Olive Oil Exposed

Tom Mueller began his 13 August 2007 New Yorker article, Slippery Business, with an incident that is sadly typical.

Two decades ago a tanker freighter filled with hazel nut oil in Turkey eventually arrived in Italy, where the cargo was described on official ship documents as olive oil from Greece. Passing through customs unchallenged it was bottled, perhaps as part of a blend, and sold to consumers as real olive oil.

The author provides convincing evidence of widespread fraud that continues both in Europe and the United States. Over the last five years he’s continued researching the subject worldwide.

Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller, W.W. Norton, 2012, is a fascinating book and a must-read for both food lovers and health advocates.

He not only uncovers the abuses in the industry but also highlights individuals who are attempting to reform and promote the benefits of an authentic high-quality product. He interviews both those accused, and in some cases convicted, of selling lampante (lamp oil) as extra virgin, and others who continue to champion practices and safeguards that will insure the sale of honest and healthful olive oil.

Some of the largest Italian distributors of olive oil are supplying inferior oil to consumers through supermarkets nationwide.  Too often the Italian flags and appellation found on bottles is part of the scam. Mueller writes that more than half of what is sold in the United States, a rapidly growing and totally unregulated market, is bogus.

He includes advice about shopping and storing extra virgin olive oil and lists sources he believes are reliable in his book as well as his web site.

I was glad to find several growers and bottlers in Northern California listed and am enjoying the oil of one family-owned company he cited several times during a recent interview on a local radio station. Others may find Australian, Italian, or Spanish olive oil to their liking.

Do read this book!

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

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