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Chrisna's olives a food story to tell

Back then the olive industry in South Africa was in its anti-natal stage. The only countable olive trees were in and around Paarl, on the farm of Mr Costa — who was the father of the olive industry in South Africa. (He started planting olive trees after arriving here from Italy and the only olive oil could be found in a chemist in a small 100ml bottle.)

The serious olive farmers only started planting trees years later.

In the meantime I had travelled to Italy and France and was totally in awe of their fresh food markets and the abundance of different olives on offer. I could not wait to get back home and start with my own olive products. The problem was: where to get them? I gathered olives from every olive tree in the old gardens and all the olive trees planted as windbreakers on farms in and around Stellenbosch and I had enough olives to fill a few buckets; which filled my tiny kitchen.

Then I started the never-ending, but exciting task of educating my future customers to appreciate olives and their oils. The buckets in my kitchen became barrels in my garden and for the next few years the portapool seemed to do the volume just as well. Soon my house could no longer contain my need to progress and in 2008 I moved my olives to a wonderful and peaceful setting on a farm. I had space to employ four people to help me and together we are able to manage 15 tons of olives a year. Now my olives are grown on a farm near Worcester, where no hormones or chemicals are used in the process. They ripen from March to May, are hand picked, and put straight into special tanks. The curing process takes up to ten months by using salt from the Little Karoo, and after that we can’t wait to prepare them for markets. We smoke them. We roast them. We sun dry them. We add home grown herbs, garlic, lemons, chilli and we also turn some into pastes and tapenades with anchovies and capers.

• Extra virgin olive oil is cold pressed and unrefined and contains all the natural flavours, antioxidants, vitamins and goodness of a natural product. • Olives and oil have high levels of natural antioxidants (especially vitamin e) which helps to detoxify and protects against degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and acts as an anti inflammatory supplement. • About 75% of the fatty acids in olive oil are monosaturated; which means it breaks down the bad cholesterol and increases the good cholesterol in the bloodstream. • It has a good balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which helps with healthy heart and brain functions. • Olive oil is easily digested an helps with the absorption of minerals and vitamins. • As a skin care product it is often used in anti-aging creams and in general gives skin a healthy appearance. We attend regular food markets in and around Cape Town and sell our olives to lots and lots of happy customers. Nevertheless – with or without all the added extras – olives stay one of the healthier choices in life.

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