Which olive oils can you trust?
We live in a time when fake food is rampant, and we cannot trust large-scale anything. Olive oil is no exception. If you’ve ever tasted pure, fresh olive oil, you know there’s something not quite right about mass-produced supermarket brands. It's not just a matter of poor quality; accepted industry practices are harmful to our health.
What's really going on? There are two issues at play:
- Olive oil is best the moment it’s harvested, and due to slow shipping from overseas, most bottles are long past their primes by the time they reach the shelves near you.
- There continues to be widespread, undisclosed blending of olive oil with harmful industrial products such as soybean, canola, or other commercial seed oils to keep costs down. This practice also has been revealed recently in samples of avocado oil in a 2020 UC Davis study.
As with so many Big Food products, there are huge incentives to cut corners while keeping prices high. The only way to be sure you’re getting the right food is to know the grower and the farming methods, then buy as closely to the source as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions until you feel certain you’re making a wise choice.
Here are three examples of high-quality olive oils from farms we have known for some time and trusted with our own health:
In the hills of Yolo County, California, Susan and Ken grow 12 acres of olive trees near their organic farm in the beautiful Capay Valley. They harvest by hand in November and offer fresh-bottled oils at local farmers markets and through their online store. As with all of their farm products, the trees are grown sustainably and without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. If you want to know what true regenerative farming with rotational grazing looks like, visit pasture42.com.
Ioulia Greek Olive Oil Co.
With 3,000 olive trees in the Kalamata region of Greece and a retail operation now based in Park City, Utah, Ioulia’s descendants are carrying on a family tradition and making hand-crafted olive oils available to a new community. This is our current go-to option because it’s easy to buy near us. Utah residents can find Ioulia at the Park City Farmers Market, Copper Moose Farm Stand, and it’s also available online at iouliaoliveoil.com.
Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club
Chef and food writer T.J. Robinson started the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club after falling in love with the taste of harvest-fresh olive oil in Sicily. He discovered part of the problem with the industry is slow shipping and a “maze-like distribution chain” that causes most oils to be stale at best, rancid at worst. He addressed this problem by arranging for express delivery by air. Members of his club receive three bottles of olive oil four times a year, sourced from places like Spain, Chile, Australia, and Italy – wherever the harvest is happening the month of the shipment. As subscribers for several years, we were delighted with the variety and taste, and we found that these rare bottles make excellent gifts, as well! Learn more at freshpressedoliveoil.com.