08 23 2014
  6:22 am  
     •     
Healthy youth

 

Find out how to buy Andalucian Girl Extra Virgin Olive Oil here.

Even a 100-year-old business has to branch out every now and again. The Soria family has been cultivating olives in Spain for even longer than that. But, when Wayne Branche married Marie Soria, they decided to launch a new brand to export their extra virgin olive oil to the United States and the Caribbean: Andalucian Girl.

And it was Wayne Branche's idea that the Andalucian Girl, pictured on the label of Andalucian Girl olive oil would be his wife, Marie Soria Branche. He also made this video about the family's olive oil.

I saw that the market here is underserved and served by producers who are not so ethical," Wayne Branche told The Skanner "Ninety percent extra virgin oil is not really extra virgin – it should be 100 percent."

Branche can talk for hours about the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil. In the village of Mancha Real near the Villalata olive estate, the benefits are evident, he says.

"All the senior citizens are very healthy here and we have very low instances of dementia and cancer."

He's learned how to grow, prune and harvest the trees, as well as how to press the olives and extract the greenish golden liquid for use in cooking.

Extra virgin oil is the first pressing of the olives. The oil is extracted without using chemicals or heat. It has a low acidity and meets the highest

quality taste standards. And it contains high levels of nutrients and antioxidants, such as phenols.

"You cannot use chemicals and heat, or it is not extra virgin," Branche says.

The Soria family grows olives on five different estates in the province of Jaen in Andalucia, Spain.

"We grow the Picual olive," Branche says. "It's the one that is known to have the most antioxidants. Of the more than 1000 varieties of olive, only about 20 are used to make olive oil.

And there are more picual trees than any other kind.

"Every tree has its own water supply," he says. "There is a small pipe that runs water to each individual tree."

Olive oil seems to have life-extending properties – since it is linked to reduced risk of many diseases of old age. Certainly the trees themselves can live for hundreds of years – with the oldest in the Middle East, claimed to be 3,000 years old, and still producing olives.

Branche first launched the Andalucian Girl olive oil brand in the United States in 2007. At the moment, the oil is distributed mainly by individuals and through word of mouth connection. And Branche says he's in no hurry to place the brand on supermarket shelves.

"We realize that this is a slow method of distribution – putting good quality olive oil into the hands of individuals. But we feel sure that once people realize that the quality of this oil is different from what they are used to, we will develop a following.

"Word gets around. You just have to be patient."

Wayne Branche with friends and family. In front of him are (from left) his wife Marie and her sister, Professor Lourdes Soria, who studies olive agricultural techniques in the Mediterranean and teaches at the International University of Andalucia.

Find out how to buy Andalucian Girl Extra Virgin Olive Oil here.

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