Sunday, June 24, 2007

Olive oil that is too cheap

When olive oil is too cheap I usually suspect that there are one of two things going on. First, I imagine the consumer is getting a raw deal. Usually cheap oil means that quality is compromised and what you think you are buying is not really what is in the bottle. Second, perhaps the producers are being forced to sell at a rate that is lower than their production cost. This sometimes happens when big olive oil companies get involved and monopolise international markets. I personally see this as the death of small-scale olive oil production in the Mediterranean.

If you are buying very inexpensive olive oil, you should expect to get what you pay for, which is usually not much. I am aware that different types of cooking require different types of oil; however, there is really no way I would ever consume 'lampante' or 'olive oil' grade. In fact, many consider these grades of olive oil unfit for human consumption. When the Romans said "caveat emptor" I think they were talking about buying olive oil. What can you do to ensure you are buying quality oil? First of all, read the label carefully and look for signs of fraud. Check that your oil is extra virgin (if that is what you are after), that it has a specific and identifiable origin and there should be a 'best by' date. Although these indications are a start they do not always ensure a high-quality product. I would even suggest checking on the Internet to find out more about the producer and distributor.

That said, I do not think that good quality extra virgin olive oil should be available exclusively to the privileged. There is lots of over-priced olive oil out there on specialty food store shelves. I will have more to say on that topic in the future...

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Blogger Ido said...

Usually, cheap "olive oil" is very expensive soya oil (in the best case scenario)... :-)

5:25 AM  
Blogger Olive Oil said...

Ahhhh! I don't want to even think about what other 'substitutes' are used.

10:10 AM  

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