The history of olive oil

Olives, one of the oldest known products, supposedly appeared in Crete or Syria between 5000-7000 years ago. Since ancient times, the olive tree has provided people with food, fuel, wood and medicine for many civilizations, its branch has been regarded as a symbol of peace and wisdom. Olive fruit oil has been consumed in food since about 3000 BC. It is not clear exactly how olive trees got to the USA, but it is known that much later than in Europe. In the 1500s-1700s, the Spanish colonizers of North America definitely transported olive trees across the Atlantic Ocean. Some may have been brought directly to the region that is now California. Olive trees may also have come to the United States from Mexico, where Spanish cultivation was already in full swing. Olive oil has been and still is a staple in the diet of many Mediterranean countries. The recent discovery that a Mediterranean diet may be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease has made olive oil extremely popular in the United States. Today, most commercial olive oil cultivation is still concentrated in the Mediterranean region in countries such as Spain (36% of total production), Italy (25%) and Greece (18%). These countries, along with the remaining European countries, consume approximately two—thirds of all olive oil that is produced. Areas of the world with rapidly increasing consumption and production of olive oil include South America (especially Chile) and Australia.