Artisan or Commercialized Olive Oil? Why Your Choice Matters!

Olive Oil -  Its Value in Ancient Times 

Throughout history, olive oil has always been held in high esteem, viewed as precious and as a most valuable resource that was often used as currency! Over 6,000 years ago, the bible book of Exodus referred to a holy anointing oil used to anoint kings, which was made of very precious ingredients, such as myrrh and olive oil. Throughout the centuries, we find instances of olive oil being used for medicinal purposes, preparing special dishes, as a favored hair and beauty treatment of the nobles, and even as a remedy for dry skin and other ailments.

Archeological remains of olive oil mills have been unearthed in Greece and date back at least 5,000 years! One thing is certain, olive oil was always regarded as a highly valued resource that required strenuous work to produce and was often out of reach of the commoners and therefore a prized possession of merchants, nobles and even royalty!

Olive Oil - Its Value Today

In more recent history, the production of olive oil has become streamlined, automated and commercial. Like most items in our food chain, margins, profits and greed have reduced a once valuable, precious and healing oil into a sad replica of what true olive oil was meant to be! This commercialization of Olive Oil and the exhausting race towards lowering production cost in order to obtain the best possible profit margins have almost destroyed the millennial old art of producing the real, precious and pure olive oil nectar that is not only good for healing our health and body but also awakens our dishes with bursts of flavor!

Commercialized Olive Tree Plantations VS Small Artisan Farmers

A mere 100 years ago, every olive grove was tended to and cured by experienced farmers who had inherited the art of caring and nurturing olive trees from their fathers and forefathers.  This expertise that these humble, hardworking men inherited made them masters at nurturing their trees, protecting them from harmful bugs, recognizing when their crops had reached the perfect level of maturity and how they should press the olives in order to extract the best quality nectar. Unfortunately, this masterful craft is a dying breed today!



Huge olive tree plantations are becoming the new norm throughout the world. The trees are planted in perfect positions to allow for automated pruning, fertilizing and harvesting done by polluting machines. Gone is the human touch. The trees are not assessed for individual needs or ripeness. At harvest time, all the trees are harvested at the same time within days of each other, by big machines that ingest everything in its path day and night. The whole process is done with a mechanical calculation without regard to protecting the trees, the surrounding ecosystem, or the thousands of birds, insects and small animals that are sucked into these machines and become unwilling victims of automation and greed. The Olive Oil Times article of May 22, 2019 wrote that in Andalusia (Spain) alone, an estimated “2.6 million birds are killed each year during the harvest”. The ecological impact caused is catastrophic.  Read the full article here:

Olive Oil Times - Millions of Birds Killed

Commercial plantations spray their trees with a variety of chemicals to protect their investment, not your health. These pesticides all but guarantee that the olives are protected from naturally occurring types of flies that love to feast on olives. Artisan farmers, by using natural bug repellent, don’t have that same guarantee. They risk losing part or even their whole crops to these pesky flies forcing the farmers to remain vigilant and repeatedly use natural remedies to protect their olives. This is a costly and time-consuming practice that could be easily prevented through the use of strong, dangerous pesticides. Of course, this is a compromise that no passionate farmer with integrity is willing to make. It has been assessed that the cost of producing olive oil from large plantations is less than half when compared to the cost of traditional farming practices. With these greatly reduced operating costs and increased profit margins, large commercial plantations are forcing the generational olive tree farmer into history as it becomes impossible to compete with them based on price. 

 Whereas a small, generational farmer can’t compete in price, he can certainly outshine any commercialized plantation when it comes to expertise, ecological sustainability and quality! A seasoned olive farmer instinctively knows how to protect a tree, which branches to trim, which ones to leave. He is humble enough to recognize that nature does not grow and produce on man’s schedule! The farmer knows when his trees need natural fertilizer when they require more irrigation, protection and when the trees are ready for harvesting! A machine rips, shreds and tears at branches and everything in its path and has no regard for nature, timing or the ever-so-perfect eco-balance that surrounds and is part of an olive tree grove! 

