Most consumers are aware that olive oil is a healthier alternative to stand-bys like vegetable oil. However, the touted benefits are often used by companies that produce it to capitalize on unsuspecting shoppers. The olive oil business is now a $720 million industry, but you need to know that what you have in your cabinet may be far from the real thing. The reality is that you get what you pay for in this case. True extra virgin olive oil is very healthy; it is also very costly to produce. Manufacturers lure unwary customers in with labeling tactics that make them think they are getting the real thing when it is really a much lower grade, chemically processed version. These versions are like a watered-down version of true extra virgin olive oil that provide much less of the health benefits that this incredible natural substance is known for.
First of all, you have to pay attention to the terminology. The only real contender here is “Extra Virgin Olive Oil,” or “EVOO” as made famous by celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Any other representation means that it is not the real thing. However, manufacturers employ a wide variety of deceptive practices to try to make you think that they are. This entices you to buy the cheaper product, thinking you are getting the real thing, when in reality you are getting something totally different that actually has a higher profit margin for companies than extra virgin olive oil itself. These lesser versions are beefed up with chemicals. They even add flavoring to make it taste like the real thing, even though it isn’t. And while the product may suffice taste and function-wise, when you get down to the heart of the matter, pardon the pun, the heart benefits associated with true extra virgin olive oil are just simply not there. Manufacturers throw in fancy claims like “Made in Italy” or “Cold-pressed” to make the customer think that the product is more than it is. These terms are virtually meaningless if you don’t see the EVOO clearly on the label. However, even olive oil bottles
that proclaim it as being extra virgin can be false.
Generic brands are the biggest enemy. There are many products where a generic brand is just as good as the original, but this is not one of them. Generic brands do not monitor the manufacturing process very closely, and while the Food and Drug Administration does require a marginal level of testing before a product can receive the “Extra Virgin” branding, they don’t catch everything. Read the labels and make sure you are spending your hard-earned money for the real thing. Your health may very well depend on it.