Daily Archives: August 12, 2015

  • Why the Mediterranean diet just may be the most delicious meal plan yet

    Olives and olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh fish and seafood, lean meats, cheese and yogurt and red wine. This may sound like the grocery list for a delicious dinner party (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but these foods are also the staple components of the Mediterranean diet.

    A 2013 observational study conducted by Harvard University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that eating a diet consisting of foods that align with the Mediterranean diet, such as olives and olive oil, are associated with promoting longevity. Data from the study, which looked at female nurses of predominantly European ancestry, suggests that women who adhere to the Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres in their blood cells. Telomeres are DNA sequences that get short when cells divide, so their length is thought to be a measure of a cell’s aging. Because the study design precluded researchers from establishing a temporal association between dietary habits and telomere length; the single-measure test used prevented the estimation of associations between the Mediterranean diet and telomere attrition rate in addition to the telomere dynamics possibly differing among other ethnicities.

    California Ripe Olives, a delicious part of the Mediterranean diet

    Olives, such as California Ripe Olives, are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are as good for you as they taste. Their unique flavor, texture and color make them one of the most versatile ingredients in the pantry, and make a perfect addition to a variety of dishes from appetizers to entrees.

    California Ripe Olives are picked and canned at their peak, making them a delicious way to get a variety of nutrients such as vitamin A (60 IU per serving), vitamin E (.25mg per serving), iron (.49mg per serving) and fiber (.5 grams per serving). Olives, much like olive oil, contain monounsaturated fat – the good fat – which is associated with increased longevity, decreased risk of heart disease, reduced risk of chronic disease, lower blood pressure, and improved brain function.

    Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean with an al fresco California-grown Mediterranean feast

    As you’re looking for unique ways to entertain this summer consider hosting a Mediterranean feast, California style!

    Here are a few tips to put together a delicious Mediterranean-inspired spread that everyone will love, whether or not they follow the Mediterranean diet.

    *Keep it rustic, yet elegant by serving dishes on wooden boards and serving platters family-style. Select earth-toned linens and decorate the table food like lemons, rosemary and other whole fruits and vegetables for a casual and culinary-focused look.

    *Build your meal around the freshest ingredients you can find. Look for fresh in-season fruits like other California crops such as figs, grapes, squash and other fruits and vegetables.

    *Create a Mediterranean-inspired/California Grown cheese board with an array of cheeses, nuts and olives. For a simple Mediterranean-twist on marinated olives, combine black ripe olives with olive oil, lemon zest and herbs.

    *Pair freshly grilled fish with a simple tapenade made with black ripe olives, olive oil, garlic and roasted red bell peppers for savory Mediterranean flair.

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    Olives and olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh fish and seafood, lean meats, cheese and yogurt and red wine. This may sound like the grocery list for a delicious dinner party (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but these foods are also the staple... 
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  • Greek olive oil producer GAEA growing the U.S. market

    A major producer of high-quality olive oil in Greece — GAEA S.A. (pronounced GUY-uh) — has launched a new initiative in South Florida to expand its sales to the United States, the world’s largest importer of olive oil.

    “Greece is one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil, especially authentic, high-quality EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), and GAEA was set up in 1995 to export the country’s olive oil and other food products,” said David Neuman, CEO of GAEA North America, who opened the company’s subsidiary in Hollywood earlier this year.

    GAEA olive oil has been sold in parts of the U.S. for years through one importer, Neuman said, but now the company has established a North America headquarters here to actively expand brand recognition and increase sales.

    In ancient Greek mythology, Gaea was the goddess of the Earth.

    Despite Greece’s current financial and economic crisis, GAEA has been able to continue operating and exporting, and last year sales grew by 20 percent, the company said. In addition to the U.S., the Greek company exports its products to 25 other nations.

    GAEA’s regional offices, a product showroom and olive oil tasting center in Hollywood are open to the public. Wholesale buyers can place their orders there, while local residents are invited to watch presentations and participate in tastings. They can also buy GAEA retail products at the showroom.

    Neuman was previously president and a partner in Lucini Italia’s U.S. branch in Miami, another premium producer of olive oil and consumer foods. Aside from his position at Lucini, Neuman is a food industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience. He is a master taster of EVOO, certified by a prestigious school for olive oil tasters in Italy called the ONAOO, and has given his “Olive Oil 101” class to more than 1,000 food industry professionals and consumers.

    He points out that olive oil is as complicated as wine, with about 900 olive varieties used to make olive oil (there are other varieties for eating and plopping into martinis). There are differences in taste, quality and other characteristics related to the countries and regions where olives are grown, different procedures for harvesting and processing olives into olive oil and strict standards for classifying olive oil into four categories: EVOO (the highest quality and most expensive), virgin, pure and lampante, the worst quality, used as fuel for lamps in the past and not fit for human consumption.

    GAEA’s top EVOO, for example, costs $17.99 retail for a 17 fluid ounce bottle, while its “100 percent Greek,” a more economical combination of quality Greek olive oils, retails for $9.99.

    One important factor, also used in the wine industry, is PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), an international term that identifies the precise geographical origin of a particular EVOO. This designation promotes and protects the quality of regional agricultural products. Of the nine varieties of olive oil GAEA sells in the U.S., four carry the PDO stamp.

    Since taking over GAEA’s North America division, Neuman has lined up new distributors in the U.S. for GAEA and travels constantly to talk about olive oil in general, and GAEA in particular.

