Fine Art Photographer Christos J Palios is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. From his project ‘The Gold Of Greece‘. To see Christos’ body of work click on any image.
It’s compelling how much olive oil Greeks consume. Even more captivating is the value they place on this age-old elixir. Production has historically played a vast role in commerce and remains steeped in family and culture. Sale and local barter of this sacred fruit have provided families both income and sustenance during periods of economic hardship, particularly among Greece’s prevailing conflicts.
The prevalence of the tabletop olive understates its longstanding origin and labor in cultivation, even among today’s mechanized world. From September through February, cultivation is a principle occupation for countless families and monks throughout Greece. In these autumnal months, laborious undertakings begin by self-proclaimed stewards of the land in hopes of reaping bountiful harvests for the winter months.
Oil extraction takes place at an elaiotriveio—ελαιο-τριβειο, a compound noun formed from “olive” + “crushing”, colloquially “olive press”—and involves four rudimentary steps: washing, crushing, kneading, and centrifugal separation. These steps may consist of ancient techniques using traditional materials, the facility of modern machines, or a combination of both.
The venerated olive tree encapsulates the tireless tradition ingrained within each generation’s forebears. Harvests from ancient, healthy trees continue to bear fruit for generations. What about this tradition compels young and old alike to annual physical exertion in these few months? Is it mere survival that fuels this shared familial endurance?
By Christos J Palios