Xylella, Italy, Spain discussed on Gastropod



These olive groves go back centuries, they define the landscape, the culture, the food, everything. So that was one problem. Another challenge was the fact that there was a big social media campaign to undermine the science. You have very challenging situation at the moment, for example, where you had scientists working on the epidemic being investigated by local prosecutor, possibly being charged for being responsible for a epidemic. You have people who do not believe in science. For example, they don't believe that a lot of facilities is a bacterium. They don't believe that it's present there. They think it's a hoax. They think that their mafia is behind it. There are several different conspiracy theories and this sort of narrative permeated through the local population, or at least sections of the local population. And you ended up with a situation where politicians were not willing to do what was supposed to be done and make difficult decisions. And as a consequence, the epidemic has a spread. Xylella has since been found in Spain and France, too, honestly, this all makes me a little panicky. I think a full third of my diet must be made up of olive oil. How worried should I really be? I think people are right to be anxious, you know, is not the end of olive oil production in Europe. It's clear that it's specific circumstances, like in southern Italy, if the conditions are just right, you can have a devastating epidemic. Scientists are working to breed xylella resistant olive tree varieties, they're figuring out new ways to control the insects that spread the xylella, and the EU has cracked down on Italy to make sure people do enforce the quarantine. My understanding is that there has been a little bit of a shift here where the local government is complying with the recommendations a little bit more. All my digits are crossed. I can't imagine Italy without olive oil or my life without all the olive oil possible. You and me both. But Cynthia, we've been talking about olives for a few minutes now, and we have yet to even get into what olive oil is. And I know this sounds like a stupid thing to ask. Of course we know what olive oil is. It's oil from an olive, but we figured we should ask the expert. That's author Tom Mueller. We should ask him what it is, just to be sure that's coming up after the break. And olive is a droop technically speaking seed fruit like a plum or a cherry. And so olive oil, or what you extract from the olive is quite literally fruit juice. That is not the answer we were expecting. But why would the juice of a fruit be so oily? Plum juice is not oily, cherry juice is not oily. Tom says it's all because of what the olive seed needs to grow.

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