Sometimes certifications hide meanings we don’t fully understand. It usually happens with obscure acronyms (IGP, COA, APHIS what?), but even super familiar words can sometimes mislead us. One for all, organic.
Organic certifications span from shampoos to meat to fabrics. Not only does each category have its rules, but different countries implement their specific regulations, too. So, what does organic in extra virgin olive oil production mean exactly? We are going to use Vicopisano as an exemplary model in Italy.
Vicopisano oil is 100% Frantoio, the perfect olive variety for these hilly Tuscan groves. Despite being the native cultivar of this area, global warming changed things up, even for the most responsible producers. The olive fruit fly, a phytophagous species whose larvae feed on olives, is now considered a painful reality for this cultivation even in Tuscany. Here comes the eternal dilemma of organic farming: save the crop or resort to more aggressive practices?
During a recent visit to the Vicopisano splendid estate, they told us all about their latest addition to their organic arsenal: kaolinite, a clay mineral often used in cosmetics and ceramics. As a spray, this clay can be applied directly to the olive trees to deter insects and protect the trees from sun-scalds.
Compared to copper – a fertilizer and fungicide allowed in organic farming but potentially harmful to human health – kaolinite does not leave any trace on the olives. Actually, recent studies suggest it enhances the quality of the olives and allows a successful harvest even late in the season. A win-win!
For Vicopisano, kaolinite has proved to be an effective ally for organic olive farming in the past three years. Alongside other sustainable practices, it has allowed the Bovoli family to get beautiful olive harvests and exceptional extra virgin olive oil. Organic farming got the upper hand!