Fresh Air | Losing 'Virginity': Olive Oil's 'Scandalous' Fraud

 

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Extra-virgin olive oil is a ubiquitous ingredient in Italian recipes, religious rituals and beauty products. But many of the bottles labeled "extra-virgin olive oil" on supermarket shelves have been adulterated and shouldn't be classified as extra-virgin, says New Yorker contributor Tom Mueller.


Mueller's new book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, chronicles how resellers have added lower-priced, lower-grade oils and artificial coloring to extra-virgin olive oil, before passing the new adulterated substance along the supply chain. (One olive oil producer told Mueller that 50 percent of the olive oil sold in the United States is, in some ways, adulterated.)


The term "extra-virgin olive oil" means the olive oil has been made from crushed olives and is not refined in any way by chemical solvents or high heat. [continue]

Tags: Fresh Air, NPR, eating, food, olive oil, radio, staples

Views: 177

Replies to This Discussion

Plain oil of any kind is kind of gross if you just eat it by itself. I once took a spoonful of EVOO and thought it was terrible. But you shouldn't get the metallic taste all the time. That just happens when you mix the OO with the albumen in the egg.

 

Sometimes that is what is wanted, like with an authentic aioli sauce, but personally, I don't like real aioli. Most of what you get as aioli at resturants is basically mayonnaise.

That's interesting.  It shows I have no taste - which I already knew.  I LOVE aioli.  As for olive oil, I like the Rao's brand.  It tastes very olivy to me.  The stuff at Costco that I fry my eggs in, I don't know, it's still kind of olivy but not as strong.  It's also more clear.  The eggs are home raised and have a super eggy flavor, so strong that store bought eggs have no flavor, in comparison, plus I pepper them like crazy, so maybe I just don't notice the metalic flavor.  I like to drip crusty bread in olive oil.  Plus, tonight, I'm boiling some spagetti (the brass-cut type for good adherence), then add raw garlic crushed in olive oil (this is from the local store, labeled "Private Selection Spanish", and some pecorino romano.  Even the dogs turn away from my breath, but Im be myself tonight and I love that stuff.

Joan, I meant to say the oils I preferred were Pompeian and Colavita (not Bertolli). I like both of those. But I did buy some Bertolli last time because they were buy-one-get-one-free, so I tried it. I like it fine. Nothing wrong with it, but I think I prefer the other two better. Pompeian being my fave.

Dallas, thanks for the clarification.  I will start with Pompeian.  

BTW, in this radio interview, he said he will take a baked potato, but it open and just put EVOO over it. Well, I just tried it. I salted it, of course, and then added some of the oil. It was scrumpdillyumptious.

Worth a try, thanks.

All extra virgin olive oils seem to taste the same to me but I do have a preference for those sold in glass bottles rather than plastic - I taste the difference here but I have an aversion to plastic. I try to re-use glass bottles when I can by sterilizing them and using them for home made sauces etc.

I am not surprised that yet another thing we eat is not real and we are basically lied to, it seems most things we buy from big chain stores made by large corporations are nothing but processed, fake crap. I recently read an article about orange juice and how its is made and it astounds me that we think it easier to open a carton of juice, pour it into a glass and then have to wash that glass using dish soap and hot water instead of just peeling or cutting an orange and eating it - and if organic nothing beats fresh.

But, while I cannot make my own olive oil, I have to trust what I buy off the shelves but the deception never ends.

So true, Sandi. In this interview he talks about how lack of regulation is driving legitimate growers out of business, because they can be undercut by dishonest producers labeling their product incorrectly.

 

If you can find that article on the orange juice, I'd love to see it. Please post.

Dallas, this is the link here:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/orange-juice-moms-secret-ingredient-wo...

"Different brands use different flavor packs to give their product its unique and always consistent taste. Minute Maid, for example, has a distinctive candy-sweet flavor"

It talks about 'flavor packs' that are used in the the process and it is the added flavor that concerns me. As I said, it is astounding that we pollute our bodies with fake stuff instead of just eating an orange. My juicer is now a permanent appliance on my kitchen counter.

This article and the book inspired me to look more into extra virgin olive oil.  Some of our local stores have quite a variety of brands.  I use it a lot on pasta mixed with marinated peppers, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, palm hearts. 

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There is a big difference in brands.  Some of the California ones are really good.  One of the stores here has an olive bar, and there they have extra virgin olive oil in individualized bottles, each with date of pressing and processing, and the olive variety name, the brand is Olivista.  That stuff is the best, smells great, is thick and has a green color, tastes "green" and "olivy" and a little peppery.  There are some other varietals here that are very good, even though store brand ("Private Selection".)  I like the "Italian" one, which contain Coratina and Leccino olives.  They also have a "Spanish" one and a "California" one.  Another one, "California Olive Ranch", has a more brownish color but good flavor.  All of these have a fair amount of sediment and are thick, but the Olivista so far is my favorite.

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Since the book states the majority of Italian olive oils are legally made from Spanish or African olives, shipped to Italy for processing, I'm not as impressed to see "Italian" on the label.   Nothing against Spanish or African olives, except the oil is best made from freshly picked olives picked from the tree, not picked up spoiling on the ground.  Maybe an advantage of the California olives is they are processed near the groves.  They machine pick them, grown like grapes in rows, to keep the cost down.  That way also the olives are not spoiling on the ground waiting to be picked up.  Whatever the case, I love that Olivista stuff.

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I also use EVOO to make foccacia.  Gives a wonderful texture and flavor.  I love that stuff.  The focaccia is just bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, water, and EVOO.  Sesame seeds on top.  The 2 of us go through a batch 2 or 3 times weekly.

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I'm about 2/3 through the book.  Very interesting.

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