Many traditional olive oil producing countries have been suffering from a plant disease spread by a sap-sucking insects. They have been devastating olive and fruit orchards across southern Europe. Xyella Fastidosa is a the technical term for this disease.
Health conscious food lovers are constantly seeking the best olive oil in the world. Whether this is olive oil for cooking, olive oil for health and wellness or for olive oil uses such as for hair or beauty treatments.
But where can you be sure to find the best extra virgin olive oil?
In the late summer harvest of 2013, olive farmers in the Puglia region of southern Italy noticed that the leaves on several of their trees were turning brown and their shoots withering. The problem spread from one orchard to another, as more olive farmers found their trees were drying out and beginning to die.
Genetic testing confirmed xyella fastidiosa present, a bacteria originally found in America. Soon outbreaks appeared throughout the Mediterranean, even briefly as far north as Germany in 2016.
Two sap-sucking insects known as spittlebugs and sharpshooters spread the disease. As the insects feed, the bacteria is able to infect the vessels that transport water and nutrients around the plant, known as the xylem. As the bacteria destroy the xylem, it slowly chokes the plant.
‘We are dealing with a very severe situation in southern Italy,’ said Dr Maria Saponari, based at the Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection in Bari, Italy. Europe’s researchers were caught off-guard by the epidemic, she explained. ‘When the bacterium was discovered here, there wasn’t any research centre in Europe working specifically on this pathogen. We were starting from zero.’
The disease can infect a wide range of plants, including shrubs like the myrtle-leaf milkwort and rosemary, oak trees, and important crops like lavender. Cherry, plum and olive tree are at high risk.
In particular, the outbreak has amplified problems in Italy’s strained olive oil sector. In 2018, the country reported a 57% drop in its olive harvest compared to 2017 – a 25-year low. Researchers blamed a frosty spring followed by a summer drought. This weakened the olive trees and left them even more susceptible to infection.
Olive Oil Produced In Morocco
Morocco is a country of rich geographical and cultural diversity. It is also a country undergoing major transformation. Celebrating it’s rich heritage, whilst modernising key sectors of it’s economy. This includes it’s thriving agricultural sector. A key part of which is olive cultivation and the production of olive oil.
While olive cultivation has been part of Morocco’s agricultural scene since the Roman era. And Morocco is the world’s sixth largest producer of olive oil. Unbelievably, the quality and compositional peculiarities of Moroccan olive oil have been relatively unknown.
Morocco is the fourth largest producer of olive oil in the world of which a significant quantity is now sold to the countries that are being impacted by the xyella virus and blended into their locally produced olive oils to make up the shortfall in harvest. This is unbeknown to the customers in these countries and in their export markets.
However, in Morocco, olive oil production and olive oil quality have not been affected by the zyella bacterium.
What Makes Moroccan The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Morocco has the ideal climate for olive cultivation – mild winters, and warm, dry summers. The soils in the main olive growing regions near Taounate, Taza, Fez, Meknes, Beni Mellal, and Marrakech are rich and deep, and generally have an equal balance of clay and coarse sands.
For instance, the climate is also slightly harsher than in other olive oil producing countries. Morocco Gold olives are grown in a valley that is about 2,000 feet above sea level. This helps to create the additional climatic challenges that encourage polyphenol uptake within the olive tree. It is also an area with naturally occurring high phenols in the soil itself.
So Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Healthy?
There are a number of different types of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil, including oleuropein, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, oleocanthal and oleacein. Each are considered extremely strong antioxidants, and are linked to a number of extra virgin olive oil benefits including:
- Maintenance of normal blood pressure
- Keeping the upper respiratory tract healthy
- Protecting proteins in the brain that are involved in memory, learning and thinking
- Helping to keep blood sugar under control
- Treating the symptoms of and/or preventing type 2 diabetes
- Protecting blood lipids from oxidative damage
- Acting as an anti-inflamatory
About Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In addition, Morocco Gold is a superior quality, single estate extra virgin olive oil from an entirely new source for the UK market. The oil is made from olives grown in the foothills of the Atlas mountains in Morocco, where the unique micro-climate and geology provides ideal conditions for olive growing.
Morocco Gold combines centuries of local cultivation and harvesting knowledge. Our rigorous traceability and quality assurance procedures bring this unique oil to international markets.
The oil produced from the Picholine Marocaine cultivar is distinctive. Similarly, this gives Morocco Gold it’s distinctive green fruitiness, hints of sweet almonds, fresh turf and a hint of herbs. It has the distinctive ‘pepperiness’ of a fine extra virgin olive oil giving Morocco Gold a clean, well balanced finish.
In summary extra virgin olive oil has a high concentration of polyphenols. This gives Morocco Gold it’s oxidative stability that not only extends shelf-life but also provides the health enhancing properties associated with high quality extra virgin olive oils. The European Food Safety Agency has now approved health claims for extra virgin olive oil with a polyphenol content of more than 250mg / kg. Our test results consistently show polyphenol content well above this level.