Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why I avoid imported olive oil and buy California extra-virgin olive oil bottled by the producers

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I learned from reading Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, by Tom Mueller, that imported extra-virgin olive oils are frequently not extra-virgin nor, indeed, even olive oil. It’s an entertaining if somewhat depressing book, which made me change my olive-oil-buying habits: now I buy only EVOO produced in California and bottled by the producer.

And the situation will soon get worse. Elisabetta Povoledo reports in the NY Times:

For some of the 300 olive growers who toil here in the rolling hills of the Lazio region, making olive oil is a year-round labor of love.

The olives are hand-harvested early in the fall, when they are still green, and are whisked to a cooperative-run mill so they can be cold-pressed within 12 hours.

Nothing is added in the process, following precise standards that produce the extra-virgin olive oil that Italy vaunts as one of its most prized products, and most successful global exports.

“We want people to buy the oil because it is a Colli Etruschi oil,” which is famed for its quality, said Nicola Fazzi, the director of the Colli Etruschi cooperative, founded in 1965.

That is why Mr. Fazzi, like producers elsewhere in Italy, is troubled by a draft legislative decree under review in Parliament — with a decision expected on Tuesday — that would tinker with the penalties for passing off counterfeit olive oil and its origin.

If the decree passes, critics say, commercial fraud and counterfeiting would no longer be considered a criminal offense. Instead, it would be punished by a relatively light fine, effectively incentivizing the wrongdoing, the producers say.

“Much is said about promoting ‘made in Italy,’ but then they try to decriminalize adulterated oil,” Mr. Fazzi lamented, joining a chorus of critics, including trade associations and farm lobbies, who fear for the reputation of Italian extra-virgin olive oil if the decree passes. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article she does quote Tom Mueller:

. . . If the decree passes, “the whole notion of ‘made in Italy’ is at risk,” said Tom Mueller, an American journalist based in Liguria who has written extensively about olive oil fraud.

In particular, the decree benefits industrial olive oil bottlers, as the light fines legitimize the notion of “product of Italy” over “made in Italy,” he said, “opening the floodgates so that the generic product of Italy becomes the new normal.”

“If it works for olive oil, it will work for other products, too,” he predicted. “Indication of any geographic provenance is bad for big business,” Mr. Mueller explained.

The decree “is ultimately a shield for dishonesty, and that could become the way of the future,” he said. “It’s free trade über alles, not protecting the quality of foods made from the soil.” . . .

She lists several large-scale counterfeiting operations, passing off second-tier olive oil as extra-virgin.

Written by Leisureguy

27 February 2016 at 8:26 pm

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