The Olive Oil Scam and How To Know If Your Olive Oil Is Real
Olive oil can be one of the most nutritious healthy fats to incorporate into your diet. Unfortunately, the majority of brands found at your local grocer are selling rancid products cut with other oils turning the olive oil from superfood to highly inflammatory. The olive oil scam is a global issue, so let’s explore the benefits of olive oil, and how to ensure your product is the real stuff.
Benefits of Olive Oil
Pure, extra-virgin live oil is truly a superfood. Real olive oil is rich in monosaturated fats, antioxidants, and polyphenols. These antioxidants and polyphenols carry a wide range of health benefits, including:
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Lowered risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s
- Decreased risk of arthritis
- Reduced risk of obesity
- Less risk of stokes
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Reduced oxidative stress
- Beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
- Promotes longevity
The key to reaping all these incredible benefits, however, is that your olive oil is indeed pure. Although the labels might suggest that your beautiful imported olive oils are extra-virgin, a large scale global investigation into the quality of imported olive oils suggests otherwise.
Italian brands have been scamming us
Not all olive oil is created equal, and to reap the benefits, you have to ensure that your olive oil is fresh, pure, organic, and cold-pressed. Unfortunately, we cannot trust the labels
The olive oil industry is worth 1.5 billion dollars in America alone. Many of these brands boast international oils, commonly Italian brands– which have been notoriously scamming their customers for over a decade.
It was in 2008 that over 400 Italian police officers were involved in an undercover operation to bust an olive oil scam. “Operation Golden Oil” led to the arrest of two dozen people and the shut down of 85 farms across Italy. Unfortunately, the olive oil scene is still full of lies. Olive oil is being mixed with cheaper oils (like soybean and canola oil), and dyed with ingredients like chlorophyll to give it a green hue.
The olive oil scam was such a widespread global issue that the Australian government created olive oil standards. They formed an agency where olive oil companies could submit their products to be certified “pure extra-virgin olive oil.” Every imported olive oil product submitted up to 2012 failed the purity test.
In 2018 UC Davis tested the purity of 124 olive oil samples from eight popular brands of extra-virgin olive oil, and over 70% of them came back as impure.
The Problem With Impurity
The problem with this is that nut and seed oils (like soybean and canola) are highly inflammatory to humans. These heat-sensitive oils turn rancid under even the slightest amount of processing, so an otherwise healthy fat can become very toxic.
In the rare instances when olive oil is 100% pure, it is often spoiled from being shipped and stored for such long durations. The olive oil industry’s distribution system is designed for sending the oil as inexpensively as possible. The oil is exported via slow-boat cargo ships through a maze-like distribution chain. This shipping process makes it near impossible for you to get your hands on delicious fresh-pressed olive oil.
The older olive oil becomes, the more flavor and anti-inflammatory power it loses. Olive oil is at its peak within the two or three months after its pressing. Unfortunately, few labels carry bottling dates or ‘use by’ dates, let alone pressing times. Studies show that after 12 months, many of the oil’s healing compounds are almost completely gone.
Investigations into these scams suggest that the adultering of the oil happens before importing. The brands themselves may be unaware that the product they are buying isn’t extra-virgin olive oil. Directing the blame on someone doesn’t matter… the key is not ingesting them!
How To Tell If Your Olive Oil Is Real
Unfortunately, going by taste alone is likely not the way to tell if your olive oil is real. The olive oil scam has been going on for so long that even experts have been unable to distinguish pure olive oils from the fakes in blind taste tests. Experts speculate on how to identify a real oil from a scam (like the fact it might solidify slightly when cooled). However, the reality is that there is only one way to ensure your olive oil is indeed pure, honestly: know the farmer.
Know The Farmer
Knowing your farmer is the only accurate way to guarantee that the quality of your olive oil is indeed pure. Since most of the adultering happens before importing, getting back to the source is imperative.
Since most big brands import from various farms, there is no way to tell the quality, and it could change from batch to batch. Knowing the farmer can also be difficult if you live in an area that doesn’t have olives growing.
There are, however, individual companies that operate with complete transparency from farm to bottle, enabling you to know exactly what is going into your kitchen cupboard.
The $1 Bottle of My Favorite Real Olive Oil
J. Robinson, aka “The Olive Oil Hunter ®,” is one of the world’s most respected authorities on all matters related to olive oil. When he speaks, top chefs and culinary experts listen. Known for his “platinum palate,” he is one of the few Americans invited to serve as a judge in prestigious Italian olive oil tasting competitions. But this isn’t just about taste. T.J. understands the problems that impact most olive oil, like photo-oxidation and rancidity.
These days he is dedicated to importing rare fresh-pressed olive oil, the most flavorful and healthiest extra virgin olive oil on the planet, until now virtually impossible to obtain year-round in the U.S. That’s why I’m excited to share his latest discovery—and a special deal he’s giving exclusively for our community, on the “world’s best olive oil.”
Check out my insightful interview with TJ Robinson, AKA “The Olive Oil Hunter” here:
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