In the December issue of 605 Magazine, contributor Kelsey Bewick discusses the health – and flavor – benefits of fresh olive oil with Charles Walsh. Walsh is co-owner of Casper, Wyoming-based Vita Sana Olive Oil Company, which recently opened a second location in Rapid City.

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In this web extra, we talk with manager Rhonda Mumm about what makes Vita Sana a unique West River shopping experience.

What makes your store one-of-a-kind in western South Dakota?

RM: The fact that our oil oils are pure extra virgin olive oils. We carry oil from both the northern and southern hemispheres. Through the winter, I’ll carry the southern hemisphere’s which are Peru, Chile and Australia, because that’s what’s freshest. It was harvested this summer. The northerns are being harvested right now. Then they’ll come back in March or April.

What sets your oils apart?

RM: All my OO’s are unfiltered and unsettled, so they have all the good stuff in them. The good stuff are polyphenols and antioxidants that are present in all extra virgin olive oil.

They all have a high smoke point of 400, 425 degrees – as opposed to 260 degrees. That’s because the standard for EVOO has always been .8 percent free fatty acids. All of my olive oils have less than .2 percent free fatty acids. That’s what allows the higher smoke point. They’re really good for shallow frying or stir fry.

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Why is freshness important?

RM: Olive oil is going to be good up to two years after its harvested. So you really do want to get the freshest stuff. The polyphenols and antioxidants, they break down over time, so its only in the freshest that you’re going to get the full impact, the full health benefits – the stuff that helps lower your cholesterol, lowers your blood pressure. That’s only present in the freshest and only present in extra virgin olive oil.

Can you tell a difference in the flavor between fresh and older oil?

RM: All of my olive oils are real green. They taste fresh.

What is your top-selling oil?

RM: Tuscan herb is my top-selling olive oil. It’s got enough flavor to carry a pasta by itself. It’s got enough flavor to be a bread dipper. When you pair it with the peach [balsamic vinegar] it’s a great salad dressing.

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To learn more about Vita Sana Olive Oil Company and its products, click here.

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