UC Davis Launches a New Olive Center
This week the University of California Davis launched the first university-based olive research and education center in North America. They are hoping to do for olives and olive oil what it has done for grapes and wine.
The center's program will be devoted to teaching, research and educational activities. The teaching component will eventually include a general-education class on olive oil; student internships; and short courses on olive growing, and olive-oil processing and sensory evaluation.
Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is confident that the knowledge coming out of the new center "will lead to advances in olive growing and processing, and a better understanding of the link between olive products and consumer health."
The new center's initial priorities will include strengthening California's olive oil labeling statutes, conducting research on issues identified by olive-oil and table-olive producers, and identifying better laboratory methods for detecting adulterated olive oil.
An olive-oil processing plant will enable the center to examine the impact of different olive varieties, environmental factors and growing practices on olive-oil quality. Researchers affiliated with the center will also explore potential health benefits of olives and olive oil, pest management strategies and mechanical harvesting improvements.