Have you heard of the recent report that millions of European song birds die every year when places like Spain, Italy and France harvest the olives to make olive oil?
This process is done at night using a big tractor type vacuum. The big shining and blinding lights disorientate birds that are roosting in the bushes, they get confused and sadly end up being sucked in to the machines along with the olives. "There can be as many as 100 dead birds in each harvest trailer" The Independent reports. In Andalusia in Spain, 2.6 million birds are killed every winter by this form of harvesting. Our native British birds like robins, greenfinches, warblers and wagtails are among the highest causalities. Most likely a reason why we have seen a decline in Green finches in our gardens. Why don't they use the machines in the daytime when the birds aren't roosting and won't be dazzled by the lights? This was my first thought and I'm sure it was yours too. Apparently in cooler temperatures (like night time) it tends to preserve the aromatic flavours! But what about Greek olive farming? Well, in Greece it is a yearly tradition to gather friends and family in November to handpick the Olives, the temperature is cooler, and it's a tradition that dates back hundreds of years. It is an arduous task, but this is a traditional ritual and one that thankfully farmers in Greece still continue to do. Alternative and homegrown in the British countryside is Rapeseed oil. Surely this has to be a better option? Well perhaps not, intensively farmed rapeseed means that some of the British farmers grow rape in fields once every three years instead of the recommended once every five years. To maximise yield and profitability farmers use a high application of nitrogen fertiliser, some of which goes into our waterways. Rapeseed is also very prone to large numbers of insects and desease which means harmful fungicides and pesticides are used to control it. So I guess my choice would be handpicked olive oil or organically grown rapeseed oil. What do you think? Will you be making a change? Here is a link that show some of the places you can buy Olive oil that is hand picked. https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/food-drink/olive-harvesting-bird-deaths Thanks to my cousin Kelly who lives in Greece for all her help with this.