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artisan food wednesday series - ojai olive oil

images courtesy of ojai olive oil

happy wednesday! mercury retrograde on mercury's day and all is well. tiny bits of snow are intermittent and it's so quiet. i'm thinking about the end of this retreat and the immediate return to the sunshine and warmth. this week i came across an organic olive oil producer in ojai and wanted to share them with you. right now they have online ordering and a presence at the ojai farmer's market. they only offer same year oil and use permaculture and biodynamic practices on the ranch. their long term vision is one of stewardship and the oil itself is fantastic. 

images courtesy of ojai olive oil

i am trying one of their infused olive oils next. read about how they do it here

images courtesy of ojai olive oil

any oil they have leftover from the previous year gets reincarnated into their small and luxurious cosmetics line.

have you tried their oils and do you have favorites? i'd love to know what they are. here's what they have to say about their sustainability practices below.

"Part of making a delicious product that we can be proud of is operating in harmony with the land that produces our olives. The best olives come from healthy trees, and the healthiest trees live as part of a strong and vibrant ecosystem. Traditional agriculture isolates crops into artificial environments, where they are pumped full of chemical fertilizers and doused in pesticides and herbicides. Farming organically is a key first step, and does wonders for improving the quality of the fruit. There is much more that can be done beyond this though, and each additional step adds benefits and strength to the ecosystem, and thereby to the olives. Synergistic crops that help feed the fruiting trees, animals that help with fertilizing and pruning, composts and compost teas made of local plant life, beneficial insects that protect fruiting crops and promote pollination... there are a multitude of elements to a happy and sustainable ecosystem. Farming in a way that takes all of these elements into account is known as 'permaculture'. Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, which develops sustainable and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. The Asquith Ranch and Ojai Olive Oil are among few examples of a working permaculture farming operation in southern California.

Olive trees love Ojai's Mediterranean climate, and they thrive here, but there is still always work to be done. Each year begins with a pruning, to trim back the previous year's overgrowth and make space for the new season's olives. Olives will only form on new growth, so pruning properly is a key component of the process. Winter winds can also uproot trees that get too tall, and overgrown trees won't have as much energy to devote to fruit formation. By spring the olive trees begin to flower, and we get our first glimpse of the season ahead. The spring bloom turns to baby olives in early summer, and by fall we can tell how many olives we'll be harvesting, and how well formed the fruit is that year. Harvest time for olives is always late fall-early winter. We generally pick from mid October to mid January, with most of the fruit being picked and milled in November/December.

We pick all of our olives by hand, allowing us to be more selective in what fruit is being harvested. This also allows us to pick at the same rate that we process, keeping the time from tree to mill to an absolute minimum. After being picked, the olives are carried over to the barn, and immediately poured into our olive mill. The mill's first step is a 'hopper', which cleans off any loose debris like leaves and twigs from the olives. The olives are then taken into the 'crusher', which pulverizes the fruit, pits and all. The resulting dark purple paste is directed into large mixing containers, where it is slowly churned for about half an hour. This allows the droplets of oil to find each other and coalesce, while the crushed bits of pit attach to the fruit, skin and water. The final phase is the oil separation, which is done by centrifuge. The contents of the mixers is rapidly spun, allowing the lighter olive oil to exit at one end, while all of the other, heavier elements of the paste exit the centrifuge at the other end. And voila! We have the season's new extra virgin olive oil.

