So if you turn lemons into lemonade and sows’ ears into silk purses, what do you do with 100 gallons of leftover olive oil?
That was the dilemma that led the UC Davis Olive Center to link up with a young alumna and produce a new collection of olive-oil based body-care products, now available exclusively through the UC Davis Bookstore. Proceeds from the sale of the lotion, body butter, hand-cut soap and lip balm will support the olive center’s research and education program.
“These new products are all made with olive oil produced by the campus’s historic olive trees, using olives and olive oil that would otherwise have gone to waste,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center. “Along with our olive oils, they exemplify UC Davis’ commitment to sustainable living.”
Since 2005, UC Davis has been producing olive oil from its more than 2,000 olive trees. Before that, many of the olives from those trees in the campus landscape fell on bike paths and walkways, posing maintenance and safety challenges. By harvesting and processing the olives, the campus is now able to keep the olives out of the waste stream and generate revenue for teaching and research.
The UC Davis Olive Center was founded in 2008 as the first university-based olive research and education center in North America. It continues the university's century-old effort to assist California's olive producers and processors as their industry enters a renaissance, with novel farming techniques and rising consumer demand for olive oil and table olives. That center's collaborative efforts have produced research into new olive cultivars, mechanical harvesting, olive fruit fly control, olive processing and sensory evaluation of olive oil.
The olive center developed the body-care product line this fall after a demonstration olive pressing yielded two barrels of olive oil that would never find its way onto anyone’s dipping dish.
“It was premium olive oil, but because it was not processed in a facility certified for food production, we had to either find an alternate use for it or pour it down the drain,” said Flynn.
The olive center staff contacted Kacie Klein who, along with her husband Jeff, owns and operates Panacea Farms near Tracy. The Kleins both graduated from UC Davis, Kacie in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in design and Jeff in 2004 with a bachelor’s in managerial economics.
Kacie Klein produces and markets her own line of body-care products under the Panacea brand, using pomace, the olive solids that remain after most of the oil is pressed out. She agreed to take UC Davis’ leftover olive oil and use it to make a specially labeled line of products, providing the inaugural line of products at cost to the UC Davis Olive Center for sale at the campus bookstore. Profits from the sale of the products will be shared by the olive center and the bookstore.
Flynn notes that the products are rich in natural antioxidants and scented with a variety of botanical fragrances, from peppermint to fresh citrus. They are now being sold individually, ranging in price from $4 to $12.95 each. Nearer the holidays, a limited number of gift baskets also will be available.
The new body-care products are now being sold in the UC Davis Bookstore and can be ordered online from the bookstore’s “campus produced” section at: http://ucdavisbookstore.com/SiteText.aspx?id=9904.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide an olive-oil product that we believe will appeal to students,” Flynn said.
“Equally important, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate how a simple byproduct of olive processing can be used to produce a useful commodity,” he said.