`California State Fair Gets USDA Funding to Host Olive Oil Competition - Olive Oil Times

California State Fair Gets USDA Funding to Host Olive Oil Competition

Jan. 29, 2015
Sukhsatej Batra

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The California State Fair cel­e­brates the best the Golden State has to offer through annual com­pe­ti­tions for beer, wine, cheese, bak­ing, can­ning and live­stock.

This year, the 161-year-old fair added a new com­pe­ti­tion to cel­e­brate its agri­cul­tural diver­sity – the California State Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition with $115,000 pro­vided by the US Department of Agriculture under its Specialty Crop Grant Program.

According to the USDA, the pur­pose of the Specialty Crop Grant Program is to enhance the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the spe­cialty crops”. The California Department of Food and Agriculture received a total of $19,881,478 in grants under this pro­gram to cover a host of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts pro­duced in the state of California.

Some of the fund­ing allot­ted to strengthen the California olive indus­try will go towards edu­cat­ing pro­duc­ers on aspects of olive pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing as well as to pro­mote sale of olive oil pro­duced in California.

The $115,000 fund­ing received by California State Fair will be used to orga­nize its first EVOO com­pe­ti­tion to pro­mote California olive oil and edu­cate the pub­lic on olive oil indus­try stan­dards, label­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing qual­ity.

The Los Angeles County Fair also hosts an annual com­pe­ti­tion and it was unclear what impact, if any, the new com­pe­ti­tion would have on the pop­u­lar­ity of the L.A. com­pe­ti­tion among the California pro­duc­ers who rep­re­sent a large share of its entries.

The Fair is invit­ing olive oil pro­duc­ers to sub­mit entries to the Cal Expo by April 1, 2015.

Requirements for entry into the com­pe­ti­tion are straight­for­ward: Only com­mer­cially avail­able EVOOs pro­duced from olives grown, pressed and packed in California are eli­gi­ble for the com­pe­ti­tion.

Producers of olive oil can enter by pay­ing an $80 fee and sub­mit­ting four bot­tles of their EVOO pro­duced in the cur­rent har­vest sea­son. Producers iden­tify the classes of their entries based on the promi­nent cul­ti­var. Extra vir­gin olive oils entered in the sin­gle or blend divi­sions may come under del­i­cate, medium or robust cat­e­gories. Citrus, herbs, chili or other fla­vored EVOOs can also be entered in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Judging of the olive oils will take place on May 7, 2015 after the oils have under­gone lab test­ing and pre­lim­i­nary screen­ing. Blind judg­ing of the oils will be con­ducted by judges who only have access to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion code, divi­sion and class of the EVOO sam­ples, accord­ing to the orga­niz­ers.

Producers have a chance to win a gold, sil­ver or bronze medal in addi­tion to the best of class, best of divi­sion and best of show awards. Winners of the com­pe­ti­tion will be announced at the fair in July.


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