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The Spicy Olive

Committed to Improving Health and Eating, One Bottle at a Time

In 2006, Melanie Cedargren took a trip that changed her life. What started as a family vacation to Tuscany turned into a passion for making the healthiest and best tasting olive oils available to the northern Cincinnati and South Dayton areas.

While in Tuscany, she visited a vineyard for a traditional wine dinner. She learned that the vintner interspersed olive trees between sections of grape vines. If the grapes were somehow affected by disease, the olives would act as a break, preventing spread to the rest of the vineyard.

This meant that the vineyard had a supply of fresh olives that it crushed to make olive oil. Cedargren was struck by the difference between the fresh product and what she had been able to buy in the stores in the U.S. “I was stunned,” she said.

Once home, she saw a similar business to what would become The Spicy Olive, a gourmet olive oil store, and she began to investigate. A former pharmaceutical sales rep, she had experience in selling anti-inflammatory drugs. Some research uncovered the fact that olive oil can have the same anti-inflammatory effects as prescription medications, with the benefit of coming from food, rather than a pill bottle.

The magic is in the biophenols, phytochemicals that are naturally present in the olive and which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The higher the biophenol count, the more effective they are. This is why Cedargren lists biophenol and polyphenol counts on her oils in the store.

She also notes that olive oils can be hurt by heat, air, light, and time. “What is commercially available may not be healthy,” she said, encouraging consumers to exercise caution when buying from grocery stores and the like. For example, an olive oil stored in a clear glass container (rather than a colored one that blocks light) and displayed under fluorescent lights could have been damaged and lost its effectiveness. Additionally some olive oils also contain additives that the consumer may not want.

The Spicy Olive got its start when Cedargren started working with Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures), an organization that helps female entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. She took advantage of their educational programs, and her business started to grow. “Every step I took, a door opened,” she said.

One of the first doors that opened was that of her first store, which launched in West Chester in 2012. “The business has done really well,” she said. She soon added two additional locations, currently located in Oakwood and Montgomery.

The Spicy Olive is about more than just olive oil. Going back to her original inspiration, Cedargren now sells wine, and she has hosted several successful virtual wine tastings. The stores also stock aged balsamic vinegars, perfect pairings with the olive oils that she features.

It is easy to see how anyone could visit Tuscany and leave inspired by the food and climate. Cedargren, however, took this inspiration a step further; and now she brings the health benefits of olive oils to consumers all around the South Dayton and northern Cincinnati areas.

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