An olive oil introduction
Everything about olive oil that you will ever need to know. Would you like a daily diet that is part of a healthy lifestyle?
Many people believe that olive oil is the elixir of life because like no other oil it has high levels of monounsaturated fatty acid, which are proven to have health enhancing properties.
The history of olive oil
In mythological history both Greeks and Romans have their own version of how olives originated. According to the Romans an olive tree began to grow in the place where Hercules hit the ground. In either case olives are though to be the creation of the gods The Greeks have their own legend and that is that olives were created by Athena. The olive was so revered and precious that the only people permitted to tend to their cultivation were ‘virgins and chaste men’. Although the precise origins of the olive remain unknown there is some evidence to suggest that they were cultivated in the Mediterranean region over 6,000 years ago.
Goods and foods were, in the early days of trading, transported by ship to many countries in the Mediterranean. Early records show that olives were imported by Greece for use as fuel for lamps, early cosmetics, and as a luxury food item.
The cultivation of olives in southern Europe was as a result of the spread of the Roman Empire. Olive oil became such a huge industry that whole provinces were dedicated to its growth and played a large part in contributing to the wealth of the Empire. However, after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire the olive industry fell into disrepute and dwindled to just a few plantations in Tuscan hillsides.
By the advent of the 12th century AD, Italy, once again renewed its cultivation of olives. Because it had always managed to sustain some olive groves, Tuscany earned the reputation as being the most famous for its olive groves. Olive cultivation became one of the nation’s biggest industries and as such came under the control of regulatory laws governing the production of olive oil and the cultivation of the olive tree. Within 400 years the largest producer of olive oil globally was Italy, and some of the finest Italian olive oil had legendary status in some of the royal households of Europe. By 1600 the imposition of taxes created a lull in the production of olive oil but as the rest of the world began to enjoy a level of civilization the olive oil industry revived and remains in constant demand.
By the beginning of the 19th century America began to import olive oil as a result of the demand from its Greek and Italian ethnic community. However, it had already been introduced to the new world a hundred years earlier by Franciscan missionaries.
It began its life in America as an import to meet the demands of Mediterranean immigrants but quickly gained popularity. A testimony to its global popularity is the amount of olive trees that exist, over 800 million, and growing in numbers, as the world demands more of this wonderful liquid. With so many countries and cultures using olive oil there is always an ever increasing demand.
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