Is your Italian olive oil really Italian?
The world seems to love Italian olive oil, and many bottles of oil seem to be packaged to display their Italian origin. But here comes the crunch, when you buy a bottle of oil that says Italian on the label, if you check the small print on the label you may see that what you are really getting is Italian oil blended with olive oil from other countries, especially with premium quality extra virgin olive oil from Greece.
Italy uses and exports more olive oil than its farmers can grow. Natural olive oil from Greece tastes just as good, if not better, than olive oil from other countries, but it is cheaper to produce. Italian brands buy Greek oil, mix it with their own and sell it to you, quite legally and stated on the label, as Italian product. Greek olive growers grow and press more olives than home consumption can use and so they can sell their excess olives to Italy.
Importing and mixing Greek extra virgin olive oil with Italian oil has become common commonplace to meet demand for healthy and nutritious extra virgin oil. Do read what it says on the label, you may well see that they are really a blend of oils from Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean countries. Best quality, great tasting Greek olive oil, grown with care and love in the beautiful Greek countryside, hand-picked and cold pressed is being re-packaged as premium Italian olive oil.
Homer, the most revered of the ancient Greek poets, described olive oil from Greece as being ‘liquid gold’ and Greek olive growers, specialising in getting the best fruit from their rows of dark leaved olive trees take advantage of the glorious climate that Mother Nature bestows upon Greece.
So if I look closely at the label, my bottle of Italian extra virgin olive oil is probably a mix of oils. If Greek olive oil tastes as good as Italian olive oil, and it does, and if Greek olive oil is just as healthy and useful as Italian olive oil, and it is, why shouldn’t you just buy Greek olive oil in the first place ?
photo by Smabs Sputzer