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Brazilian Guidebook Profiles Local Producers

The second edition of a guide to Brazilian olive oils tells stories of the people behind the products.

Sandro Marques
Oct. 5, 2018
By Daniel Dawson
Sandro Marques

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After his first edi­tion was well received, Sandro Marques has pub­lished an updated ver­sion of his Brazilian olive oil guide­book with an edi­tion in English.

Recurring in all these sto­ries are people want­ing to recover an ancient tie they have with their grand­par­ents that came from Europe.- Felipe Cruz, Olave

“The main dif­fer­ence this year is that I really get to tell the sto­ries,” Marques, a member of the Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio D’Oliva and editor of Um Litro de Azeite, told Olive Oil Times. “People will look at the olive oil and will know who pro­duced it, how he or she started pro­duc­ing and why the olive oil is impor­tant for them.”

Marques wanted to expand upon the col­lec­tion of sto­ries he started hear­ing when he began research­ing for the first edi­tion of the book in 2016. Back then, his main goal was to create a writ­ten record of olive oil pro­duc­ers who were in Brazil.

“I noticed that our Brazilian pro­duc­tion was more or less con­sol­i­dated, but it was dif­fi­cult to find pro­duc­ers, where they were and I was very curi­ous about their sto­ries,” he said. “So by the end of 2016, I decided, since there was no data, that I was going to go out and get the data.”
See more: Award-win­ning olive oils from Brazil
Marques spoke to about 45 pro­duc­ers for the guide­book, all of whom are pro­duc­ing olive oil on a com­mer­cial level.

“There are of course many more pro­duc­ers in Brazil, but my cri­te­ria is a pro­ducer that already has a com­mer­cial brand with a label,” he said. “I want to help on the con­sumer end. I want con­sumers to know what good oil is and how it is pro­duced as well as who are the people who pro­duce it.”

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Marques began by con­tact­ing olive oil pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tions. However, many pro­duc­ers in Brazil are not asso­ci­ated with these groups, so he com­bined new and old meth­ods of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to find the rest: the phone book and social media plat­forms.

“It was really what we call in Portuguese a ‘small ant job,’ because we did it little by little until we finally had all the data,” he said.

Once all the pro­duc­ers were con­tacted, he had them send their sam­ples to his office in São Paulo where he tasted them and wrote his obser­va­tions. He also included a para­graph about the pro­ducer.

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In his latest edi­tion, Marques was able to go back and really talk to all of the pro­duc­ers to find out more of their sto­ries.

“I wanted to tell the story of Brazilian olive oil pro­duc­ers. About their lands and about the con­text in which they are pro­duc­ing,” he said. “There’s always a com­po­nent of pas­sion that strikes, even if the pro­ducer starts for com­mer­cial rea­sons.”

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He recounted one of the sto­ries that stuck in his mind the most. It was told to him by Joice Capoani, the grand­daugh­ter of Jandir, the latter of whom dreamed of his grandmother’s Italian olive groves for his entire life before finally plant­ing his own, well into his retire­ment years.

“Cheerful as a young boy, Jandir Capoani strolls around the grove with his grand­daugh­ters,” Marques writes in the book. “The trees help remind him of sto­ries of his ances­tors from Lombardy, who estab­lished them­selves in Bento Gonçalves at the begin­ning of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury.”

“Jandir founded a fac­tory, lived his whole life as an entre­pre­neur in the indus­trial seg­ment and it took him almost 80 years to rescue the ori­gins and pas­sion for olives that lived in his mem­o­ries… [Now] his grand­daugh­ters are taking an inter­est in the busi­ness, and the olive oil extracted this year makes a bridge between Jandir’s ances­tors and Olivia, his great-grand­daugh­ter, who will see this story writ­ten in the leaves of the trees of Fazenda Tarumã da Boa Vista.”

Marques said this theme of return­ing to a pre­vi­ous and ances­tral way of life was common among many of the pro­duc­ers with whom he spoke for the book.

“Since we’re a coun­try com­posed of immi­grants, what is very recur­ring in all these sto­ries [are] people want­ing to recover an ancient tie they have with their grand­par­ents that came from Europe,” he said. “They try to honor their ances­tors by cul­ti­vat­ing olive trees in Brazil. Almost every story has that com­po­nent.”

In spite of just having fin­ished this year’s edi­tion, Marques is already think­ing ahead to next year. He plans to expand the guide to include Brazilian oleo­tourism ven­tures, that are slowly spring­ing up around the coun­try.

“There were very few last year, there are quite a few this year and I already know there are people doing huge things for next year,” he said.

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