OLIVE OIL HISTORY
People have been harvesting olives for thousands of years – long before recorded history.
The first evidence of cultivated olive trees go back over 6,000 years ago in the Middle East, where initially olive oil had multiple uses, such as: ointment for skin, oil for lamps, and medicinal treatments as well.
Inventory logs carried by ancient trading ships contain the first written records of olive oil, which was transported through the Mediterranean area from one port to another.
The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi introduced olive oil into law by regulating its production and trade.
The Roman Empire expands its civilization throughout southern Europe, bringing with it olive trees to all conquered territories. As an important commodity, the Romans made many improvements in olive tree cultivation, oil extraction and storage – and valued olive oil to such an extent that it was even accepted as payment for taxes.
The decline of the Roman Empire in 500 A.D. brought with it a decrease in olive cultivation, thus limiting olive oil production to certain regions.
Olive groves begin to flourish once again, particularly in Italy, thanks to the merchant class who discovered that selling olive oil in local markets was an important source of income. During this time, Tuscany becomes a renowned region for the cultivation of olive trees.
During the Renaissance Italy becomes the largest producer of olive oil in the world, renowned for its rich and flavourful oils that graced the tables of nobles and royalty throughout Europe.
Olive oil makes its commercial debut in the Americas as Italian and Greek immigrants demand its import from Europe.
Olive oil continues to grow in popularity as an important ingredient in everyday cuisines, in virtually every culture thanks to its proven health benefits and nutritional properties.
As a result of its ongoing success, there are now more than 800 million olive trees in the world today, with more being planted every day!