NEW OIL BOOM FEEDING TEXAS ECONOMY
Texas Farmers Begin Harvesting Of Largest Olive Crop Ever
Carrizo Springs, TX, September 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Crowds have gathered in South Texas to observe the state’s olive harvest season currently in full swing. Texas Olive Oil Council (TOOC) leaders are anticipating a statewide yield of approximately 500 tons; making this a banner year for the burgeoning olive oil industry. To mark this historic occasion the state’s largest orchard, Texas Olive Ranch, invited the public for an up close view of the mechanical harvesting and process of pressing extra virgin oil.
The two-day event held September 14th – 15th included an Olive Oil Field Day seminar hosted by the USDA and TOOC. One of the featured speakers was Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples. It is evidence of the amazing growth this agricultural specialty has experienced since the first visionary pioneers began experimenting with plantings in the early 90s. Today Texas is poised to become a major player in the market. Currently, the U.S. produces a mere 1% of the 50 million gallons of olive oil Americans consume each year. Recent controversy over the labeling of olive oil imports has increased interest in domestic product. Also fueling demand; continual scientific research supporting olive oil as part of a healthy diet for numerous medical concerns ranging from heart disease and cancer to Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
“American consumers are becoming more health conscious and they want a high-quality fresh product,” said TOOC board member Karen Lee. “Texas has the resources to help fill that need.”
The olive oil industry is also a healthy economic boost for Texas’ agricultural community. It has revived idle farmland and brought diversity to the state’s agribusiness. The TOOC, USDA, and Texas Department of Agriculture have also launched several research and education programs to support the growth of Texas’ newest cash crop. Industry leaders believe that olive growers’ success will ultimately flow into other sectors.
“There is an air of romanticism around olive orchards,” said Lee. “And at the same time so many useful products can be made from olives that we envision carving out a niche in tourism and bath & beauty products.”