Two Spanish entrepreneurs base the premium quality of their olive oil on a maximum respect for the olive tree and its surroundings
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Ecolibor from Extremadura
Ecolibor is the personal project of Olga Jiménez and Julio César Gallego, who have put their backgrounds in forest and telecommunications engineering, and their expertise in olive cultivation to good use for a project that brings together gastronomy and nature: an organic EVOO that respects the highest standards with regard to the conservation of its olive trees and their surroundings. And, if this weren't enough, the oil's extremely elevated levels of polyphenols makes it one of the healthiest options in today's market. The three keys to this product are the following: flavors and aromas that have been endorsed by the world's most prestigious olive oil competitions, scientifically-proven nutritional benefits resulting from its high polyphenolic content, and a complete absence of any class of herbicides or pesticides.
What made you decide to make an organic product from the very beginning?
The olive trees that produce our EVOO Ecolibor are located in the area of Los Ibores (Extremadura, western Spain), which forms part of the Natura 2000 network and is a special sanctuary for birds. The environment here is in an optimum state of conservation, as it is one of the last strongholds of intact Mediterranean forest in Europe, and boasts an incalculably important diversity of flora and fauna.
Given these conditions, the use of chemical products seemed completely unacceptable to us. Additionally, we have always tried to be consistent in terms of our principles and, as consumers of organic products, how could we ever produce an oil with chemical residues?
How do you define the concept of sustainability at Ecolibor? Do you think that international consumers are attuned to it?
International consumers are more and more aware of production systems, and concerned about the impact of our actions on nature. They are increasingly more conscious of the fragility of our planet, and understand that the way that we obtain food should guarantee a better future for all of us, as well as for future generations. The idea of the Earth as the Mother and giver of life, is continuing to spread throughout all cultures. We are clear on the issue: we can't mistreat someone who provides for us, our planet.
What differentiates your EVOO from others found in today's market?
Without a doubt, the most differentiating thing about Ecolibor with regard to other EVOOs on the market are, apart from its singular aromas and flavors, its exceptional health properties, evidence of which has been scientifically proven with regard to its extremely high level of polyphenols (2,077 mg/kg). Additionally, our organic certification provides consumers with the guarantee that our product does not contain any residues from the chemical products that are used in the production of conventional EVOOs.
Ecolibor was analyzed scientifically in the years 2015 and 2016 by the Pharmacy Department of the University of Athens, and compared with the results of more than 2,500 olive oil samples from thirty different varieties of olives from different countries. The results speak for themselves:
The concentrations of Oleocanthal and Oleacein in Ecolibor are more than three times higher than the average levels found in the commercially available olive oils that were included in the international study carried out by the University of California, Davis.
Furthermore, the amount of total polyphenols present in our olive oil – in excess of 2,000 mg/kg – boast an important level of biological activity and have been associated with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, cardioprotective and neuroprotective activities.
These surprising scientific results make it possible for us to guarantee that a daily consumption of 20 g of Ecolibor provides more than eight times the minimum quantity of polyphenols needed to protect blood lipids from oxidative damage, in accordance with European Union Regulation 432/2013.
What significance do you place on the international awards that your EVOO has received?
Our production trajectory goes back to 1998. We have spent nearly twenty years seeking excellence in our work. We had never considered entering in national or international contests because we were aware of the competition and the exceptional qualities of both Spanish and foreign olive oils.
Our constant drive to improve has led to our use of the latest extraction technologies, as well as moving up the harvest dates and submitting the final product to continuous analysis of its quality parameters.
This is what gave us the confidence to dare to compete against the best. These recognitions (BIOL, Ecotrama, Salud & Deleite) are very important to us as some of them, in addition to being measured by the parameters of tasting, are also based on objective parameters relating to laboratory analyses. Additionally, the juries are comprised of panels of professional tasters who endorse the results. The latest recognition came in March of 2017 at LOOC 2017 in London, where we received double gold medals in the competition in the category of "Health Claim". We are extremely satisfied with the results.
Our two products, a single-variety Cornicabra oil and a blend of Cornicabra and Manzanilla olives, were awarded for both their flavor and their quality parameters. Each of them appeals to a different taste preference. Manzanilla lends the oil a softer quality and intense fruitiness, while Cornicabra manifests the complete potential of the olive oil and the elevated polyphenolic levels.
Does your product reflect any particular landscape from your surroundings? What connection to the environment are you trying to capture with your oil?
Ecolibor aims to be a reference in terms of good production practices: to demonstrate that the conservation of the environment should not only be a label, but also a guarantee of the purity of the final product and the preservation of the surroundings. Someone who tries and smells our olive oil will never be indifferent to it. The intense floral aroma and spectacular flavor transport your senses to a landscape of aromatic herbs and exceptionality pure surroundings.
The oil can be combined with any type of food, and it is particularly interesting when used with sweets. Its characteristic bite and bitterness stem from its extremely high level of polyphenols.
It improves and enriches the flavor of any dish or food that it is paired with, regardless of whether it is cooked or raw.
Have you had any experience with exporting this product? In which countries?
Ecolibor has been very successful in Japan, where the market is extremely demanding and seeks excellence; which is why we had an immediate connection. Our customers visited our farm, recorded a story about it for television in their country, and audiences were fascinated by the surroundings and characteristics of the product. Their confidence in us during the early years has helped us to maintain firm with regard to our commitment to the maximum level of excellence. Ecolibor hopes to find recognition and appreciation in other export markets like the United Kingdom and the United States.