying. It’s actually a pretty distressing question, one that is only made worse by the fact that I don’t want to go down to my trailer because I am so gross, and that’s where I sleep.
So what do you do when you’re on an olive farm, and you can’t shower or do laundry, or get online? Learn about olives, that’s what!
Let’s take a look at what I learned.
“Extra virgin olive oil” is in fact, pressed fruit juice with no additives. This designator means that is passed both chemical and taste tests, and is produced by machinery without an solvents. Positive attributes used to describe extra virgin olive oil include fruitiness, bitterness and pungency (peppery).
There are other chemical variations that lead olive oil to be labeled as virgin, or refined virgin (snort!) And as it turns out, most imported “extra virgin” olive oil is not actually extra virgin. Roughly 69% fails the chemical tests.
The lack of this virgin purity typically comes from the fact that either fluctuating temperatures or exposure to air caused oxidation. That, or the oil had been adulterated by cheaper, refined olive oil. Virgins, adulteration, this story is getting steamy now!
In fact, according to UC Davis, who is very into this olive oil thing, found that most Americans prefer the taste of rancid olive oil, because that is simply what they are used to.
But there is good news, savvy consumers, because there is one imported extra virgin olive oil brand that consistently tests positive for truly extra virgin olive oil. Any guesses?
Well, if you guessed Costco’s brand Kirkland, you’d be right. Treat yourself to some accurately labels healthy fats. (Seriously guys, any word on that sponsorship?)
I think this gets a pretty interesting cognitive dissonance in the mind of most self-labeled “foodies” and environmentalists, or sustainable agriculture folks like myself. All of us together want to decry the villanies of big box chains. And in the case of Wal-Mart and it’s Sam’s Club affiliate by all means let’s get to it.
But Kirkland again and again comes back with high quality products, and through its economies of scale is able to offer them at reasonable and accessible prices. Which gets at another tough question for everyone in this conversation. It’s great to demand high quality, sustainable and organic foods, but that leaves behind a large number of us who simply can’t afford to eat like that.
So far, this farm, with weeks of labor has only been able to produce roughly 100 gallons of oil. That is not enough to meet demand. And the product is expensive, rightly so. It’s a high quality product that takes a lot of work. But when trying to feed the masses, it doesn’t seem to be a good idea to decry the concept of economy of scale, but rather to embrace what companies like Costco and Target (and others) have to offer in their buying power. Costco clearly cares about quality of its product, and getting it to as many people as possible. Is it such a far leap to caring about sustainability as well?
Also, I still need a shower.