£20 for a litre of Greek Olive Oil - you is avin a giraffe at the SPRINGfest today

Tom Winnifrith Saturday 8 July 2017


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For a couple of weeks, the Mrs and I were wondering why the widely advertised event in this part of Bristol was called SPRINGfest. After all it is July. Perhaps it is that unfashionable old Brislington is just a bit behind the times? It turns out that this is the festival of the Sandy Park Road Improvement Neighbourhood Group. It is a bit out a mouthful but the main thoroughfare in this part of the world sure does need improving.

It has one uber dodgy pub, one fairly ordinary restaurant but a proliferation of charity shops, fish and chip shops and low grade Estate agents. I suppose there is a new Deli.. it is improving a bit.

At the top of the road is St Cuthberts where Joshua was christened two weeks ago. It was hosting the sort of "producers" Bristol abounds with. that is to say folks who produce home made jewellery, cards and tea towels. We said hello to the vicar who, once again, was on good behaviour, managing not to mention the oppression of the poor Palestinians, for a whole two minutes. We wandered round. £8 for a tea towel. Bargain. Off we headed to the bottom of Sandy Park for the food festival.

Somerset cider, meat pies from Bath, cheese from the Mendips you get the impression. In among the stands was one selling olive oil from southern Greece, from the Peloponnese to be exact - where the Greek hovel is situated. There was a card with a lot of horse about how the olives head from tree to press within 18 hours making the oil that much better. Horse say I. Pure horse. Olives are harvested and sacked. At the end of the harvest on each piece of land be it one day or several you takes the olives for pressing. It is cool in December in Southern Greece, perhaps a degree below zero at night. There is no rush to get your olives to the press.

For what it is worth, the oil was a pale yellow with no green tinge and utterly bland in taste. So much for all its special qualities. Horse say I and horse again. But what about the price? You could buy 200 ml bottles, 500 mil bottles or - the best value - 2* 500 ml bottles for a mere £20. Twenty fucking quid!!!! In Kambos we sell our oil - which tastes far better - to the co-operative for just under £3 a litre and the local producers make a gross profit margin of around 60%, including labour costs, even at that level! £10 just try and work out the markup on that one? The stand older was avin a giraffe. The sort of margin he is making is right up there with that on heroin importation and his oil is not even that good.

I bit my lip. It does not make me want to go into olive oil in a commercial sense. It just makes me think how silly, pampered and detached from the real world of the soil and the field, the British middle classes have become.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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