In recent times, High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil has captured considerable attention and gained a notable following throughout the world seemingly catching up with what the ancients and those raised among Mediterranean olive groves—blessed to have a fresh yearly supply of mindfully-produced EVOO always on their tables—have known throughout the generations: High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best fats that human beings can consume.
What has to be remembered is that it isn’t new. High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil has always been produced in small amounts by farmers who knew that to pick a certain number of their olive drupes when they were small and vital and still growing produced something extra special: an oil that was as potent and robust as the young olives from which it was born. Though not formally labeled as High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it was known as “young or unripe oil,” representing the cream of the crop. Yet, its production was far from economical. The yield of this first batch, culled from youthful olives, paled in comparison to the harvest garnered when the olives matured. As a result, its availability was restricted.
It is a fact that village woman in Mediterranean lands would demand of their farmer husbands some of that special oil each year. Recognizing its remarkable flavor profile, they were equally cognizant of its medicinal virtues. It wasn’t merely reserved as a remedy for illness, but rather, a daily elixir to bolster health and vitality. The narrative underscores the fact that High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is no mere ornament; it is most potent when consumed as close to the harvest date as possible, and designed to fortify the body’s defenses.
James’ father, Dr. George, has retold how no one in their family was ever sick. To quote him, “My parents never had to buy medicines for any of their four children, nor for themselves. Never. Not in all the years that the family grew together.” Sure, DNA probably had something to do with that. They seemed to have been a strong lot (James dear grandmother—yiayia—lived to be 103 years old!). But then, was it just DNA or the foods they ate and the life they lived?
Now you might say, “Oh, they grew up in a village surrounded by olive groves, clean air and outdoor living.” Actually, they didn’t. James’ grandfather—Papoo—was a lawyer, a judge and governor and they called a charming Athenian suburb home. However, in remembrance of that time, a snapshot from the 1950s and 60s city life emerges, an era when even the urban landscape couldn't suppress a connection to the earth; chickens were tended for fresh eggs, a daily supply of goat’s milk was secured from a goat herder who’d come around the neighborhood every day selling milk, and of course, oil from the most recent harvest was always on hand.
But James’ grandmother did always take her four children to the village every summer to play and swim and have adventures. But, an even more important annual tradition loomed larger. She and James’ papoo would make a trek each fall—a pilgrimage—for the olive harvest. They would arrive in their village early to produce a modest batch of the coveted young oil for friends and family.
That young oil—High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil—is now something that, due to much improved methods of shipping can now belong to every person in every corner of the globe. It isn’t just for those who hail from lands surrounded by miles and miles of lovely silver-tipped olive groves, but for every human being. But it still needs farmers who are brave enough to risk lower yield to make it available. To produce it is not for the faint of heart; not where olive oil and business is concerned.
The ascent of information technology emerges as the reason why so many people now know about this so-called super food. The proverbial cat was let out of the bag, so to speak (a metaphor this writer can’t help but ponder, sharing life with three amazing cats). The internet with all its rapid wonders—Amazon, blogs, vlogs, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, etc.— have served as the megaphone for this delectable, health-enhancing, and time-honored food.
It wasn’t a food that was exactly hidden from the world; it has shown up repeatedly in ancient text (Hesiod), ancient shopping lists (Linear B Tablets), works of adventure (Homer), The Bible, archeological digs, art work, etc.. However, until just recently, obtaining the young oil made from unripe olives—High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil—was not only challenging on many levels, but people also didn't fully grasp its remarkable health benefits.
But then science stepped in. Scientific research—something modern man particularly trusts—has combined with the above mentioned modern-day quick shipping methods and information technology to make it so that people everywhere can enjoy not only the delights of this flavorful food—a spice in and of itself—but its numerous health benefits.
So, what is it about High-Phenolic Extra Virgin Olive Oil? It’s downright good for you and your family. And now, because there are some brave producers “out there” making it for you, it is quite easy to obtain, no matter where you live.