The most political food in the world

Palestine (Jenin)

In 2004 a small group of activists used their European passports to provide Palestinian farmers with safe passage to their olive trees in the occupied territories. By acting as a human shield against the onlooking Israel authorities they wanted to help Palestinian rural communities reclaim their voices.

If the farmers were unable to pick their olives, their dwindling rights would become non-existent. Once picked, the olives would lie rotting in the sun. With no means of production or market for the crops, what else could they do?

That’s when the activists turned to business for the answer, and Zaytoun, the world’s first Fairtrade cooperative-producing Palestinian olive oil, was born. 

Palestine produces some of the finest olive oils in the world, but the award-winning Zaytoun faces huge challenges – not least that glass bottle manufacturing is banned in the occupied territories. The devastation in Gaza has created a difficulty of movement and loss of land or being unable to access it due to the separation barrierHowever, the social enterprise is growing and their product range is expanding.

It’s been said that olive oil from the West Bank is ‘the most political food in the world‘. Made from some of the planet’s oldest olive trees,  Zaytoun (the Arabic for olives) provides dignity and hope to the farmers as well as a fair income. It can be found in all Traidcraft and many health food shops all over the UK and Ireland.

AtlasAction: Dip your flatbread in the taste of pure hope and support their olive tree planting project.

Zaytoun was mapped by Louise Ash in her AtlasChart: 5 projects with Meaning. 

Written by

Louise Ash, Event DIrector, The Meaning People (30 October 2017)


Accidental ethical business geek Louise Ash is the organiser of Meaning conference – a way of sharing stories about what happens when business is brave enough to think differently.

Project leader

Manal Ramadan, Managing Director and Heather Masoud, Company Director

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