More Information : Olive Oil
The olive has been firmly established in the Mediterranean diet for over 7000 years.
Widely used throughout the Mediterranean Basin for its beautiful and lustrous wood, the olive tree was identified early on by the Mediterranean people as a gift from the gods. Besides being a precious food source, it was also used as a lighting oil for lamps and a salve for wounds. Priests anointed the faithful with olive oil, and the olive branch is known even today as a symbol of peace and honor.
According to Roman legend, Hercules strode along the shores of the Mediterranean, his olive staff sending out roots every time it struck the ground, and from those roots trees grew. With the help of Phoenician sailors, Hercules spread the olive trees westward from Asia Minor, where wild trees are indeed believed to have originated and cultivation to have begun as early as 7000 years ago. Some believe that olive trees were growing in Italy as early as 1200 BC; others believe they arrived closer to 600 BC.
The olive tree is an evergreen, with a normal life span of 300 to 600 years. Some botanists claim there are trees alive in the Mediterranean Basin that are over 1000 years old. There are currently about 800 million olive trees in the world.