During last month’s IDDBA17 Conference and Expo in Anaheim, California, I chanced upon Philosophy Foods and met its founders Karrie Kimble and David Yourd. As brand representatives of Losada and O-Med, Spanish producers of olives and olive oils, respectively, Philosophy Foods is committed to educating consumers in the United States and expanding the variety of artisan foods to which consumers in the states have access.
Their friendliness, wealth of knowledge, and willingness to share immediately disarmed me. But it was their products—heirloom varieties of olives and oils produced using a unique natural brining process—that won me over.
“Under third generation owner Luis Losada, they have taken the approach of creating an artisan olive brand with natural bine curing and unique heirloom varieties otherwise not represented in the U.S. Thus, creating an almost new category of Spanish olives available to U.S. consumers,” David explains.
While many growers in Spain outsource curing and packing to large-scale processors and co-packers, David tells me, Losada is committed to overseeing its own processes.
“Spain produces 35 percent of the world’s table olives, far ahead of any other country in the world, and that has created a large infrastructure in which most producers in Spain are concentrated on the commodity market. It is rare to find an olive exporter that represents the farm to table movement such as Losada,” David notes. “40 percent of our olives have been grown by us, and 100 percent have been cured in house. Losada covers all aspects of production from farming to curing, packing, and even importing. Essentially there is nobody in between the buyer and the tree…that is how we want it.”
And Losada’s focus on “natural brine curing” and cultivating heirloom varieties not otherwise available in the U.S. has primed the company to take advantage of consumer trends toward farm-to-fork eating experiences and artisanal, clean label products.
So, I have to ask: What exactly is natural brine curing, and how is Losada’s approach distinct from others in the industry?
“Natural brine curing is the debittering of olives in a solution of just salt and water—contrary to the conventional way of curing of green olives in Spain, which is typically done with lye (caustic soda),” David says, noting that, while Losada produces by both methods, Philosophy Foods’ focus is on promoting naturally cured olives that the company feels best represent the nuances of the fruit rather than the curing agents involved.
And, though Losada produces a variety of more traditional olives as well, David tells me that the company is currently proud to offer three varieties of olive that are not extensively exported to the U.S., among them:
In addition to Losada olives, Philosophy Foods is also engaged in bringing O-Med olive oils and vinegars—award-winning products used by notable chefs like David Chang, Ignacio Matos, and Ludo Lefebvre—to American kitchens.
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