Olive Oil is one of my favorite healthy fats. I use it daily at almost every meal. I even use it to soften up my hands or to shave. The stuff is a centerpiece for my dietary lifestyle happenings. But lately, I’ve found myself more and more frustrated over trying to figure out if my olive oil is even real olive oil at all. Deep and brazen accusations have risen up in recent years claiming that the olive oil industry is as tainted as any industry ever has been. Some authorities put forth that my olive oil might not even be actual olive oil, but instead, sunflower oil. Wait, what?
It is true. The olive oil industry is full and ripe with scammers. The Italian mafia is now being called out as being involved, which isn’t good, because I really don’t want to get “whacked” for complaining, but I do think we need to figure out what the heck is going on.
A new 60 Minutes episode is going to expose the mafia connection in the food industry (hint, it isn’t just olive oil they are inflating and degrading). It is the entire food chain.
So what are we buying after the mafia gets their hands on our extra virgin olive oil? How about deodorized oil, or some real good olive oil mixed with some junk oil, or maybe just any random seed oil. Oh and don’t forget about how many bottles are contaminated with pesticides and people who are allergic to seed oils. They just add a little cloriphyll for color and then it hits our shelves and we pay a good $7 or $8 a bottle for it, at least. For the mafia, the profit line is insanely good, better than selling cocaine. A good olive oil, the real thing, goes for $50 / gallon. But fakes go for around $7 a gallon. The incentive to scam us, fleece us and compromise our health is obvious.
One olive oil producer near Sicily defied the mafia by selling directly to distributors. They burned his car. They tried to intimidate him. Still many olive oil producers are revolting and fighting back.
So how much olive oil is degraded? In the United States, it is believed to be up to 80%. Here is the piece from 60 Minutes.
So what does any of this means? Well, in my opinion, it means the issue is complicated. I’ve heard the rumblings regarding this issue for years and honestly felt that buying bottles listed as “from Italy” and “made in Italy” prevented issues. But that no longer seems to be the case at all. And there really isn’t a hard list on which Italian olive oils are tainted. I currently buy the 365 Brand (Whole Foods brand). But now I am going to opt for California blends to be safe.
I’ve tasted some run of the mill, generic olive oils and felt they tasted bad. Due to this, I have always been under the impression that I would “know” when one was bad. But that doesn’t seem to be the case as it seems these scammy producers have found ways to trick even the palates of experts. To be honest, this is a total let down, I eat more calories from olive oil than any other food I can think of. But until it gets worked out, it is California oils for me only. I’d prefer not taking any risk, or supporting any scammers, or compromising my health unnecessarily.