Olive oil: millennial food

L olio di oliva  alimento millenario  1

A leap in history: the origins of the olive tree

The origins of olive oil are lost in the mists of time. The first evidence of the use of oil dates back to 4000 BC, in Armenia and Palestine, but also in India. Olive oil was used as an ointment for the skin, to feed the lamps and taken as a medicine. In 2500 BC the Babylonian code of Hammurabi regulated the production and trade of olive oil, but it was the Greeks who spread olive cultivation in the Mediterranean.

Subsequently the Romans spread the olive tree in all the territories of the Empire and imposed the payment of taxes in the form of olive oil. Thanks to them, the process of olive cultivation and oil production improved and the spread of the product reached the territories of Northern Europe. They also classified the oil according to the different types of pressing.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, olive cultivation also failed and for centuries the olive groves survived only in a few territories.

In the Middle Ages the best lands were recovered for the production of basic cereals and for the cultivation of the olive tree, thanks to the intuition of part of the commercial bourgeoisie, which saw in the oil a flourishing trade. In the 1400s Italy became the largest producer of olive oil in the world. In this period, in some areas of the Bel Paese, the use of animal fats such as butter was preferred to oil.

In the Renaissance, thanks to the Cistercian and Benedictine abbeys, custodians of plants and herbs, olive cultivation and viticulture were saved from abandonment. At the dawn of the eighteenth century the olive tree and its fruits began to be cataloged, classifying them according to their geographical origin. Olive oil was increasingly widespread and known, within Europe, as an excellent Italian product and it was, precisely in this flourishing period, that some Italian regions defined their olive growing vocation, increasing the cultivation of olive.

Also in the 1700s, some Franciscan missionaries brought the first olive trees to the New World, but it was only a hundred years after the olive oil was also marketed in America, thanks to Italian and Greek immigrants.

In the second half of the twentieth century oil, due to the economic boom, began to be considered a poor element and was replaced by richer animal fats.

The last few decades fortunately have decreed the success and the requalification of the oil, also thanks to the success of the Mediterranean diet.

Olive oil has become one of the most loved and exported Italian food products in the world and is one of the largest productions of our Campania region.