In nature, an olive tree requires 15-20 years of nurturing, pruning and watering to reach peak production of olives. Depending on efforts and expertise, the trees can maintain peak production for several decades, but on their own terms! Olive trees produce fruit in 2-year cycles with every second year being a bountiful crop. During the “off” year, olive trees will produce, but the crop will be meager and the olives often smaller, rendering less oil. Eventually, as the tree ages (remembering that olive trees live an average of 300-600 years, but can reach over 1000 years), the amount of olives it produces will begin to dwindle. By no means does this imply that the tree is no longer valuable! Older olive trees produce fewer olives but in general, the olives are of better quality, containing more mature nutrients than olives harvested from a younger tree. What an old olive tree lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality. In a naturally occurring olive grove, the various age of the trees, the cycle of production and quality of the olives all contribute to a well-rounded, balanced olive oil product. This results in an exceptional olive oil, bursting with balanced flavors, high in polyphenols, vitamins and other essential nutrients that our bodies need!

The philosophy of having an olive tree plantation made up of olive trees in various stages of age and production does not fit into the huge, commercialized plantations’ monetizing agenda. In a business model where all that counts is profit margins and being able to produce as much olive oil as cheaply as possible, spending money on nurturing trees that are not at peak production is not in the budget. Also, trees that are pruned, sprayed and harvested mechanically have a lower life/peak production expectancy. Financially, it makes more sense to eradicate trees after a few years of maximum production and replace them with new, producing trees!


Why Should I Choose Artisan Olive Oil?

Even if the quality of the olive oil produced with commercial plantations’ olives was comparable to the one produced by small artisan farmers (which it absolutely isn’t), you should still choose the artisan olive oil! Here is why: 

  •  Small farmers are ecologically sustainable. They nurture the land with a view to sustainability and a dedication to its preservation for generations to come. They consider their land as a precious inheritance to pass on to their children and treat it as a gift!
  • Small farmers fiercely protect the ecosystem. They understand that nature operates with a perfect balance, where every biological lifeform plays its part to protect, pollinate and naturally fertilize their olive tree groves. They value the balance of their natural ecosystem above profit margins
  • Artisan farmers are not responsible for the death of millions of birds, insects and other life forms present in olive groves. By supporting responsible farming, which includes picking olives by hand during the day, you are helping farmers do their part to save our ecosystem, and are contributing to protecting millions of birds and small animals.   
  • By supporting small artisan productions, you help them give back to their own community. The profits support them and their small communities and promote further investments into renewing natural resources and preservation of valuable farmland.
  • You help build a hope for future farming generations by creating an opportunity to earn a fair wage for their hard work, keep their traditions alive and prevent this legendary craftsmanship from becoming extinct.
  • By benefiting your own health! Pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil (such as Papa Vince Extra Virgin Olive Oil) produced in artisan mills with only naturally treated, locally sourced olives, have no comparisons when it comes to flavor, quality and health benefits!

Next time you choose an Extra Virgin Olive Oil, remember that price should never be the determining factor! Instead, choose to support your hard-working, generational farmers who with their grit and determination have proven themselves to be true craftsmen and are passionate about providing you with only the very best, true Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which not only tastes amazing, it’s also good for you.  


How do I know if my Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Artisan?

There are a few indicators that can help you make the right choice: 

  • Price: If it’s cheap, it’s not Artisan. Expect to pay anywhere from 25USD to 45USD for 500ml. Artisan Olive Oil is expensive to produce, bottle, export, market and tax. Want to save money on exceptional olive oil? Consider a harvest tour for your next autumn vacation! Pick your own olives, press them and take home the purest olive oil at a fraction of the cost! Here is one of our favorite tours available

  • Read the Label - like many fine wines on the market that proudly display their vineyards’ location, name and contact information, check your Olive Oil bottle labels for the same information! An artisan olive oil mill will proudly display their name, location, contact information and even what year your olive oil was pressed on their label. They have nothing to hide!

  • It’s OK to Creep on them - Once you find an artisan olive oil you enjoy, do some digging! Most of them will have a website, Facebook/Instagram page and more! Interact with your artisan farmers! Find out when their freshest oil will come to market, what other products they produce (infused olive oils are very common and incredibly delicious), any upcoming promotions or sales they may have and lots of really interesting and educational information about olive oil, sustainable farming, healthy lifestyles and more! You may even be able to purchase from them directly! An excellent example of this is  

Education is truly empowering! It helps us make the right choice when it comes to who we choose to support, what we feed our bodies and how we can do our part to protect the most valuable resources we have! On behalf of all small, artisan farmers worldwide, thank you for making the right choice! 

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