Gaea recently sent my family some samples of its extra-virgin olive oil to sample.¬† The premise of their operation is simple: grow great tasting olives, produce high quality olive oil, and offset their carbon emissions.
We’ve used the olive oil for a week or so, cooking with it (excellent flavor for meats and veggies) and using it in our recipes.¬† The verdict?¬† Delicious.¬† Whether you’re making a salad dressing, sauteing veggies or chicken – you can’t go wrong.
Gaea offers a variety of olive oils: Sitia-Crete, Kalamata, Organic, and several flavored versions.
There are also whole olives, tampenades, appetizers, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, grape leaves, and a line of sauces that I’d love to get my hands on.
Now, to the claim that Gaea is the “first extra virgin olive oil in the world to be certified carbon neutral”.¬† A google search turns up some smaller olive farms that have attempted to achieve similar carbon reductions and offsets.¬† I’m really not too worried who was the first to be certified, but I am interested in how Gaea achieves those claims:
Carbon or Greenhouse Gas offsetting is the funding of climate protection
projects by an individual or a company, such as GAEA, in order to
compensate for the carbon emissions it produces as a result from its
operations and/or products. GAEA calculated the amount of carbon
emissions produced per kg of olive oil and compensated it by funding
climate protection projects through the myclimate foundation.
Ok, so it’s through offsets, then.¬† Well what kind of offsets you ask?¬† Gaea provides the details in this brochure.
Let me get on my soapbox for a minute:¬† I am happy to see when companies are interested in reducing their environmental impact, though I wish that the website went into more detail about their carbon calculations.¬† I also wish that Gaea provided a description of the other methods that they are using to reduce their environmental impact.¬† Are they reducing fertilizers and pesticides?¬† Preventing soil erosion?¬† I have been and will continue to be skeptical about companies who pay for carbon offsets, do little to make real on-the-ground changes, and call their products climate neutral.¬† To be fair, I requested this information from the company and this is their response:
Gaea is leading the way in the international olive oil industry with their green ‚Äėrev-oil-ution‚Äô to reduce the environmental impact of their operations from cultivation to the shelves of the supermarket. Gaea is committed to preserving the Earth‚Äôs natural resources with our non-depletion policy on wild products, recycling policies, Integrated Crop Management and Organic Farming techniques. With a name that literally stands for ‚ÄėMother Earth‚Äô, Gaea has been committed to environmental sustainability since its inception. Care and respect for the environment remains at the core of our company values.¬† This information can be found on the Gaea website at http://www.gaea.gr/1/gaeaStory2.html.
I’m not sure what “non-depletion policy on wild products” means, but it does sound like the company is attempting to minimize its environmental impact.¬† I do know that a more complete disclosure of their carbon emissions inventory and farming practices would go a long way for environmentally conscious consumers.
If you are in the market for some extra virgin olive oil, or Greek specialty products – Give Gaea a try!