How one local entrepreneur is distilling wholesome nutrients from ancient olive trees into a revolutionary, bite-sized packet
The oldest woman in Europe lives in Puglia. Maria Giuseppa Robucci turned 116 years old in March, and the secret to her longevity is a frugal diet consisting of bread, tomatoes and… olive oil. Not by chance, in her hometown of Apricena, she is surrounded by olive groves. The ingredient is a staple of the region’s ‘cucina povera’ where rustic bread and oil meet on every table.
One might argue that only an Apulian could develop such a product. After all, Puglia is home to some 60 million olive trees and produces nearly 40% of Italy’s olive oil. ‘La Bella della Daunia’, an olive native to Puglia, is even protected under European law.
Now, one local agronomist and entrepreneur has developed an organic, extra virgin olive oil sourced from ancient olive trees in the countryside of Savelletri (Fasano), an area abundant in UNESCO-protected olive groves. Olivhealth is the brainchild of 35-year-old Cosimo Damiano Guarini, a passionate Apulian entrepreneur who undertook intense research in the design of this product. Olivhealth consists of oil that is processed within two hours to keep nutrients intact.
The result of joint research with the University of Pharmacy and Agriculture of Bari, Guarini states that it is the first olive oil in Puglia to be naturally rich in polyphenols (antioxidants) that may help prevent cardiovascular diseases, vitamin E to protect cells from oxidative stress, unsaturated fat (promotes healthy cholesterol) and omega-3.
Where most people drizzle olive oil on their food, just one dose per meal can guarantee the beneficial effect of its health properties. Olivhealth comes in small packets; a single ‘monodose’ contains 236 drops of oil, tantamount to one classic tablespoon. Guarini has intentionally developed the product this way so that while it retains the throat-burning response that true olive oil must have, it is not bitter.
What’s most interesting about this product is its high versatility and ease of use – you simply tear the opening and drink straight from the packet, accompanying any meal of the day. Olivhealth has been capturing the attention on a national level; Guarini is working with professional sports players in Italy to integrate the product as part of a fitness regime. High levels of Vitamin E make it an ideal nutritional companion during pregnancy while the Omega-3 count is ideal for childhood development.
While the olive groves are located in the countryside of Fasano, Guarini is often on the road for presentations with thought leaders or conducting research with medical experts. Yet his knowledge of the land is uncanny. Guarini, who grew up surrounded by Puglia’s ancient olive trees, has written several books on his beloved culture and landscape, always linked back to the olive tree. “Puglia, always referred to in Italy by the plural, ‘Le Puglie’ preserves diversity of territory, traditions, dialects, dishes, and landscapes, whose constant is the olive tree. In fact, the olive tree is the trail to follow for those who really want to visit ‘Le Puglie’,” says Guarini. The entrepreneur published BikOliveOil, a book that features olive mills, recipes, and cycling journeys that pass through rural churches, old railways, aqueducts, and magical olive groves that will have you appreciating the age-old wisdom, beauty, and vulnerability of one of Puglia’s most important agricultural treasures.
Where to find Olivhealth
Olivhealth can be purchased online and found in strategic locations in Puglia
For information on cycling itineraries, visit www.via-magazine.com
Christian Koch is an award-winning journalist/editor who has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Evening Standard, Telegraph, The Independent, Q, The Face and Metro. He has interviewed everybody from Mariah Carey to Michael Douglas, and Richard Branson to Beyoncé. Newspaper and magazine assignments have included reporting on the Japanese tsunami, gatecrashing the Cannes film festival, spending a weekend at a commune in Piedmont, and circumnavigating 360° around the world in 360 hours.