Linda Costa has headed up her company OlivesInFact (Pty) Ltd since 2000. OlivesInFact serves the olive industry across a broad spectrum of services, ranging from advice and workshops on table olive processing as well as in olive oil tasting, process training and blending. She processes 8 tonnes of Kalamata olives annually on her smallholding, and also runs a small olive tree nursery just outside Stellenbosch.

Her story:

After having completed B.Sc (Hons) in Pharmacology (Biochemistry and Physiology majors) in Stellenbosch South Africa, I obtained an M.Sc (Experimental Pharmacology) in the UK, with the expressed intention of developing a ‘miracle’ drug to help the medical profession.

Today, some 40 years later, I am so grateful that my course changed. After a stint in wine microbiology research, I returned to my roots on the family olive farm, where my father and I expanded the processing facility to 700t of table olives per annum. During this time I realized that olive oil had evolved enormously since my childhood - my grandfather having produced the first olive oil in South Africa. The time when maximum oil yield was obtained from beautifully ripe fruit!

The ensuing journey into the world of EVOO was, and remains, delightful. I was lucky to discover the Savantes program, at the perfect time, to support a direction that felt like coming home. In conjunction, I was able to share my experience of table olive processing with producers in Australia and New Zealand with a series of workshops.

In 2005 a group of us attended a Panel Supervisors Course in Imperia, Italy so that we could establish a local tasting panel, and I have been an active olive oil taster ever since, attending various courses whenever possible.

My interest in the health aspect was piqued by a report published in about 2002/3, in the US referring to the 5 healthiest foods in the world – olive oil was there together with kimchi and yoghurt, and it dawned on me that table olives therefore contributed 60% of this list, being a naturally fermented product, with all the probiotics of yoghurt and kimchi, and, of course, olive oil!

It took a few years of presenting many tastings, courses and workshops to all interested parties, before I realized that I needed to add another dimension to the exciting chemistry of EVOO, viz the biochemistry – how the body benefitted. This resulted in me becoming a health coach, certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (US) in 2012.

This new information, layered on a scientific background, together with the seemingly hereditary passion for all things olive, crystallised into a knowing that we can live in a far better way – by taking back all spheres of our health.
The floodgates of information have opened as Integrative Medicine becomes the new way to a healthier, happier life.

And natural, antioxidant-rich EVOO appears to be far more important in this environment than previously appreciated.