I am very excited to share with everyone the story of a historic, uncompromising, international award-winning, superlative olive oil company – Berkeley Olive Grove 1913!
Most people by now have heard of the Mediterranean Diet (MD) and how eating such a diet seems to be very beneficial for health. One of the most recognized healthy foods within the MD is high-quality olive oil. High-quality olive oil is now recognized as one of the essential cornerstones to good health for most people and is now known to help prevent many chronic degenerative diseases when used in conjunction with other healthy dietary and lifestyle factors (1).
I have been trying to learn more about what really is high-quality olive oil and where can I find it. My research over the last few months led me on an interesting journey through various Mediterranean countries, but in the end I discovered that one of the very BEST olive oils is actually grown and produced right here in the United States of America! That is right!
Welcome to the Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 folks! Darro and Olivia Grieco are the proud owners of Berkeley Olive Grove 1913. This incomparable top-notch olive grove has been under their stewardship since 2004. When the Grieco's first discovered this 397-acre olive orchard, it was bank-owned and in poor condition. They fell in love with the 100-year-old trees and recognized the value of this traditional planting and the possibility that it could be revitalized once again. The first thing they did was to establish it as a certified organic olive grove and they decided to allow the trees to grow without irrigation which in turn produces an olive oil much richer in the health-promoting antioxidant polyphenols. This olive orchard is located in northern California near Oroville, which fortunately has the perfect micro-climate for producing exquisite olive oil.
You are going to be so impressed with the history of Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 and its very high standards of olive tree cultivation!
I recently had the pleasure of visiting with Darro Grieco to learn more about this very special and historic olive orchard and its health-promoting olive oils.
From Darro I learned that olive trees might have originated somewhere in the region between Lebanon and the Black Sea. Traders spread them along the Mediterranean coastline where they did well, perhaps first along the African side of the Mediterranean, including Morocco, but then eventually they were brought to Spain, which is now a major olive oil producing country.
In the late 1700’s, Spanish Missionaries brought olive trees from Spain for the missions they established along the Pacific Coast, known as El Camino Real. The Mission olive cultivar originated from the olive plants they originally brought from Spain. Today, the Berkeley Olive Grove is the largest planting of Mission olive trees in the entire world!
Therefore, the olive trees growing within the Berkeley Olive Grove are actual descendants of the olive trees that Spanish Missionaries brought to the Americas in the 1700’s! No one knows exactly how these olive tree specimens were successfully transported from Spain to the Americas over 300 years ago. Did they bring young shoots or young trees on their ships? No one is really sure, but these were educated men of their time and they chose wisely and were successful in bringing a very high-quality olive tree variety to what is now California. We should all be grateful to these erudite Missionaries as their efforts have resulted in us being able to experience one of the highest quality olive oils produced in the world today from the certified organic, sustainable, non-industrial Berkeley Olive Grove.
This special olive orchard is named Berkeley Olive Grove because it was founded by a group of professors from UC Berkeley who determined that one region of northern California was the “California Mediterranean”. In 1913, they planted the largest number of Mission olive trees in the entire world in one location which is now known as Berkeley Olive Grove. This is a historic olive orchard and eligible for state and national historic registries as the “Berkeley Olive Association District.”
With much foresight, and because they love this olive orchard so very much, the current owners, Darro and Olivia Grieco, have placed the Berkeley Olive Grove into conservation and the Mission olive trees can remain for another century. Olive trees can have a life span of 600 years, or even of several thousand years! As Darro says,
"Such a traditional agriculture environment might not happen again. This is a unique place, and with the entire estate in conservation, it will continue as a place where people can experience a large historic grove."
As you can clearly see, Berkeley Olive Grove is a rare specimen of what vibrant, traditional, organic agriculture can do!
Now here is how Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 can help increase both your health and your enjoyment of your meals!
Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 produces 3 different Certified Organic Olive Oils for you to consider purchasing:
Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 also has an Adopt-A-Tree -- Help Support The Grove in its 1000-year Project!
Berkeley Olive Grove ships throughout the United States and for the Armed Services.
There are some significant contrasts between how Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 was created and is managed to this day by the Grieco's and the high-density, mass-produced olive groves in production in the USA today. These differences have a huge impact on the quality of the olive oil produced, which in turn makes a significant difference in how it can support our human health.
Berkeley Olive Grove was planted in 1913 before industrial agricultural practices were in full swing in the USA. Therefore, this olive grove was planted in the traditional way, in this terroir, which spaces each tree in a triangular pattern with each tree 30 feet apart and thus there are only 65 trees per acre. In this way, each olive tree is able to develop a wide root system that allows it to be nourished well from the fertile earth. These trees derive all of their sustenance from mother nature. Each olive tree is allowed to grow into its beautiful large shape and is harvested and pruned by hand. Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 prides itself on maintaining a completely balanced ecosystem where wildlife, native plants and the olive trees all thrive in harmony. Horses and goats graze as well in the olive orchard to maintain the balance of the orchard understory plant species.
