It's great when good food does good. When it's kind to its environment; when it's created using no artificial preservatives, pesticides or chemical treatment; and when it gives back to society.
Querubi does all three and more. Made a stone's throw from the French Pyrenées, this estate-bottled olive oil is not only delicious and certified organic, but its business model has a unique way of improving the lives of disenfranchised and disadvantaged children on our doorstep in the UK. It offers them a route back from the fringes of society and a chance to turn their lives around through hands-on mentoring at Domaine de Querubi.
So how is a Southern French olive oil connected to the lives of these British children? It begins with a Dutchman, Willem Voorvaart, and his passion for a beautiful organic olive oil. Having purchased a farm, he set about turning it into 500 hectares of sustainably planted olive groves, with natural pest control and a classically low-intervention style of farming and land management for its Poumal, Verdale, Piccholine and Oliviere olive varieties.
The resultant olive oil is created in small batches and designed to showcase Southern French olives at their absolute best. While some mainstream olive oil brands play fast and loose with their production methods and bottle product that shouldn't be labelled as such, Querubi retains full control of its production methods, from farming to pressing, bottling and labelling. That means a wonderfully grassy, verdant olive oil with a smooth texture and a fresh, pleasantly astringent aftertaste – unequivocally the genuine article. That's why Querubi was the winner of two gold medals at the prestigious London International Health Olive Oil Competition this year, for overall oil quality and oil health benefits.
The Querubi Camp
The side of Querubi's business that really sets it apart is the one that's at its heart: the willingness to use its product to make genuine change in the lives of those less fortunate. The Querubi Camp works with charities in the UK to give four different groups of eight teenagers the chance to work and live on the farm, being mentored by its staff and having the chance to regain structure in their lives. As well as engaging in some light farm work, the teenagers are introduced to challenging sports: canyoning, abseiling, hiking in the mountains, scuba diving and kayaking in the Mediterranean, as well as – crucially – the chance to form bonds with the other camp members and staff.
All of this adds up to a project that's so much more than the sum of its parts – one that's about more than just great produce and sensitive farming, but the capacity to change lives, too.