Olive oil…It’s good for what ails you!
With its many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to protect your body from heart disease, cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease, olive oil is always in the health news and probably should be on everyone’s shopping list. So that got me wondering, what kind should I buy?
After seeing bottles and bottles and even more bottles of the oil on the grocery store shelf, I didn’t know which one was best. So many brands, so many prices, so many types…Talk about feeling overwhelmed. I just wanted to grab a bottle, toss it into my cart, and never look back.
Deep down I kept thinking it probably DID matter which bottle I chose. But which one? Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) vs olive oil vs light olive oil …the list goes on.
And what about price? Should I use price as the judge? The higher the price, the higher the quality, right? How about a middle of the road price point that still tastes good? Kind of like how I buy wine, no?
Since my checking account balance wasn’t going to allow me to become an olive oil snob or purchase a bottle of each to taste test, my hunt for a budget friendly brand began. So I got lost on the internet, reading anything I could find on choosing the best. I finally hit the jackpot of information about this golden oil in the book Extra Virginity–the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
I found out that, yes, it DOES matter what type you buy. And, yes, price matters. BUT I found that you can definitely use a less a expensive brand to cook with and splurge on the good stuff you eat straight out of the bottle or in moderation (salad dressings and for dipping fresh baguette slices in).
But to complicate things even further, I learned that olive oil FRAUD has become a problem. Now there’s something that never occurred to me–mixing less quality or older olive oil with better and fresher oil yet still slapping a high price tag on the bottle. The unsophisticated EVOO consumer (moi) probably couldn’t tell the difference. Truth.
Anyway, after much reading and note taking, I narrowed the information down to just a few few helpful hints to hopefully clear up some confusion and make EVOO selection a whole lot easier. (Some SUGGESTED BRANDS appear at the end)
1. Extra virgin olive oil ONLY. Skip “pure” and “light” versions. They’ve been pressed over and over again, may have other types of vegetable oil mixed in, and are missing the health benefits of EVOO.
2. Price matters ~$8-10 and above.
3. Look for a Best Buy (BB) date, at least 2 years out
4. Smaller, dark-colored bottle to maintain freshness; glass is best IMO
5. “Packed in Italy” is NOT found on the label. Packed there doesn’t mean it was produced there.
6. Some kind of legitimate certification on the label (i.e., California Olive Oil Council) helps. Organic often indicates some level of authenticity
SUGGESTED BRANDS–a few readily available budget-friendly brands I found at my area grocery stores:
California Olive Ranch Everyday. (A good price, and best of all, most local grocery stores carry it)
Kroger “Private Selection” Extra Virgin Olive Oil (California, Spain, Greece—your choice)
O-Live (most local grocery stores carry this)
Lucina (most local grocery stores carry this but a little bit pricey and what about that clear bottle??)
Omaggia (sometimes available Sam’s Club)
And for those who have easy access to the following stores
Costco Kirkland TOSCANO
Trader Joes–100% Greek Kalamata, California Estate Olive Oil, Premium Extra Virgin
Whole Foods CALIFORNIA 365
MISSING FROM THE LIST: Pompeian, Colavita, Carapelli, Bertolli, Flippio, Goya.
Personally, I’m sticking with the Made-in-America California brands. I can support my health and my country’s farmers at the same time!
For more olive oil info, check out www.truthinoliveoil.com, created by Tom Mueller, author of the book, Extra Virginity–the Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.