Did you know that most of the olive oil in supermarkets is fake or counterfeit? Many so-called olive oils are a mix of cheap oils mixed with chemicals to cover up their smells and rancidity. Looking at weekly supermarket ads, you might find some enticing deals on so called extra virgin olive oil. Some places advertise cold pressed olive oil from Italy for as little as $3.99! Many might think this is an amazing deal, and stock up for years. Not only is this “deal” too good to be true, but stocking up for more than a year is a bad idea, as olive oils are meant to be eaten as fresh as possible. To be honest, a really good olive oil costs about $10 minimum just to produce alone, before bottling, branding, and marketing. So is $3.99 a good deal? Not really, because you get what you pay for.
Olive oil is one of the most tainted food products from the European Union—much of it is counterfeit. Even the most well intentioned shopper searching for “Cold pressed, organic, extra virgin olive oil, made in Italy,” can still be duped by the label. That oil with all of its enticing descriptions could very well be a subgrade oil that has nothing to do with olives and thus does not offer the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits nor the robust flavor of real olive oil.
Many counterfeit producers take rotten olives, or worse, soybean and add chlorophyll or beta carotene to make the oil green. They then deodorize the oil (by heating the oil at mild temperatures) to erase any bad smells or flavors. The literal mafia or big producers try to control many aspects of oil production in Italy–even when whistleblowers expose them and win in court. Even our own FDA cannot monitor whether the all oil you buy in the United States is truly organic or not.
As a result of years of this madness, western tastes have been eroded by the glut of mediocre olive oils, where consumers have been guided to value a general lack of flavor versus the robust, rich, fruity and peppery taste of good quality oil. Olives are a fruit, and just like we value the quality of fresh fruit juice, the same applies to olive oil. So how can one spot a good quality olive oil?
- Pay attention to the harvest date on the label. It’s a good sign when the label defines when the olives were harvested, and where the oil was produced, not just bottled or packed.
- The COOC seal, otherwise known as the California Olive Oil Commission is another good sign. Olive oils with this certification have passed chemical and taste tests set for California and have passed as 100% real extra virgin olive oil.
- Follow your own senses and take the time to smell and taste the oil. A rancid or tasteless flavor indicates a bad quality or tainted oil.
- Look for a single source country. The blended olive oils from many different countries in one bottle is a red flag, as it brings in more opportunities for lack of oversight
- Taste your olive oil first, by going to a local olive oil store near you. where often times they have tastings
- After you do all of this research you can find the olive oil you like and stick to it. Support these producers, as big box stores are trying to drive them out of business
- Do not put your olive oil in the refrigerator–not only will that damage the olive oil, but this is not a reliable test to see if the oil is authentic or not.
In my new video, I visit the Olive Bar to talk to expert olive purveyor Mike, about how he sources his olive oils, and what to look for. You can check out his olive oil picks here: https://www.theolivebar.com/
As for my personal pick, I absolutely love Harvest Peace! It is fair trade, organic, made from from ancient olive trees tended by Palestinian farmers that have been making olive oil for generations. I even took a bottle to Mike to get his opinion, and he was pretty impressed! You can get 10% off by using promo code BlancheTV at: https://harvestpeace.com/
This was my first video on this subject, which went pretty viral because this is such a hot topic!