We had the good fortune of connecting with Rita Joubran and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rita, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
There are so many things about the olive oil business that consumers are not aware of-where do I even begin? We live in a day and age where so many products are mass produced, over-processed, and altered. This is especially the case when it comes to olive oil. Did you know, for example, that there is more olive oil on store shelves than there is production every year? That’s scary to me because olive oil isn’t made to be saved, it isn’t at all like wine. The fresher the better, always. I suggest consumers research their source and really read labels. In today’s world many olive oils are blended with other oils or have been altered. I always find it amusing that I may pick up a bottle that says “made in X” (I do not want to name brands) but then it says that the olives came from countries Y and Z. Do they really know how those olives were harvested? As someone who really cares about what I put into my body, I find it very important to understand what I’m buying.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Old Country Olive Oil is a very special product in so many ways. We pride ourselves in the fact that our olives are hand-picked and pressed within 4-6 hours. Our olive oil is unrefined (no heat goes into the process), and unfiltered, which, in my opinion, makes for a richer, more enhanced flavor. It makes me very proud to be able to hand you a bottle, look you in the eye, and be able to say that I made this. I was there every step of the way overseeing the entire process from picking, to pressing, to bottling. Oh, and the icing on the cake is that we donate $5 of every bottle we sell to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Making Old Country Olive Oil is one of my biggest pleasures in life. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love while giving back to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to my sister’s house to hang out, because that’s where the party never stops! It’s like my big fat Lebanese wedding 24/7. A NASA trip has to be on top of the list of places to visit. But there are many close seconds, depending on the visitor’s interests. Museums, historical sites, hike and bike trails, or a quick trip to Galveston right on the Gulf of Mexico. For a great breakfast or a delicious lunch, I would have to take them to Abdallah’s Bakery and Deli, our family’s restaurant run by my mom and my brother in law. It’s a hole in the wall but the food is authentic and delicious. If one would like to venture out for dinner and light Lebanese entertainment, Beyroot is “the place to be”, literally.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would have to say that I have always been blessed with an immeasurable support system. Ever since I was a young girl, my grandmother used to always tell stories about her olive trees. She made olive oil seem like a magic potion that would fix anything! She swore that it made her joints better (she was way ahead of her time because studies now show that extra virgin olive oil is a natural anti-inflammatory). When I showed interest in taking over the olive oil business, she taught me everything I needed to know on how to make an exceptional product. I still hear her voice during harvest and I feel her presence in the groves. I am also grateful for my husband who believed in my vision from day 1 and has been my biggest cheerleader. Word of mouth has been my biggest advertisement. I always found it strange to see celebrities, chefs, and/or influencers get paid to talk about a product. When I see the word “sponsored”, I just skip it. I can not tell you how many times I have turned down offers to be on a cooking segment, “for a small fee.” Which brings me to this very special shoutout-Marcia Smart from Smart in the Kitchen. I am so grateful to her for seeing the quality of my brand and its potential. Marcia teaches simple recipes using whole foods and the fact that she loves Old Country Olive Oil and uses it in her own kitchen, gave me the confidence that I needed. It’s one thing when your grandmother tells you it’s good, but when Marcia says it’s good-you know it’s unbiased!

Website: www.oldcountry-oliveoil.com
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