My "Why" and the Dark Side of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is one of the biggest reasons I opened Prairie Oils & Vinegars over six years ago. When I read how much fraud there was in the olive oil industry I was shocked. Now it is in the news again.
In February, the news medias once again had an expose on watching out for fraud olive oil. This is not the first and certainly not the last news article that alerts us to olive oilfraud. It is Global TV's version of the bad oil story. The Olive Oil Times has recently released a recent in-depth story on olive oil fraud as well. Here is a review of a couple of very good points that I thought bear illuminating.
1. Italy's production is down by 50% this year, mostly because of poor fruit ruined by really bad weather. Italians have always been traders. They typically export about 700,000 tons of olive oil annually, only half of which is grown in Italy. The rest comes from everywhere, mostly Spain. So having only half of an Italian crop means there will be lots of olive oil labelled as Italian, but are just bottled there, not created there.
2. Olive Oil has been diluted since the days of the Roman Empire because of demand and profit. The most common practice is to cut it with cheaper oils like sunflower and canola. However, sometimes it is also with nut oils that do not need to be listed on the bottle. Our extra virgin olive oils have a chemistry analysis done to make sure it is pure extra virgin olive oil.
3. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency plays by International Olive Oil Council rules. The IOOC is administered and funded by commercial producers who sell the bulk of the world's oil. It is in their interests to have relaxed quality standards. Soft IOOC standards mean the more of that bulk will pass. An olive oil has to be genuinely repulsive to fail them.

4. Very little Extra Virgin Olive Oil is "cold pressed". It is produced using centrifuge and decanter technology. But that aside, the underlying truth remains the same: if you crush rotting olives, even for the first time, you get rotten olive oil. Period.

So, this is my "why". This is way more important than good taste (which is also important). But it is about being able to know what you are getting - period - as a consumer and being able to know that it is good quality so we can put it in our bodies.

I do not base my business marketing on fear. I don't want anyone to have anxiety around their food. Mine is just another piece of the puzzle about our Canadian diet. Spreading awareness of high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil is what gives me a reason to know I am conducting a worthwhile business here in Manitoba. So everyone can have the good stuff!

- Bev Penner, Owner
Prairie Oils & Vinegars


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