While in Greece I had the chance to vist the oldest known olive oil tree in the world. It was such an amazing experience! It was so big that I could not put my arms around its trunk. Most olive trees can live over 500 years but this one is over an astounding 3000 years old! Did you know that Greeks eat 25 kg of olive oil per year compared to 5 kg in North America and that 1/4 of Crete is covered with olive trees? I had such a magical time tasting the amazing food first hand that was drowning in liquid gold!
Olive oil is a fantastic anti-inflammatory tool. Its known benefits include:
• Reduce the likelihood of certain cancers including breast cancer
• Lower "bad" blood cholesterol (LDL)
• Offer protection from ulcers and gastrointestinal discomfort
• Reduce the risk of gallstones
This made me think about the most daunting investigative report on the olive oil industry as first reported in the August 2007 edition of NEW YORKER Magazine titled “Slippery Business” by Tom Mueller. Mueller went on to write the book Extra Virginity which was released in 2011. It is an exhaustive study of the underbelly of the olive oil business.
More about Extra Virginity from the Amazon.ca website:
"For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life's necessities-not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious ritual. Today's researchers are continuing to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra-virgin, and "extra-virgin Italian" has become the highest standard of quality. But what if this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt? Starting with an explosive article in The New Yorker, Tom Mueller has become the world's expert on olive oil and olive oil fraud-a story of globalization, deception, and crime in the food industry from ancient times to the present, and a powerful indictment of today's lax protections against fake and even toxic food products in the United States. A rich and deliciously readable narrative, Extra Virginity is also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name "extra-virgin.""
Many so called 'olive oils' on the market are in fact a bit of olive oil with a variety of rancid vegetable oils mixed in. This type of oil is highly processed, toxic and should not be consumed.
What you can do?
1) Buy organic oil if you can afford it as these companies must have paperwork to track the oil from field to table.
2) If you cannot afford organic then get to know someone who is in touch with an integral farmer in Europe. I paid a visit to Acropolis Olive Oil farm in Crete, Greece. For generations, the Acropolis Organics family has carried on the legacy of their ancestors, producing some of the purest, most delicious olive oil (both organic and bio-dynamic) "vintages" in the world. Each bottle is packaged with the utmost care with a pressing date. Panagiotis Tsiriotakis brought the generations-old family tradition of olive oil making to the Canadian market in 2003 and their product is available in many fine food stores.
3) Get to know what Olive oil really tastes like. Light olive oil is not olive oil. Real extra virgin has a taste of pepperiness, and fruitiness. If you can’t taste the olives you most likely have deodorized cheap oil that could be soy or canola with some green colour added.
4) Buy oil packed in dark glass. The real stuff degrades in heat and light so avoid the clear plastic bottles that could be leaching plastic into your next meal!
I encourage you to add olive oil and other good oils to your diet as the health of our bodies depend on high quality natural good fats.
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