Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Health
Grown in California, enjoyed by families everywhere.
The Aguiar and Silveira Family
That slogan has varied through the years but it touts a single important fact: California is the only state where olives are grown. California agriculture includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables, grains and more but a particular pride surrounds olive growing unique to the area.
The California Olive Committee offers an official history of olives in California that traces their literal roots back to the San Diego Mission where cuttings were planted in 1769. Franciscan monks in northern Mexico used olives in their cuisine, traditional dishes adapted from old world traditions based in Spain and Morocco.
California's tropical climate proved ideal for the cultivation of olives, a standout ingredient in a variety of recipes from around the world.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF OLIVES
Nutritionists have long touted the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, of which olives are an important part. They also fit with paleo, keto, low-carb and other specialty diets. The cardiovascular benefits of olive consumption is often associated with the use of olive oil, which is often a staple of these diets too. Fiber is also an added benefit, along with lowering blood sugar.
Olives are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which lower LDL, known as bad cholesterol, while helping maintain HDL, good cholesterol. Nutritionists recognize their role in cardiovascular health, as they positively correlate with lower blood pressure and reductions in the inflammation that causes heart disease, especially when consuming olive oil or a low sodium version of the fruit.
As a rich source of antioxidants, olives have also been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers by protecting cellular DNA.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have published multiple studies about the benefits of polyphenols, which also reduce inflammation, and help prevent bone fractures. Olives not only offer that unique compound, but also vitamin E, which benefits brain health and has even been associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease according to the NIH.
Making olives part of your daily diet is a healthy habit and an ideal choice for snacks, side dishes, and more. Find olive recipes online at https://calolive.org/recipes/.
PRIDE IN CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURE: Olive Grower Mike Silveira
The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists California as a primary producer of olives with about 4% market share worldwide. The olive industry contributed more than $500 million to the state's economy last year, with more than 100,000 tons of olives produced for consumption.
While those statistics are impressive, so are the people behind the industry: local growers, of which there are more than 1,200 in California who dedicate more than 35,000 acres to olive production.
Mike Silveira of Orland grew up on family-owned land where he enjoyed growing plants as a child. From the age of 10, he decided to pursue the family business and started picking olives the same year; it wasn't long before he knew how many olives it takes to fill a box.
That work ethic underscores all that he does on the farm, which has been in the family for nearly a century. Mike's cousin, Jeff Aguiar, also farms nearby. It was their grandfather who emigrated from Portugal to start a new life in California, first with a dairy and later with olives. The family business has grown and changed along with the industry but the natural glory of the land remains.
"I love working with my husband because, at the end of the day, we walk around and enjoy the beauty of our farm and we can enjoy being with each other," said wife Susan Silveira.
Mike now serves as chairman of the California Olive Committee and looks forward to sharing traditions as a multigenerational farmer. "It's a great lifestyle and we're hoping future generations will enjoy it," said Mike.
The family's favorite olive recipe, California Ripe Olive Spicy Bean Layer Dip, is great for Thanksgiving get-togethers or any time you need a delicious snack or appetizer.
The California Olive Committee (COC) is comprised of two canneries and nearly a thousand growers who are responsible for producing 95% of olives grown in the United States. Over 56% of California Ripe Olives are located in Tulare County, while 36% are grown in Sacramento, Glenn, Tehama, and Butte counties. California Ripe Olives are one of two varieties: Manzanillo and Sevillano. These two varieties produce different sizes of olives ranging from small to colossal with harvest beginning in early September and concluding in mid-November. Each California olive is treated with the highest level of care from planting to harvesting by some of the finest stewards of the land.