    GAEA already sells its products to Costco in northern California, Whole Foods stores in New England and Fairway Markets in New York City.

    Consumers can buy GAEA products at the company’s Hollywood offices, but they are not yet available at retail stores in Florida. Neuman explained that retail chains like Publix, Whole Foods and Winn-Dixie typically review new products offered by companies like GAEA on a regional basis at the beginning of each year. And since GAEA opened its North America offices on March 1, it missed the 2015 evaluation and buying cycle and will have to pitch its product line in Florida and other U.S. markets in 2016.

    While Neuman is working to increase GAEA sales in the region, he spends much of his time telling people about the complexities of olive oil and warning about the widespread sale of olive oil labelled as EVOO that is actually lower quality oil.

    “My most important job is to educate consumers, chefs and buyers (at retail and wholesale chains) about EVOO and to teach people how to taste and evaluate EVOO,” he said.

    “Most consumers don’t taste olive oil before buying. At the market, you can tell when meat and fish are not fresh, but you can’t see or smell olive oil. As much as 70 percent of olive oil labeled as EVOO and sold in the U.S. is not EVOO and is made from poor quality olive oil or a blend of EVOO and lower quality product.”

    This is not just Neuman’s opinion. Articles in olive oil industry trade publications frequently warn about this problem. Olive oil sold in the U.S. and other countries may come from poor quality or damaged olives or may not have been processed according to industry standards. Also, olive oil does not last forever and can be degraded by exposure to heat (keeping a bottle next to the stove) and light. An open bottle will usually degrade after three months, he said, and some stores keep olive oil in the warehouse or on the shelves for months, which can degrade the oil and affect its taste. GAEA olive oil is sold in black or dark-colored bottles to protect against light.

    “My mission is to educate people about olive oil,” Neuman said.

    Why did GAEA choose Hollywood for its North America headquarters, when other imported brands typically choose a big city like New York?

    “Downtown Hollywood is an exciting place within the Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area,” Neuman said.

    “We believe that our office can function as a place of business for our administrative needs, as well as a tasting room and small gourmet shop for passers-by. It allows us to interact with consumers seeking to learn more about how to buy Greek olive oil.”

    Business: GAEA North America is a subsidiary of GAEA Products S.A., a company based in Athens, Greece, that was set up to produce and export high-quality, additive-free Greek olive oil and other food products. The parent company today is a major producer and exporter of Greek extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), as well as olives and other olive-based food products. Despite the ongoing Greek financial crisis, GAEA was able to continue operating and posted 20 percent growth in sales last year, the company said, thanks to export revenues. GAEA North America imports and sells nine varieties of its branded Greek olive oil, plus an assortment of olives, olive snack packs, olive-based sauces, spreads and tapenades. The North America unit is responsible for expanding GAEA’s sales in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

    Founded: GAEA was founded in Athens, Greece, in 1995.

    Corporate headquarters: Athens.
    North America headquarters: 1915 Hollywood Blvd.,Hollywood.
    Corporate CEO: Aris Kefalogiannis.
    CEO for North America: David Neuman.

    Employees: 52 direct employees in Greece. Independent farmers and agricultural cooperatives in Greece are contracted to supply the company with olives. The Hollywood office has four employees.

    Customers: GAEA sells to distributors in the U.S. who in turn sell to retail markets, including supermarkets, specialty food stores and restaurants. Aside from the U.S., GAEA exports to 25 countries in Europe and is working to expand its international reach. Exports account for most of the company’s sales.

    Ownership: Privately owned by the CEO and over 60 others, including employees and importers of GAEA

    products.

    Website: The company’s former website (www.gaea.gr) recently was taken down to make improvements and is currently under construction. For product information: info@gaeaus.com.

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    A major producer of high-quality olive oil in Greece — GAEA S.A. (pronounced GUY-uh) — has launched a new initiative in South Florida to expand its sales to the United States, the world’s largest importer of olive oil. “Greece is one of the world’s largest producers... 
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  • Olive oil leads Greek export growth in June, while imports fall

    Greek exports excluding oil products recorded remarkable growth of 18 percent in June, according to data published on Friday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

    However, this rise came about before capital controls were introduced on June 28, and it is therefore likely that the picture will have changed considerably in July, as exporters are already speaking of a major decline in outgoing commodities.

    ELSTAT figures showed that the total value of exports including fuel products came to 2.23 billion euros, against 2.50 billion in July 2014 – representing an annual decline of 10.7 percent – but when oil products are excluded there was an increase of 250.3 million euros from a year earlier. This is because of the 45.2 percent drop in oil product exports in June. Almost all other export categories posted growth of at least 10 percent.

    Exporters’ data show that the biggest increase in percentage terms was for olive oil and other forms of cooking oil, amounting to 174.3 percent, with tobacco and alcohol products reporting a 41.8 percent rise and machinery exports expanding by 28.7 percent.

    Imports recorded a decline in June that the market expects to have accelerated considerably in July (possibly by up to 50 percent) due to the capital controls. The total value of imports in June came to 3.7 billion euros from 4.21 billion a year earlier, posting an annual contraction of 12 percent. When oil products are excluded, though, the decline amounts to just 2.9 percent.

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    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    Greek exports excluding oil products recorded remarkable growth of 18 percent in June, according to data published on Friday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). However, this rise came about before capital controls were introduced on June 28, and it is therefore likely... 
    Read More →