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Thank an Olive Farmer this Holiday Season

Thank an Olive Farmer this Holiday Season 
Jon Schmitz, Agronomy Sales Manager 
jschmitz@allamericancoop.com (507) 434-0016 

Here’s some food for thought………Literally.  Have you ever wondered where some of your food comes from and how it’s processed?  I don’t mean the normal everyday foods farmers here in the Midwest raise.    We all know where corn and soybean based foods come from and where our pork, beef, and chicken come from.  I’m talking about the not so everyday things we like to eat.  I’m talking about, for instance, things like…………….Olives.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little world we too forget where some of our food really comes from.  Let me tell you why I have an interest in Olives. 

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of my favorite time of year.  As I think about all that I have to be thankful for my mind wonders back in time and I reminisce of past traditions that our family had when I was growing up, many of which I would like to pass on to my own children.  When I think back to the Holiday Season as a child I think of Family, Food, conversation, warm house and Fun.  You can imagine a household of 13 siblings, some of which already were married, and some who already had children of their own.  It was a grand time to get together over the holidays.  When it came to Thanksgiving food of course we all looked forward to the traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, Mogen David wine with sprite, and pumpkin pie.  But there is one thing that my family of origin probably looked forward to more than anything else.  And that was olives.  Man oh man, do we like olives.  Green or black, it really doesn’t matter. 

Now picture in your mind how long one of those little jars of olives that you find in the condiment isle of the grocery store would last at the dinner table with a family of 13 siblings and a handful of others.  I’ll help you out a little, about 2.7 seconds is all.  And a can of black would maybe last 2.9 seconds.  Many times they would all be gone even before dinner started.  Everyone’s standing around as Mom is finishing the final touches on the gravy, Dad is carving the turkey, someone decides to get the relishes out and puts the carrots, celery, and olives on a platter or in a bowl and for the next 10 minutes every hand in the place is dipping into the olive bowl, maybe grabbing a carrot now and then for some extra crunch and before you know it, the olives are gone and dinner hasn’t even started.  What a bummer. 

Well at some point in time in order to curve everyone’s insatiable appetite for the olives prior to the main course someone came up with the idea that for every olive someone ate they had to say something they were thankful for before they could eat it.  Eventually it came to pass that once everyone was seated around the dining room table everyone had an olive or two on their plate and we would go around the table and say what we were thankful for that thanksgiving. 

While I was growing up mom would do her grocery shopping at Randall Foods and later Cash Wise.  Each of those stores had an isle with bulk foods.  Well low and behold, one year dad was able to find a gallon jar of green olives.  Hallelujah, problem of running out of olives at thanksgiving solved.  That gallon Jar would normally be enough to get us through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our appetite for olives would wane a bit until the following year  and about a week before Thanksgiving when mom and dad or some of the kids would go grocery shopping, someone would always remind mom (it was usually dad), “don’t forget the olives.” 

Our family still gathers occasionally over the Holiday Season but the numbers have grown from 13 plus to 40 plus.  Olives are still a traditional part of our meal and comradery and I usually take on the task of bringing the green and black olives to our extended family gatherings.  (It’s way easier than having to cook something).   I have not been able to find a gallon jar any more but I do buy them in bulk from Sam’s Club.  The green come in a pack of 2 quart jars and the Black come in a pack of 6 cans.  Each of them are somewhere around $6.00.  What a deal. 

My own children love olives about as much as I do and we try to carry on the tradition at our thanksgiving feast.  About the only thing that has changed in my own family is the size of the family and  that I’ve graduated from Mogen David to a Higher quality vintage of wine.  The kids drink Welch’s sparkling grape juice. 

So this Holiday Season as I sit at the dining table with olive In hand, I’m thankful for childhood memories, tradition, and the olive farmer. What are you thankful for this Holiday season?  Where might it come from and who might You thank? Wishing you all a Thankful Holiday Season and a Very Merry Christmas.  

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