I’d been looking for Mediterranean ‘Fair Trade’ products for some time but could not find any that originated in Greece. However I came across a new UK based ‘Ethical Superstore’ that market ‘Fair Trade’ products from Palestine.
Zaytoun’s Fairtrade, organic olive oil is a unique product able to compete with the best oils from all over the world. With the launch of these great-tasting, life-changing products in the UK, Zaytoun are offering small-scale farmers, often working under extreme conditions, not only a fair price and a chance to expand and improve their production, but also the opportunity to sustain a livelihood with dignity and security.
The olive tree and its produce are of key cultural and economic importance to Palestinian people, and Zaytoun creates international links through trade rather than aid. Cathi Pawson, co-founder of Zaytoun says this is vital to the company’s philosophy: “Aid donations, while necessary, rarely foster foundations for long-term prosperity and social revitalization. To date, our trade with the Palestinian people has brought well over £1 million to their economy, and support for rural society”
Zaytoun Olive Oil is described by wine and food writer Malcolm Gluck as: “One of the least aggressive yet pungently attractive olive oils I have tasted. It is in the rich nourishing class of the best of the fruity Sicilian, Cretan, and northern Spanish oils and its beautiful green cloudiness bespeaks of care and judicious handling.”
Cathi Pawson and her Zaytoun co-founder Heather Masoud join the farmers in Palestine every year to help them bring home the olive harvest. All of Zaytoun’s Fairtrade olive oils are pressed from organically grown fruit, extra virgin and first cold pressed. The name ‘Zaytoun’ is taken from the Arabic word for olive.
The olive harvest in Palestine today continues the tradition held by generations, with the whole family, from great grandparent down to the children, coming together under the trees to harvest their fruit. As Abu Suleiman, one of the Zaytoun Palestinian farmers producing the oil says:
“The olive trees root and anchor us in our land, provide a sense of belonging, home and hope, investing in olive oil is investing in our future.”
As the ancient Arabic proverb says, ‘There are only three constant things in life – death, change and olive trees.’ Olives are a centuries-old mainstay of the Palestinian economy, with the soil and climate producing some of the world’s highest quality olive oil. The trees that produce them can live for well over 500 years, surviving drought, frost, poor soil and thrive despite adversity, very much like their Palestinian owners.
Estimates suggest that about 100,000 families in Palestine depend to some extent upon the olive harvest for their livelihoods. The development of the olive oil sector is critical as an important source of food security, labour and cash income and has the potential to lift thousands of Palestinians out of poverty.
Zaytoun is committed to making a tangible difference, maintaining close links with producers, working to organise volunteer teams to help out with the harvest every year and ensuring that proceeds from sales here in the UK are directed where they are most needed.