This is in stark contrast to the way USA agribusiness creates olive groves today, using very high-density olive tree plantings following the cultivation pattern of modern-day wine vineyards. In this high-tech olive orchard system, they use small olive trees spaced very closely together in rows, packing in about 620-700 olive trees/acre. To manage these high-density olive tree plantings, a lot of chemicals are used and harvesting is done with heavy machinery. Their goal is to maximize productivity and profitability from the orchard. They are not as concerned with the quality of the olive oil that is derived from this type of olive tree cultivation.
Darro makes the important point that
“the food value of olive oil is directly related to what it is grown out of.”
One of the most important reasons why we should be interested in buying only high-quality olive oil is that olive oil, if produced properly (from tree to finished olive oil), will contain nutraceutical levels of polyphenols, tocopherols, and other substances. Polyphenols are a large group of compounds made within the olive fruit that have been scientifically proven to help human health. They act as antioxidants by donating electrons to Free Radicals (FR) and thus neutralizing FR damage within our bodies.
While there are many beneficial polyphenols, certain key ones are often measured in olive oil samples because they are known to be very therapeutic to humans. A good olive oil will contain significant levels of certain polyphenols. With high-density agribusiness olive oil production, it is generally the case that the total amount of polyphenols within the finished product is on the low side of ideal.
Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 produces olive oil with very high polyphenol content. In fact, at the Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards 2020 in Greece, the Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 company was listed as one of the Top High Phenolic Olive Oil Producers in the world! Also, in 2020, Aristoleo awarded the Top Double Gold Peak Health Award to Berkeley Olive Grove 1913. This prestigious award was only granted to 7 other olive oil producers in the world. So, truly, Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 produces among the highest polyphenol content olive oil in the world. That translates into helping you maintain great health!
The most accurate way to analyze olive oil polyphenol content is using NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance). In another study, Berkeley Olive Grove 1913’s California Mission Classic continues to have, for each year of analysis since the beginning, the highest level of the antioxidant polyphenol Oleuropein Aglycon as compared to over 10,000 NMR analyses of EVOO from all over the globe.
The Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 Mission Classic olive oil is currently being studied in athletes. In Athens, Greece, clinical trials measuring antioxidative effects and fatigue resistance in long distance athletes were suspended due to Covid-19. It is uncertain as of this writing whether these tests have resumed.
Another important point that Darro was kind enough to share with me is that UC Davis, which is one of the premier agricultural schools in the world, did some important research in 2010 and 2011. At that time, they purchased Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) samples from California grocery stores and analyzed all of these samples and then also sent the same samples to a laboratory in Australia for analysis. In the 2010 samples analyzed, 69% of the EVOOs were found to not be Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In the 2011 samples, 73% of the samples did not qualify as EVOO!. Therefore, there was a lot of olive oil fraud taking place. As recently as a couple of years ago, the six largest olive oil companies in Italy were indicted. Also, the researchers from UC Davis found that the polyphenol content of many of the olive oils studied were quite low with an average polyphenol content of only 222 mg/kg. By comparison, the average polyphenol content of Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 is much higher. For example, their current Mission Classic olive oil has a polyphenol content of 605 mg/kg!
So, once I found out about Berkeley Olive Grove 1913, what did I do? I placed an order for their Mission Classic Olive Oil. It arrived in perfect condition as they ship it very carefully in beautiful dark glass bottles. The entire presentation from the outside of the cardboard box the bottles came in to everything within the box was very tastefully done. Their labels are gorgeous to look at. Truly, opening the box feels like a very special occasion in and of itself. I took photos of the bottles and then carefully stowed them away in a refrigerator where I can maintain the temperature between 55- 65 degrees F which Darro advised will keep them in optimum condition.
Then, what did we do? We opened one bottle and had our very first experience of the best olive oil in the world!!! At this point, I had not seen Olivia’s video on how to experience olive oil (which I have now watched, so I am going to practice what she recommends doing 😊), but my husband, Ron, and I both agreed that this was the strongest olive oil we have ever had! You could taste the bitterness and then the pepperiness for sure! But we did not mind it because we know that those strong tastes come from the beneficial polyphenols. We can take it straight by the teaspoonful! So, this is now part of our daily health regimen and I hope to always be able to buy Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 olive oil as it is the ONLY high phenolic, organic, traditionally farmed, made-in-the-USA olive oil originally sourced from the trees the Spanish Missionaries brought to the Americas in the 1700’s. WOW! There is no going back to anything of lesser quality. I am sure every cell in our bodies is very thankful for this gift of health!
Please check out Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 today.
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