Green gold: organic olive oil

Organic olive oil is the eco-friendly alternative to butter and rapeseed oils

The last three decades have seen a boom in demand for olive oil, and nowhere has benefited more than Italy. One of the oldest foods in the world, olive groves are a familiar sight across the country with a mixture of ancient groves and modern farms producing most of Italy’s oil. But all is not well with olive oil production, with persistent pesticide use causing concern, along with the impact of industrial farming. Then there’s the issue of transporting the oil and the carbon footprint it creates. So what’s better? Olive oil from Italy or local British butter? While organic butter is probably best, the methane produced by dairy cows isn’t doing the environment much good and butter’s calories won’t help your waistline. Back to the olive oil then; a healthier choice for you, and if it’s sustainably produced, for the environment too. Our pick is the oil produced by the 100 percent organic Agricole Monte Castello Estate in Northern Italy

A blend of oils from three old-fashioned olive tree species - Casaliva, Leccino and Pendolino - Monte Castello oil is made from fruit, harvested by hand. The estate’s trees are all over 80 years old and the organic agricultural methods used help to preserve the groves as a habitat for local wildlife. The oil is also handpressed and filtered through muslin, again reducing the environmental impact. The resulting oil has a gorgeous, peppery tang and an intense fruity flavour, and comes in green recycled glass bottles. Organic, handmade and less damaging than the non-organic version, it’s worth paying a litte more for oil you can enjoy with a clear conscience.

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