What does certified organic actually mean?

Il circolo stands (among other things) for the annual rings of our centuries-old olive trees growing on the slopes of Monte Iblei in southern Sicily. Just like the tree, our company starts with the first annual ring. The smallest circle around which everything else revolves. As far as we are concerned, these are the olive groves and the local farmers who have cultivated the olive trees and the soil with love and care for generations. 

 

EU organic farming label

Our olive oil has the EU organic farming label. This means that the farmers with whom we work do not use artificial fertiliser or pesticides and process the olives in a completely mechanical way. To be honest, it is quite a challenge for us to find certified farmers in Sicily. Many farmers in Sicily do not use fertilisers – and certainly not artificial fertilisers, because they are simply too expensive. One of the reasons why farmers do not get their land and olive oil certified is that it takes a long time (about 5 years) to get the EU organic farming label. Maintaining the EU organic label also involves procedures and obligations – some of which recur annually – that are cumbersome and involve costs that are too high for many farmers. In addition, there is hardly any price incentive, as the sale of olive oil (via wholesalers) hardly reflects the price difference for organic olive oil. 

 

We think it is important to highlight this side of the EU label here, too, in order to understand that it is not within the – financial and administrative – possibilities for all farmers to be certified organic, and that this may create an uneven playing field. At the same time, we fully support the idea of the EU label giving consumers a certain guarantee that agricultural products are organic and that farmers operate in a certain way.  

 

We are proud that il circolo offers 100% organic Sicilian olive oil. You can be sure that our olive oil never contains any chemical residues. The entire production process – from olive growing to bottling – is under our own control and every litre of olive oil can be traced back to its origin. 

 

And we do more…

Curious about what more can be done to make our business more sustainable, we are now experimenting with farmers to reduce CO2 emissions. That is not always easy. Over the years – and across generations – the farmers have developed certain ways of working that sometimes do not correspond to the latest scientific insights and our idea of regenerative agriculture. 

 

CO2 negative

Where soil management in Sicily consists of ploughing the soil, we want to introduce a minimum tillage whereby we mow more and plant more ground covers. All pruning waste is shredded and together with what falls off the trees it serves to feed the soil around the olive trees. In this way, we contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We also use solar energy wherever possible and compensate for CO2 emissions from transport. For example, il circolo olive oil is even CO2 negative: every litre of olive oil produced by il circolo reduces greenhouse gas emissions to around 5 kg of CO2. 

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