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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Subpar Olive Oil is Our Destiny

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 4:17 PM

click to enlarge AOOPA.ORG
If the coffee, lime, hops, banana, avocado, and whiskey shortages haven’t ruined all your fun, here comes another one: We’re about to enter a future tainted by crappy olive oil. “The Black Year of Italian Olive Oil” has reduced harvests in Tuscany and Umbria by one-third, leading Tom Mueller, author of Extra-Virginity, to tell the L.A. Times that cheating will be rampant.

Look for Italian labels that say “produced and bottled by X,” otherwise they might be blends of meh olive oils (or even other vegetable oils altogether). And “anything under $12 per liter should be avoided, as it virtually can’t be Italian from this year’s harvest.”

As with everything of this sort, blame is diffuse: bad weather, a parasite borne on fruit flies, and overconsumption. The huge worldwide demand for olive oil led farmers to cultivate industrial-scale plantations that require irrigation and are more susceptible to disease than traditional groves.

The European Union produces about three-quarters of the world’s olives, with Spain alone generating over half of the EU’s total, but Italian groves account for a greater share of extra virgin olive oil, and they’re all at risk of decreased yields owing to a hotter, drier climate. As are California’s, for that matter.

Like artwork that mysteriously appeared in Switzerland during the 1940s, it’s important to regard your olive oil’s provenance with skepticism. (The queen of E.V.O.O. herself, Rachael Ray, was busted in 2010 for hawking an unholy mixture of inferior oils, as were leading brands such as Bertolli, Filippo Berio, Newman’s Own, and Whole Foods.)

Lifehacker even suggested last year that purity-minded consumers skip Italian olive oils entirely, in favor of Californian and Australian brands. Here’s where knowing your purveyor really counts. Expensive though it may be, McEvoy Ranch is sounding better than ever, lest subpar olive oil be our destiny.

[Via the LA Times]

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Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

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