Olives are clearly something we have a lot of, so by offering the olive oil we make to our community, we are able to support our ongoing efforts to develop our permaculture vision and support our family. We thank you for supporting this vision and for supporting your local farmers! And remember, since only 1% of the olive oil consumed in the US is actually made in the US, and virtually all of that is made in California, even if you live in Florida we are your local olive oil farmer :)"

this post was not sponsored by ojai olive oil


dharmaline launch is official

i am so incredibly stoked to announce the upcoming November 1st launch of my Etsy shop Dharmaline. this new work has been a long time coming, nearly a year of hesitations and fits and starts. i'll link the shop when it's ready, probably somewhere around midnight on Halloween. thank you so much to my encouraging team and i hope you brilliant, wonderful people will give me feedback as i go. 


transparency and everlane

it's been a long time since i last posted about ecoluxury. i'm still in the process of organizing the content of this blog, now that so many things have changed and i've spent so much time away from it. this post is rambling, personal, and impersonal (just so you know:). i'm working on spreading that balance out in the blog, making it interesting, beautiful, helpful, and personal, as much as possible. in grad school i worked on a thesis about the need for transparency in apparel manufacturing. i wanted to research the heck out of the possibilities allowing for american companies to revolutionize their methods of production as well as their relationship to their customers. i also wanted to lay out a plan, however small, for start-ups who wanted transparency to be not only available to their consumers but who wanted to use it as a serious marketing tool. i had a lot of clothing and i was concerned about that. transparency was a simple concept but not utilized and i was concerned about that too. i love design, i love innovation, and i'm very interested in changing everything about the way we consume what we do.

back in my last life, my ex husband and i converted our second bedroom to a closet to hold all our clothing. maybe that's not so weird for many people, but it was for me. i grew up wearing the same shirt for ten years and suddenly i had a hundred shirts and the power to buy just about any shirt i wanted at any time. i had a tee shirt from everyone. i was always involved in considered purchases of sustainable brands but i veered this way and that at times, depending on my emotional climate and on the design. personal stuff warning ****i'm in a strange position at this time because i have built such a strong skill set of fashion knowledge, sustainability knowledge, writing skills, customer service skills, and on and on, yet i don't have the kind of experience that can be easily read on a resume or on a linkedin profile. each day i keep taking actions to pursue working with some amazing people where i can both be learning and contributing. i don't know how to do this other than to keep trying and to not give up. to locate amazing start-ups and ask if i can help. one of the ways i won't give up is by continuing to speak on how we can better live with the necessary items in our lives, feeling that our lives are lives of luxury, even if our bank statements do not put us in the 1% with 40%. beautiful design, plus gratitude, plus active optimism, plus health, plus love. easy, huh?****ok you're safe again!

this practice of transparency is something very dear to me and i see it as the way to change a broken manufacturing system into a new and excellent paradigm of true costs to benefits. it can be so easy to not look at something we'd rather not see, so what will make us look? what will create the awareness within us that we need total no bs manufacturing transparency? it is here and is very real. it is called excellent design. excellent design is the trump card for attention getting and when it's evident, eyes and wallets will follow. imagine if you gathered ten tee shirts to try on, not knowing the brand or the cost, wore them about a bit, and then picked your favorite. it's very likely to be everlane.

so there i was with all these tees, for all these years, and i'd seen everything. every cut, every fabric. the differences in quality were huge and it did not, of course, range logically in quality based on price. not at all. i had tees from lna, alex wang, the row, vince, velvet, ella moss, james perse, three dots, kain label, free people, marc by marc, american apparel, splendid, rogan, loomstate, edun, c&c california, joie, ann demeulemeester, and on and on. i first heard of everlane a few months before their ecommerce site launched in november 2011. a year or so later i found myself in the position to purchase some replacements for the things i had purged after my divorce, which was everything. i ordered a few tees, tried them on, and that was that. i've been washing those tees for the last year and they have held up beautifully. a new line of cashmere sweaters has just been released, all $120. i have experience with quality cashmere (my ancient pringle of scotland cardigan can attest to this!), and normally i buy cashmere from inhabit or vince so needless to say i buy only one a year or so. with everlane, i think i'll get two, and i know the quality alone will make it more than worth the cost, which thanks to transparency is a true cost and not an overinflated retail mark up.

everlane did not sponsor this post as i have no sponsors, this is just a well researched opinion. check out what they have to say on radical transparency in the retail apparel marketplace here and then order a ryan tee or a silk blouse and see for yourself what a little start-up can do with a new set of rules and brilliant design.



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