How Pure is Your Olive Oil?
I bet if I came over to your house and into your kitchen I’d find at least one bottle of olive oil. I also have no doubt that you absolutely believe that what’s in the bottle is 100% olive oil.
Why wouldn’t you? The label clearly states it’s olive oil, maybe even organic, and we have the Truth in Labeling Act, passed in 1967 to protect us from deceptive practices.
Yet, there’s a REALLY good chance that the olive oil you have right now, has up to 20% partially hydrogenated oils in it.
Why should you care if your olive oil isn't 100% pure?
Partially hydrogenated oils are linked to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
I know that when I choose to use olive oil, it’s because of all the heart-healthy properties it provides. But when you add any amount of partially hydrogenated oils to the heart-healthy olive oil, it not only nullifies the benefits, it actually becomes toxic in our bodies.
These oils are being added to our precious olive oils as a stabilizer that allows the olive oil to sit on shelves for long periods of time. You know those big bottles of olive oil you normally pick up at your local warehouse store? Yeah, those have been shipped and stored for quite some time before they end up on your counter where it may take you another year to use up.
As it stands now, there is no third-party certifying the quality of olive oils. On the rare chance a big company gets called out for deceptive practices, not much happens. It may not even end up on the news cycle.
What to look for when buying olive oil
When I buy my olive oil, I go to one of my local olive oil specialty stores like The Olive Pantry. These stores are popping up everywhere and there’s a good chance you have something like it near where you live.
The reason I go the extra mile (literally, it’s within 2 miles of my house) is because I know that it is 100% certified and the olives are hand-picked and cold-pressed, the way they should be.
The commercial brands don’t have the time or money to hand-pick their olives. Instead, they throw a tarp underneath the trees and let the olives fall off. Once they come off the tree, they start to rot and it may be some time before the tarp is processed, which is why the handpicking is so important.
Once the olives are cold-pressed, in order to retain all of the flavor and nutrients,they are then stored in stainless steel barrels or in tinted glass bottles. If the oil isn’t stored properly, it will leach chemicals from the plastic, or other containers, and I’m out on that.
I remember the first time I went into The Olive Pantry, I had my first tasting and was hooked immediately. They had me taste the traditional, commercial brands, some I even was using, and then taste the real stuff. I was blown away. I had no idea olive oil was supposed to be buttery, smooth and actually tasty. The other stuff was almost rancid comparatively.
Needless to say, that was it for me, just for taste alone.
It's worth the price for health
I had heard some rumblings of fraud going on with olive oils but it was little more than a blip on my radar. Now that I know how damaging partially hydrogenated oils are and here I was buying and using them unbeknownst to me, I now make a point of only using 100% certified olive oils.
It’s no surprise the good stuff is pricier than the average store-bought variety. But, I promise, once you try the real deal, you’ll become a raving fan as well. And spring for the bigger bottles. You’ll be able to save some money and I guarantee you’ll be using it in everything from salad dressings to sauteeing.
When you go to your local speciality store, be prepared to do some tasting.
While you’re at it, check out the aged balsamic vinegars. These vinegars are unlike anything you can get at the supermarket. They are aged in barrels, just like wine, in Italy, and are thick and sweet without added sugar.
Adding some quality olive oil and a truly aged balsamic vinegar to your pantry is a must. These two things will make all the difference in your cooking.