One of the most thrilling parts of Truth in Olive Oil is hearing the voices of oil-makers and olive farmers from the four corners of the world, learning of their hardships and triumphs. Sometimes I speak with them in person, walking among their trees, later on trying their oil with their families around the kitchen table. Sometimes - more and more since this movement began – they send a bottle or tin of their oil for me to try. Whether in person or from across the world, they speak of their work, and their oil, with a pride that is both gentle and fierce.
Welcome to a new section of Truth in Olive Oil, where I will profile the Heroes of Oil, some of the people I have met, or hope someday to meet, who represent the future of great olive oil around the world - growers, millers, merchants, lovers of fine oil. Today I'd like to introduce Diamantis Pierrakos, whose family has made oil from their koroneiki trees in the Peloponnese for four generations. His account of his family's struggles, which parallel the struggles that his country has undergone over the last several years, I found very moving.
PS In response to a flood of requests, here is a store locator where you may be able to find Laconiko oil in your area.
Dear Mr Tom Mueller,
Thank you so much for the opportunity in trying my family's extra virgin olive oil and having the time to email me, knowing how busy you must be. I cannot tell you how hard we work in producing this extra virgin olive oil, all our koroneiko olive tree groves are located outside of Sparta, Greece in the southern tip of the Peloponnese. We have around 5000 olive trees which are all sand grown, planted right up to the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, where the water breaks, literally! It is such a beautiful sight and we would love to have you visit us one day. Your book has been such a large inspiration for me and my family, it has given us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our olive groves have been in my family for over four generations and only until recently did we personally start exporting it to the USA, and only after I had the opportunity to get educated in the USA at The Virginia Polytechnic Institute "Virginia Tech".
You see Mr Mueller, my parents were slowly pushing us away from our olive groves by sending us to the US to get educated and ultimately do something better with our lives "as they saw it from their eyes", because they could not see us being olive oil producers and being able to make an honest living. Little did my parents know that the sacrifices they made, selling half of our land to get educated, would ultimately only bring us closer to our family heritage and back to our olive groves.
After discovering how terrible the olive oils were and what the consumer was really consuming here in the United States, that is when my brother and I decided to start bringing our family's extra virgin olive oil to the United States, which has put us in a journey of great personal discovery and has made us more appreciative of my family being an extra virgin olive oil producer. The journey has been very difficult for us at times, in breaking into an industry where fake extra virgin olive oils are seen as the ideal, but it is great books like yours Mr Mueller that gives us motivation to keep pushing through. My brother and I have knocked on over a thousand doors, talking to different potential stores, dropping samples and hoping that they would try our olive oil, and slowly door to door we started to break into the market. So with great pride I am excited to share a bottle of my family's extra virgin olive oil with you, and we are truly grateful for your book, which has given us motivation and the encouragement to always keep improving our olive oil harvest.
Diamantis Pierrakos and The Pierrakos Family
Laconiko Extra Virgin Olive Oil