When it comes to its culinary offerings, there’s no denying Greece is synonymous with olive oil. One of its most well-known and consistent exports – even in times of financial hardship – helping to spread the word to the world is Lisa Radinovsky.
An American based on the island of Crete, when the former English professor was asked to write about Greece’s olive oil industry two years ago, little did she know that it would take her down the path it has.
With little information available on the topic in English at the time, she set out undertaking her own research on the ground, talking with olive farmers, mill workers, exporters, experts, tasters, and cooks.
Realising the vastness of the topic, Radinovsky thought it would be a shame to keep all this information to herself, and so Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil was born.
The first, and only, English-language site focusing on Greek olive oil – its quality, health benefits, and nuances – two years on and she says she is as passionate as ever.
“I have really enjoyed meeting people who work in the Greek olive oil world and learning about what they are doing,” Radinovsky tells Neos Kosmos.
“I have had fascinating conversations in olive oil mills, olive groves, and tasting rooms, hearing all about what goes into olive oil production and considering the varied flavours and aromas of Greek extra virgin olive oils from different olive varieties and regions.”
The site features over 150 articles on news, information, stories, recipes, and photos centred around the olive oil offerings in Greece, and it couldn’t be timelier.
After thousands of years of production, Greece’s olive oil industry is undergoing a renaissance; one that Radinovsky likens to that of Greek wine. She says it goes hand in hand with the scientific recognition of the health benefits of following a traditional Mediterranean diet, such as that consumed in Crete, in which olive oil is the main source of fat.
Thanks to the different microclimates Greece offers, there is great depth in the variety of flavours and aromas resulting in the olive oil produced. With most originating from small family farms, she has observed an increasing number of producers updating versions of traditional farming and harvesting methods with a focus on the education, care, innovation, and effort required to make the tastiest, healthiest extra virgin olive oil, evidenced by the number of local producers winning prestigious awards around the world.
“Greece produces a higher percentage of extra virgin olive oil (compared to its total olive oil production) than any other country in the world, and increasing numbers of Greek producers are making great efforts to produce, bottle, and brand the best possible olive oil. This means that when consumers purchase bottled and branded 100 per cent Greek olive oil, they can expect an excellent flavour and impressive health benefits,” Radinovsky explains.
With Greece making efforts to emerge from its years of financial crisis, local industry and exports such as olive oil have the potential to play a key role in its success.
“I think my website makes a crucial start in what I hope will become a much broader national marketing effort to help Greece compete successfully with other major olive oil producing countries that have far more marketing support behind them,” Radinovsky says.
Currently Greek Liquid Gold reaches readers across 169 countries around the world, and she is on the look out for sponsors and philanthropists interested in assisting her to further “help the Greeks working with the nation’s traditional liquid gold”.
But in the meantime, she says everyone has the chance to contribute to the industry’s growth, and recommends visiting an olive mill next time you’re visiting, to take a tour and have a tasting experience.
“It’s fascinating to see where olive oil comes from and how it is produced, and many mills now share helpful practical information about olive oil types, storage, use, selection, and tasting.”
To find out more, visit greekliquidgold.com