10 Amazing Facts About Olive Oil
We absolutely love olive oil. That's why we wanted to present you with ten amazing facts about olive oil that you probably never knew.
Olive Oil cultivation has a long history. As far back as 8th Millennium BC ancient Neolithic people were collecting wild olives, but according to archaeological evidence olive oil wasn’t actually produced until around 6000BC! That’s still a very, very, long time ago.
The import and trade of olive oil also dates back a long time as olive trees and oil production can be traced back to around 2600BC in the ancient city of Ebla near to the Syrian city of Aleppo. Dynastic Egyptians also imported the oil from Ebla, and other sites in Crete as the olive oil was an important item of commerce, and wealth!
Olive Oil wasn’t just used for food and cooking; in ancient times it was widely used in religious rituals, medicines, fuel for oil lamps, soap-making, and skin care products! You’ll still find it used like this today. In fact, ancient oil presses still exist in the Eastern Mediterranean, with some dating from the Roman period still in use today.
Olive Oil was once recommended as a form of birth control by Aristotle who wrote about applying a mixture of olive oil and either oil of cedar, ointment of lead, or ointment of frankincense to the cervix to prevent pregnancy – obviously we wouldn’t recommend you try this one in this day and age!
With regards to modern production, Spain produces over fifty percent of all olive oil in the world. Italy, Greece, Tunisia, and Morocco produce less than half of Spain's annual total combined! 75% of Spain’s production comes from the region of Andalucía – which is where the La Española Olive Oil company is based! So, if you’re in the area, why don’t you come and visit us some time.
We are considered the oldest olive oil brand in Spain. We took our name in 1840 from the Spanish colony, La Española Island (Haiti and Dominican Republic), which was founded by Christopher Columbus. His son, Hernando Columbus, began olive oil production in the 16th Century at the Hacienda Guzman in Seville and exported it to America. The Guzman factory was the largest olive oil factory of that time in Spain, and the world, and it is still owned by La Española Olive Oil company today!
During it’s long history olive oil has also been used as a natural and safe lubricant, it’s been used to lubricate kitchen machinery such as grinders, blenders, and various forms of cookware, and is still used today.
The olive branch, as a symbol for peace, derives from the history and customs of ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, Athena competed with Poseidon for possession of Athens. Poseidon thrust his trident into the ground and a well of sea-water gushed out. Athena took possession by planting the first olive tree beside the well. The godly court ruled that Athena had won the right to the land because she had given it the better gift. Olive wreaths were worn by brides and awarded to Olympic victors whilst the olive branch is an internationally recognised symbol of peace in the modern world – you’ll find it on coins, flags, police badges, and the seal of the United States.
In fact, you’ll find lot of towns have been named ‘Olive Branch’ as a nod towards peaceful living – eight of them are in America and are all close together in the South-East. Also, some western names such as Oliver are thought to allude to the olive branch.
Perhaps least well known but best of all is the fact that one of the first things the Apollo 11 astronauts did after stepping foot on the moon was to place a golden replica of an olive branch on the surface. It was left there by Neil Armstrong and represented a wish of peace for all mankind.
So, what did you think of these ten amazing facts? Is there anything we missed, or perhaps you have some strange uses or historical facts about olive oil or the olive tree? Let us know at our Facebook or Instagram profiles.