Small in Size, Big in Nutrition

They are mentioned frequently in the Bible, both Old and New Testament, and of course who can dismiss the venerable olive branch which symbolizes peace. Hebrew cuisine valued the fruit as well as the oil, which was considered holy and had many uses, including oil lamps, personal grooming and religious ceremonies.

The island of Crete made a major impact in the olive business several thousand years B.C. but has been dwarfed in modern times by larger and more populated countries. Case in point, Spain takes top honors for introducing olive trees to the Americas, where they showed up around the time Columbus raised his sails and headed West. (Who knows, maybe Columbus had something to do with it.) It is believed that Spanish missionaries in the 18th century brought the olive tree to U.S. territory as they traveled up through Mexico, finding their way to the rich soils of California before it was settled and achieved statehood. Still a major industry in Spain, they boast the largest production with approximately 6 million tons per year. Italy and Greece place second and third with 2.5 to 3.5 million tons annually. There’s no question that the Mediterranean countries lead the pack, as 90%

The First Health Food

The word yogurt originated in Turkey, where the practice of fermenting milk caught on in a big way. Recorded history tells us that Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongol Empire, and his armies lived on yogurt. (So for all you men out there who think yogurt is for sissies, think again.) The first references to yogurt are in Turkish writings during the 11th century, but it is believed that yogurt was eaten with honey since the early Bible times. Other countries seasoned it with spices and seeds, enjoying its smooth creamy texture. There are as many versions as there are countries, and its popularity spread long before its health benefits were totally understood. Middle Eastern countries used yogurt in many dishes centuries before it found its way to Western Europe.

Because yogurt contains good bacteria, it was believed to have curative powers especially for digestive and intestinal abnormalities. Francis I, a powerful late fifteenth century French monarch, purportedly was relieved of his chronic diarrhea by a physician who prescribed a daily helping of yogurt, and word soon spread throughout Western