How are Olives harvested?
Since ancient times up to modern days, olive harvesting methods have remained approximately the same. The majority of olive harvesting is still done in the traditional way. The technological development is slower in this field due to the fact that agriculture is a seasonal job. The harvesting of olives, in Turkey, begins at the end of September and lasts about a couple of months, being dependent on the season and the weather conditions. With traditional harvesting, a number of people are needed per olive tree. This process consists of setting down a large tarpaulin on the ground, followed by the shaking of the tree’s branches, and finally the gathering of the fallen olives collected on the tarpaulin. The most common tool used is a very long wooden pole, used to rake and shake the branches. In recent years, hand held electric shakers are being used which speeds up the process, but each machine is quite expensive, so in my opinion, it does not replace a team of locals doing the job.
Harvesting our Olive Tree
Recently, especially in countries with a strong economical presence, mechanical systems for gathering olives have been introduced. Some of the best known and used systems are trunk shakers and self-propelled harvesters. These mechanical systems are used in harvesting olive cultures grown specifically for this purpose. It is difficult to use these systems for traditional “natural” cultures due to the fact that the olive sizes can vary, as well as due to the fact that the trees are not grown in rows and columns.
There is a clear difference between the local traditional olive groves that line the mountains and fields with a fairly random layout compared to the symmetrical rows of the industrial plantations designed for mechanical automated harvesting. And this were the problems start!
Increased profit anyone?
We live in a world where we expect food to be cheap and the large companies providing the food need to make a profit. This is were large scale automated systems are taking over with the use of insecticides to increase yields.
From the U.S. to Europe, huge Olive harvesting machines are shaking, thwacking and vacuuming the trees to collect the oil producing fruit. The problem is, the machines can work 24 hours a day, and who lives in the trees at night?
Vacuumed to death
According to research, millions of birds are being sucked up into these machines as they sleep at night.
An interesting article about this can be found on birdsguide.com.
Apparently Spanish authorities has issued guideline to stop night harvesting, but other countries like France, Italy and Portugal have yet to take action.
Who new that so much cruelty was involved with the harvesting of olives? You would have thought someone would have reported this sooner!
The harvesting machine
Apparently, some producers are changing their ways, but others are not. In a field where profit is king, should we not be informed which Olive producers are causing so much needless destruction on the bird population? I for one would not buy Olive products from suppliers that are so reckless. It makes me so angry that a company can grow a natural product like Olive’s and for the sake of profit kill cause so much cruelty.
Olive Oil from Milas, Turkey
Olives are not only organic (no certificates) in the area of Milas, but no the Olives are collected using traditional methods. This would be the same throughout Turkey, and no doubt the smaller non industrial Olive groves throughout the world.
We use CRUELTY FREE Olive Oil in our soap, produced in Milas. No dead birds, no chemicals, all traditionally harvested.
So the next time you reach for the cheap Olive oil in the supermarket, or buy your natural Olive oil soap from an artisan maker, what was the real cost of producing it?