Olive oil currently stands at a $720 million industry in the United States alone. The meteoric rise of the oil over the past few years has everything to do with its many known health benefits. People have started to realize that they should not be consuming harmful, unhealthy vegetable oil, and would rather consume an oil that has been shown to fight breast cancer, protect against stroke, and possess many anti-inflammatory benefits.
Olive Oil You Buy is Often Low-Quality and Fake
Tom Mueller, the author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, explains how an undercover cop let him in on the whole olive oil scandal. Many olive oils created by profit-seeking companies actually contain harmful and unneeded chemicals added to disguise the cheap olive oil with artificial flavoring. Consumers are quick to respond to quick-sell labels like ‘Made in Italy’ and ‘Cold Pressed’, but what they don’t know is that these low quality olive oils are shipped to stores that don’t undergo rigorous quality control.
“I was sitting in a dark bar with an undercover cop in Italy, and he was telling me about deals being cut with high-level politicians and millions of dollars in EU subsidies being misappropriated…He was speaking in this hushed tone, and I had to laugh, because this was not black-market plutonium or drugs, this was olive oil,” Mueller said.
Of course this information can’t be too surprising seeing as other ‘healthy’ products such as honey have been found to be fake and nutrient-depleted. The study showed that at least a whopping 3/4 of the honey sold in the US is not real honey according to Food and Drug Administration standards. Not only that, but many ‘natural’ cereal products have been caught containing pesticides and genetically modified foods.
Next time you shop for olive oil be sure to notice a few things:
- ‘Extra-Virgin’ holds little meaning – The term ‘extra-virgin’ simply means the product requires a chemical and sensory component. The chemical component means the product is freshly and properly made and the sensory component says it can not have a bad smell or taste as well as perceptual fruitiness. Anything can be sold as extra-virgin, and it could be made poorly and cheaply. Extra-virgin olive oil should smell fruity without any mustiness.
- ‘Pure’ – When olive oil touts ‘pure’ on the label it means it has been refined and processed with chemicals. The oil is actually less pure than before, and now is refined and chemically altered.
- Price Tag – Generally speaking, olive oil should not be really inexpensive. The product itself is quite pricey to produce, so a very inexpensive olive oil may actually be cheap, low quality olive oil.
- Buy from a company you trust – Many companies are actually owned by larger mega-corporations. Many mega corporations like Kraft have begun releasing products under brands that appear to be environmentally and health conscious, yet they utilize the same dirty tricks of their parent companies through deceptive labeling and incomplete information. Stick with companies you know genuinely care about selling a quality product.
Unfortunately consumers have to really be on the lookout when shopping these day, even when shopping for healthy products.