What Is Organic Olive Oil? Is It a Better Option?

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Organic foods have become extremely popular in the past few years. But what’s the situation with olive oil?

In this post, I’ll show you the main benefits of organic olive oil and show you if it’s worth spending a few more bucks per bottle and buying organic olive oil instead of non-organic oils.

Key Takeaways:

  • Organic olive oil is made without pesticides or herbicides, using natural fertilization.
  • Typically sold as “Extra virgin,” indicating high quality, with more nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Slightly better for reducing heart diseases and improving cholesterol than non-organic.
  • More expensive due to environmentally friendly production methods.
  • Certified with labels like PDO and PGI, ensuring authenticity and quality.

What Is Organic Olive Oil?

bottle of organic olive oil, illustration

When we talk about ecological, organic olive oil, we consider the best environmental practices that adjust to the possibilities of the land. Organic olive oil comes from organically grown and certified olives that are cultivated differently than traditional ones.

During cultivation, no pesticides or herbicides are allowed to be used to help the growth. Olive trees go through the process of natural fertilization, which means that people use compost or manure fertilizers.

It is produced by cold pressing with natural and simple methods. Firstly, olives must be washed and crushed. After that, we get “olive paste.” Next happens the extraction of excess water and oil using a centrifuge and spun. Mostly, organic olive oil is sold as “Extra virgin” olive oil. That marks the highest quality on the market.

Organic certifying process documents guarantee customers that growers didn’t use any chemicals on their trees. On the label of every package of olive oil, there must be the word BIO or ORGANIC to provide organic farming. Organic olive oil presents quality, flavor, and health.

Dr. Mercola Solspring Biodynamic Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Pack of 2), 16.90 F. Oz. per...
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Some of the best organic oils on the market are Dr. Mercola Byodinamic Olive Oil, Mas Tarrés, Oro del Desierto, Rincón de la Subbética, and Cortijo de Suerte Alta.

Differences Between Organic and Non-Organic Olive Oil

AspectOrganic Olive OilNon-Organic Olive Oil
Production MethodProduced organically, without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers.May use synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers in production.
Nutrient and Antioxidant ContentProvides the best nutrients and antioxidants, offering the purest and highest quality oil.May have slightly lower nutrient content due to refining processes.
Flavor and ColorTypically has more natural variation in flavor and color, influenced by olive type, ripeness, and harvest time.May be lighter in color, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate lower quality.
Olive Tree TreatmentRelies on the natural resistance of olive trees, minimizing the use of pesticides and chemicals.Often utilizes pesticides and chemical fertilizers to boost olive yield.
PriceGenerally more expensive, with prices ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars per bottle.It may be lighter in color, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate lower quality.
Organic vs non-organic olive oil comparison

In order for olive oil to be considered organic, it must be produced organically. There are three main differences between organic and non-organic olive oil: using pesticides, using herbicides, and fertilization.

Organic olive oil provides the best nutrients and antioxidants, bringing the purest and highest quality oil to your body and cells. Because it’s completely unrefined, organic olive oil has more natural variation than regular olive oil. That means that the olives have original color, flavor, and more.

When we talk about colors, it is important to emphasize that the olive oil color can be from light yellow to dark green, but it doesn’t indicate its quality. That depends on the time of harvesting, the type of the olives, and how ripe they are, on the other side, some producers say that pure (non-organic) olive oil will be lighter.

Olive trees are naturally resistant, so they often don’t need pesticides and chemical fertilizers. However, these pesticides and chemical fertilizers may improve the olive yield, and that’s why most non-organic olive orchards use them.

Organic and non-organic olive oil often can be almost identical in quality but different in price. Organic olive oil is far more expensive than regular oil. The cost of organic olive oil varies from a few tens of dollars to even a hundred dollars.

Is Organic Olive Oil Better?

bottle of organic olive oil

Although organic olive oil is produced in a more natural way, organoleptic characteristics are not so different. When olives are collected at the right time and have quality, there are no significant differences between organic and non-organic olive oil.

If you are asking yourself, are there any advantages to consuming organic olive oil over the other one, we think there are.

The positive sides of organic olive oil are:

  1. Quality certification – The oils are tested to ensure that they meet Phytochemical standards set by the International Olive Council to provide purity and quality.
  2. It’s better for the environment – Organic farming is considered to be a way better alternative for food production. The lack of pesticides enhances biodiversity and reduces pollution.
  3. Antioxidants and bioactive compounds found in olives are preserved in extra virgin olive oil – The main antioxidants are phenol alcohols and acids, secoiridoids, lignans, and flavones. With all of them, organic olive oil can have a prolonged shelf-life and exhibit healthy properties for people.

When we talk about health benefits between the two of them, organic olive oil is slightly better at reducing heart diseases, improving hair and skin health, improving cholesterol levels, protecting against diabetes, boosting metabolism, and many more.

But is it worth giving some extra money to have non-organic olive oil? It definitely depends on how much you really wish to eat organically. The differences in price are reasonably large because of the way of production.

How To Recognize Organic Olive Oil

Consumers want an excellent agricultural product, which leads us to certification labels. The European Commission enforces two types of certification: protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI). Olive oil, which is typically a great valued agricultural product, is included in PDO/ PGI labeling.

To buy the best quality organic olive oil, you should:

  • Identify the right type of olive oil – it’s always good to double-check the labels to be sure that you will get an authentic, organic product.
  • The second thing you should always do is to read a list of ingredients, which should always tell you the location of the olives that the oil is made of.
  • The last but not less important thing to do is search for quality certification.

When it comes to recognition, the bad thing is that you can’t spot differences in taste, odor, and color. For that reason, Control Institutes must verify production processes that must be the same as regulations.

Countries of the Mediterranean basin are responsible for 98% of globally produced olive oil; it is, therefore, plausible that these countries have registered the largest number of PDO/PGI olive oils.

Geographical regions producing PDO/PGI olive oils are Greece, France, Portugal, and Italy. Consumers are willing to pay a premium in order to buy high-quality olive oil, but there is a lack of knowledge about how this quality is expressed and what PDO/PGI and “organic” certification labels stand for.

As a result of consumer misunderstanding about certification labels and the confusion surrounding the different qualities of olive oil that are being sold, it’s really important for information to be provided by local authorities and be available for olive oil consumers.

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