Food Stuff

Illustration By Marianne Mancina

California olive oil usually is priced and marketed as a premium product, because relatively high labor costs put the state at a disadvantage with international competitors. The , located on 700 acres in Oroville, is seeking to revolutionize the state’s olive-oil industry. The ranch has adopted the use of high-density planting of semi-dwarf Spanish olive trees that can be harvested entirely by machine. Once harvested, the olives are taken immediately to the processing facility on the site. One of the ranch’s Arbequina olive oils, marketed as “Trader Joe’s Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil,” is a real bargain. The oil is made from early-harvest olives and is bottled unfiltered. It has the aroma of freshly mown grass, a silky texture on the palate and a slight peppery finish in the back of the throat. At $4.99 for a 500-milliliter bottle, it is a premium California oil sold for less than half the cost of the competition.