In Albania, as in many developing countries, being organic is and has been a way of life long before it became a trend. Due in part to tradition, the lack of access to and the inability to afford non-natural fertilizers and pesticides many farmers continue to farm organically. Most of the Albanian grown produce you find in roadside vegetable stands is organic even if it isn't labeled as such. If you mention the phrase "organic" to many Albanians they don't understand what you are saying since farming in this country is by default, organic. As Albania develops and becomes more western, however, there is a growing trend towards the labeling and marketing products as being organic.
|Olive oil ready to be exported
The olive oil factory set up was impressive. Olive harvest season is during the late fall so olive oil wasn't being produced during our visit. We were still able to see the large cleaning and processing tanks where olives from four different southern Albanian locations (Elbasan, Fier, Vlora, and Himara) are brought in and pressed into extra virgin olive oil. At peak operation, the factory has the capacity to process 17.5 tons of olives an hour resulting in 5,000 tons of olive oil each season. (Imagine what that pile of pits looks like!) We were also able to go into the underground storage cellar where the freshly pressed oil is stored in temperature controlled tanks before being packaged in tins and shipped off to distributors.
|Cows on the farm
|Organic Albanian products
Like most stores and restaurants in Albania, the prices at both the NatYral Farm and NatYral Restaurant are shockingly low by American standards. These prices make it so affordable to eat quality, organic products that it is a shame not to. It is foods like these that make it so easy to eat well in Albania.