Did you know that olive oil is one of the most fraudulent oils on the market?
For many people, olive oil is a tried and true kitchen staple, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s delicious, it’s functional, and it has tons of nutritional value and health benefits. That’s right! This tasty liquid gold is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which can lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure while stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation throughout the body. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, there’s a catch. Turns out you might not be reaping all the benefits of olive oil that you thought you were.
In the US, most olive oil companies are diluting their oil with cheaper alternatives like vegetable oils (which are very inflammatory), all at the expense of our health! These “filler” oils are made up of toxic molds, chemicals, pesticides and some even contain GMOs. Don’t get me wrong, olive oil has definitely earned its superfood status, but after doing a little digging I found some sad truths: we are being scammed by an industry that is choosing profit over health, and very few of the olive oil sources we use actually contain the superfood benefits olive oil is so celebrated for.
I find that so many of my clients have told me they found a killer deal, but make sure if it is too good to be true, then stay clear. For example, if there is a bottle of "extra virgin olive oil from Italy" at a supermarket for $10/liter, you can almost guarantee that has been tampered with. Extra Virgin olive oil is not a cheap commodity like vegetable oil.
Forbes states, “It's reliably reported that 80% of the Italian olive oil on the market is fraudulent.” Of course, you can navigate around the fraudsters by diligent label reading, as is important when buying any food or beverage product, but what if the nutrition labels are lying, too? “The United States imports more olive oil than any other country, and yet regulations on the labeling of said oil are voluntary.” Yet another sad truth I found in my discovery.
In 2008, over 80 farms were found to be adding vegetable oils, food coloring, flavored and perfumed oils to their product with the intent to sell it at market as “extra virgin olive oil.” What bums me out the most is that this type of fraud and corruption deprives people of some of the health benefits that may have prompted them to buy the oil in the first place.
Tree to Bottle: Learn What Olive Oil I Choose and Why
Check out 23°C Olive Oil. I did the homework for you and this stuff is the REAL DEAL. I even met the farmer and will be going out to the farm this Spring to see where the olives are grown. Plus, they ran nutritional analysis and the results are incredible. If you’re a nutrition nerd like me and want to check ‘em out, you can read them HERE. The analysis basically says that since the oil is never heated past 23 degrees, it is high in antioxidant levels and has preserved all the valuable vitamins (because high heat destroys all the good stuff!).
Their mission at 23°C Olive Oil is to connect the independent family farmer from Italy with the American family table. They bypass the traditional oil distribution system, which mainly just inflates prices and sacrifices quality, by partnering with the small independent farm. They offer direct access to the highest quality, unrefined, antioxidant-packed olive oil by handling it every step of the way.
From 23°C Olive Oil
“Producers have a fundamental choice to make about extraction temperature. Generally lower temperatures yield higher quality oil while higher temperatures produce more oil but sacrifice its quality. In order to obtain the optimal Coratina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with a balanced fruity, bitter, and spicy sensory profile, we believe that Coratina olives should be milled at a temperature of 23°C. This belief defines their brand and sticks true to my mission of providing our bodies with the most nutrient dense foods we can find to fuel us.”
USE MY CODE VIDA23 for a discounted bottle
Scary Facts About Your Olive Oil:
“International standards for extra virgin olive oil are mostly unenforced. Although the term ‘extra virgin’ is generally understood to denote the highest quality of olive oil, industry representatives report that the current standards are easily met by producers and allow olive oil marketed as ‘extra virgin’ to represent a wide range of qualities. This lack of enforcement has resulted in a long history of fraudulent practices (adulteration and mislabelling) in the olive oil sector.” – United States International Trade Commission
Natural health website Mercola states: “In 2016, 60 Minutes revealed how the olive oil business has been corrupted by what the Italians refer to as the ‘agromafia.’ According to journalist Tom Muller, featured in the 60 Minutes report, the mafia has infiltrated virtually all areas of the olive oil business, including harvesting, pricing, transportation and the supermarkets. In essence, they've infiltrated the entire food chain ‘from farm to fork,’ to use Muller's phrase. The fraud is so massive, at least half of all the extra virgin olive oil sold in Italy is adulterated as well. That's pretty astonishing, considering the reverence Italians have for olive oil.”
Torie’s Tips for Safe Olive Oil Consumption:
1. Learn how to read a label.
Labeling enforcement is sparse, so don’t blindly trust words like ‘natural’, ‘extra virgin’ etc., that you would normally trust on the label. On the label, look for a harvest date. Remember you want it extracted and processed in the same day (24 hours is ideal).
2. Know who you’re buying from.
If possible, stay away from conventional grocery stores. Buy from a producer, or a certified distributor (small batched), and look for the International Olive Oil Council certification. I like to stick with small farms and try my best to know the farmer.
3. Understand smoke point and how to use different oils.
Olive oil has a very low smoke point, meaning if it reaches a high heat that it might smoke, it turns rancid when it is heated past a certain temperature, creating free radicals and causing inflammation in the body. Make sure when cooking with olive oil that you are conscious of the temperature. Forever, I thought I wasn’t supposed to cook with olive oil at high heat, but this actually isn’t the case--when you’re using high quality, fresh olive oil, that is. Such will stand upwards of 425 degrees, well above the ideal temperature for frying food around 350 degrees. Low quality olive oil will burn because it has less acid, has probably been cut with vegetable oils, and may have particular matter from not being separated properly.
4. Understand the effects of oxidation.
When purchasing olive oil, make sure to only buy dark bottles. Why? Because when olive oil is exposed to light it becomes oxidized,(oxidation is bad think aging or an apple turning brown) meaning that it isn’t virgin quality as the label might claim.
5. Store your olive oil properly.
Like I mentioned, light is not great for your oil. Move the bottle away from light and heat, and store it like you would wine. That means away from the stove. After you’ve opened it, try to use it within one month. This is one reason why big bulk bottles at Costco are not a good idea.
To me, meeting the 23°C Olive Oil family was a match made in heaven and I’m so happy to find a truthful company that I can confidently recommend to my clients, friends and family. I promise you’ve never tasted any oil as close to this good. When it comes to something like oil oil that is used almost daily in the kitchen, it’s important to invest in a quality product that will benefit your body, not harm it.
TVW’s Olive Oil Hall of Fame and Shame
Brands That Failed the Test:
Brands That Passed the Test:
23°C Olive Oil
Braggs Cold pressed Olive Oil
Bariani Olive Oil
McEvoy Ranch Organic
California Olive Ranch
What is really in your bottle of Olive Oil?
Heat Myth: Forever I thought I wasn’t supposed to cook with olive oil at high heat. All those people that told you the same thing – they were WRONG, well kind of. This only is true with truly virgin, high quality, fresh olive oil that is. Low quality will burn because it has less acid, has probably been cut with vegetable oils, and may have particular matter from not being separated properly.
Storage: Move that bottle away from light and heat, and store it like you would wine. That means away from the stove. After you’ve opened it, try to use it within one month. This is one reason why big bulk bottles at Costco are not a good idea.
Recipes For Your Clean, Quality Olive Oil
Now that you’ve found your perfect bottle of high quality olive oil, it’s time to get in the kitchen and start cooking. Here’s an easy anti-inflammatory recipe for you to try.
1 teaspoon of organic ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (can use any type)
1/4 cup cold pressed olive oil (use CODE TVW23 on the company’s website for 20% off)
Optional: you can add local raw honey if you need that balance, I personally like it this way.
Put all ingredients, as listed into a glass jar or shaker bottle with a tight fitting lid. Shake well!!
NOTE: If you prefer a thicker dressing put all the ingredients in a blender with 1/2 an avocado – blend well.