Just as Whole Foods claims everything in their store is GMO free when in reality that is far from the truth, many olive oil producers claim their oil is pure and extra virgin, even though that might not always be true. Even though the label may say “Cold pressed, organic, extra virgin olive oil, made in Italy,” the reality is you can’t find that criteria in an olive oil for $4.99 a bottle (unless the bottle is super tiny). The truth is some shady producers take rotten olives, or worse, soybean or canola oil and add chlorophyll or beta carotene to make the oil green—or they deodorize the oil to erase any bad smells or flavors. There are indeed olive oil “mafias” that try to control the many aspects of oil production in Italy and beyond, because it is a very lucrative product.
To add to the confusion, the average American palate cannot recognize the true flavor of olive oil, as their tastes have been eroded by the glut of mediocre olive oils. Olive oil commercials do more damage when they tell consumers to value a “mild smoothness” of flavor versus the robust, rich, fruity and peppery taste of good quality oil. There is indeed quite a bit of corruption in the olive oil industry, but that should never stop one for seeking the real deal, as the health benefits are astounding. Really amazing olive oil is very difficult and expensive to produce, but have hope–real olive oil is abundant and out there! There are ethical growers and producers that take their olive oil very seriously like an art form– from Italy, Spain, Palestine, and yes, California. I have listed some of my favorites below, based on research and taste tests. But if you want to really know the 5 tips on how to choose the best olive oil (and make sure it isn’t fake) check out my latest 5 minute video:
EXCELLENT OLIVE OILS (that pass the test for ethical standards and great flavor):