Next week I’ll be boarding one of those flying sardine cans and making my way toward Italy. One of the things I look forward to is drizzling some of my neighbor Enrico’s olive oil over…well, just about anything, but maybe some of the lettuce from Enrico’s garden.
Enroco’s oil is “extra virgin” olive oil. I saw them harvesting it. I even did a little harvesting myself (video).
It’s unbelievable how good a real extra virgin oil tastes. What surprises you though is how much of it seems to be on the market. The supermarkets are full of big bottles of industrial crap olive oil.
Now, they don’t taste much of olives. How can that be?
After all, to be “extra virgin” an oil must have very low acid and be cold-pressed. Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. The IOOC, International Olive Oil Council, says that extra virgin oil must contain no more than 0.8% acidity.
How good are the industrial oils? Well, hard to tell, but Michele Vitale alerts us to the sorry state of the extra virgins in Italy. When 31 oils were tested:
1 out of 31 turned out to have the features required for the “extra virgin” label. The rest of them were not compliant; nevertheless these oil were bottled by their ruthless producers with a label they did not deserve and that was, basically, false. ~ The lies under the labels of olive oil / 2
Yeah, that’s why they taste so crappy. It’s not just Italy, of course, Greek oils imported to the US didn’t fare much better
But, you know, it’s big corporations, and they are our friends. They only do this to us because it’s for our own good, don’t they? I mean, why should we be eating extra virgin oils anyway?
I’ll tell you:
Javier Menendez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada in Spain led a team of researchers who set out to investigate which parts of olive oil were most active against cancer. Menendez said, “Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells”. ~ Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Has Anti-Cancer Components
But this only works for cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, because heat damages these beneficial components.
So, buy good oil. It’ll be expensive. Don’t try to save a few bucks on commercial, industrial oil. It sucks.