Olive oil. We all know it’s healthy for us right?
But, is your Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO) really extra virgin!?
I have heard for years that olive oil runs the risk of being adulterated. The demand is high and supplies are limited. It sets the stage for integrity and quality issues. Although I knew this was a possibility, I’ve never quite known what to do about it besides going to Italy or Spain myself. Well, mid-February, Dr. Oz did an expose’. He discussed a few ways to tell if your olive oil was legit…….and gave us all a resource. The California Olive Oil Council (COOC), certifies California olive oil, and if it passes their tests, they can use a label on their bottling and the olive oil company can also now put the link to their website on the COOC site. NOW, we know what we’re buying!
I’d have to disagree with Oz in that buying olive oil in a dark glass bottle protects you from buying adulterated olive oil. Anyone can put oil in a dark glass bottle. See below for one example. But I do believe a good olive oil should gel up in the fridge. I don’t think that it is perfect science but it’s a start.
After watching the episode, I put my Napa Valley Naturals olive oil, that I purchased here in Billings, in the fridge that night. It did NOT gel up. Like I said, I don’t know that that is the perfect test, but its not a good sign.
My next step was to look at the Napa Valley Naturals website. I didn’t see any certification…but they had a money back guarantee. Since I didn’t have my receipt, I called and left a message. When Hannah called me back, she said they’d had lots of calls and updated their website. Their website had been updated to say that their oil was certified by the COOC. In talking with her though, she said that really they were a distributor and just bought olive oil, put their own label on it and resold it. She assured me that their supplier was COOC certified, but she could not supply me with any verification. Honestly, it sounded fishy. Even when I said I was a health care professional and I needed more proof than her word, she said she understood but could not provide me with anything as proof that their olive oil was really olive oil. She dismissed the refrigerator test as well.
My next step was to contact the California Olive Oil Council to verify any of this information. I was told that Napa Valley Naturals was not certified, and that they couldn’t use the label if they hadn’t been through the certification process themselves. Once Napa, or any company for that matter, buys the olive oil, they could do anything to it. They could mix with Non extra virgin olive oil, or even other types of oils per the Oz expose’. The gal from COOC told me they’d follow up with Napa and I checked the Napa website today and see that they’ve removed the COOC certification wording. Obviously they were using certification that wasn’t theirs to use.
My short answer to all of this is two fold.
- I personally will no longer recommend Napa Valley Naturals olive oil to any of my patients as I think they were less than honest about the COOC certification. They have no proof and were dis-ingenuous about the certification verbally and on their website until COOC called them on it. I did return my Napa Valley Naturals olive oil.
- I re-bought olive oil via one of the links to a certified supplier on the COOC website. I choose the Apollo olive oil. It’s organic and according to them, they have some fancy equipment that lets them extract more polyphenols than others. In any event, I at least trust its real extra virgin olive oil.
How’s it taste you ask? COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! Grassy and bitter are words that come to mind. I have a colleague going to school in Italy. I wrote and asked her what real olive oil tastes like. Grassy, bitter, etc. She said I’m definitely on the right track and that all of the olive oil she’s had there is nothing like the olive oil we’ve had here in the States.
So, it’s an acquired taste and even came with paperwork describing the tones of a good olive oil and how it’s like fine wine.
So, at the Konoske house, we’re acquiring new tastes, trusting this is good for us, and I’m hoarding it because it is much more expensive than anything I’ve purchased locally.
Moral of the story. I don’t know how you’ll know if your olive oil is really olive oil unless you buy from someone certified via the Ca Olive Oil Council. It’s why they exist. You’ll find that many of the small olive oil companies only produce a few hundred or thousand bottles a year. They are little companies and as I mentioned, supply is limited. Demand is high so it’s not cheap. Many of the sites I looked at were already sold out for the year. But you need to understand they only certify California olive oil. If for some reason the olive oil was from Arizona, it can’t/won’t be Ca Olive Oil Certified. And it tastes different but I can see getting used to it.