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California olives

An ancient crop finds new life in kitchens across the country


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You would be hard-pressed to find another food that can rival the olive for its longevity here in California. The first cuttings arrived in 1769, and as most transplants do, they responded quite well to the state's sunny days and cool nights. Fast-forward to present day, and when you're talking about planting roots with olives, you have to include Dennis Buresson. He's been farming olives at his ranch in Glenn County for more than 40 years.

California farmers like Dennis produce more than 95 percent of the olives grown in the United States, and from September to November, olive orchards are abuzz with harvest activity. Whether picked by hand or machine, all of Dennis' fruit goes to one location: the Musco Family Olive Co. in Tracy, where they've been curing olives since 1942.

As busy as the orchards are, Musco is equally busy: They process upwards of 35,000 tons of olives each year from the more than 250 growers they work with. With a company that size, investing in the future is top of mind, and for Musco, that means sustainability. The company generates renewable energy from olive pits, recycles much of their water through a closed-loop system and uses the excess salt from processing to grow a special hay that local dairy farmers use for feed.

"We're looking generations out, and properly managing that now sets our company in a fantastic position to do that and do it responsibly," said Musco's John Pierelti. "This 300 acres we have here—we're going to be here for a long time!"

For more information about the Musco Family Olive Co., visit www.olives.com.


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