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How to Tell if Your Olive Oil Is Fake

how to tell if your olive oil is fake

Ever since journalist Tom Mueller broke the story about how more than 70% of the extra-virgin olive oil sold in the world is fake (cut with cheaper oils), olive oil lovers the world over have been scrambling to find authentic, 100% real olive oil.

But how can you tell if your olive oil is fake or not? Does the fridge test really work? What about the oil lamp test?

These tests are often touted as the be-all-end-all for determining if your olive oil is fake, but unfortunately they’re flawed tests that can easily mislead you. There’s only one sure-fire way to know if your olive oil is real, and if you’re a regular reader of my site, you likely already know what that is…

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake: The Taste Test

Some of us are deluded into thinking we can taste the difference between real olive oil and fake olive oil.

We can not.

We’ve been told that tasting real olive oil is a bit like tasting wine. First, the aroma. It should start with a mildly grassy aroma. Next, the bite. It should finish with a spicy, tingly sort of bite on the back of your tongue.

But when given a variety of real and fake olive oils to test, even the self-proclaimed taste-testing experts were miserable failures:

I conducted a blind tasting of extra virgin olive oils a few years ago for a national newspaper that wanted “the truth on expensive olive oil”.

We had a dozen oils, and a panel consisting of an importer, an Italian deli owner and a couple of eminent foodies: the results were so embarrassing and confusing the piece was never published. The importer went into a fugue after he was informed that he’d pronounced his own premium product “disgusting”; the deli owner chose a bottle of highly dubious “Italian extra virgin” as his favourite (it had cost £1.99 at the discount store TK Maxx); and both the foodies gave a thumbs-up to Unilever’s much-derided Bertolli brand.

The Taste Test Verdict: UNRELIABLE

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake: The Fridge Test

The premise behind this test is that exta-virgin olive oil is comprised of mostly monounsaturated fats which solidify when cold.

So, if you put real extra-virgin olive oil in the fridge, it ought to become thick and cloudy. Some high-wax varieties of olive oil will even solidify completely.

But this is not a fail proof way to tell if your olive oil is fake.

EXAMPLE 1: The extra-virgin olive oil is a high-wax variety (which would normally solidify when cold), but it’s cut with low-grade oils from other plants. So, when you put it in the fridge, it thickens up, but doesn’t solidify. This fake oil would pass the fridge test because the so-called olive oil STILL thickened up and became cloudy.

EXAMPLE 2: The extra-virgin olive oil is 100% real, but “winterized” (chilled and filtered). Many olive oil producers choose to winterize their oils so that it doesn’t become inconveniently solid on cellar shelves during the winter. By chilling the oil and filtering out the wax that solidifies or clumps up, they can ensure that their oil is always pourable. This 100% real oil would fail the fridge test, and would only become slightly thick (but not solid) when frozen.

The Fridge Test Verdict: UNRELIABLE

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil Is Fake: The Oil Lamp Test

Extra-virgin olive oil ought to be flammable enough to keep an oil lamp burning. It will also burn without producing any noticeable smoke. So, if your olive oil will not keep a wick lit (or if it can, but produces a lot of smoke), you can trust that it is fake olive oil.

However, other oils can keep a wick lit, too. So if your olive oil is adulterated with an oil that also burns, it will pass the test even though it’s fake.

The Oil Lamp Test Verdict: UNRELIABLE

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake: Know Your Farmer

I am fortunate to live in central Texas — a place where olive trees do relatively well. As such, I’ve got quite a few local olive growers to choose from. These are people I know. They are not mobsters or buyers for multi-national corporations. They are real people with real families who are passionate about what they do.

Artisan and locally-produced olive oils (the variety you can find from small family farms) have always passed every single scientific test of authenticity. So, buy locally.

Buy from a farmer you can get to know and trust, and you’ll be set.

But what if you can’t buy olive oil locally?

We live in the real world, and not everyone can buy local olive oil. So who can you trust? How do you determine if an olive oil you find online or in stores is real or fake?

UC Davis has done a series of studies on this, and I recommend reading their concluding report. In short, they found that domestic olive oil from single producers or co-ops was always real. In the foreign oil market, it helped to buy from growers who bottle their oil directly for retail sale.

Based on these findings, I recommend buying from a single family farm or small co-op of growers.

That’s because almost all olive oil adulteration happens with the middle men — the people who buy olive oil in bulk from individual farmers and collect it in bulk to sell to corporate buyers. The corporate buyers are usually buying olive oil they think is 100% real, and they’re then mixing, sorting, and branding it to sell it in grocery stores.

So, if you cut out the corporation, cut out the middle man who buys from hundreds of scattered farms and is likely adulterating the oil, and go directly to the source — the small family farm or small co-op of growers, then you’re going to get the real deal.

What if you already have a favorite non-local olive oil and you want to have it tested?

If you want an absolutely definitive test done on your store-bought olive oil, you can send in a sample to UC Davis’ Olive Oil Center. They will perform the same testing on your sample that they performed in their original, ground-breaking study.

Where to Buy 100% Real Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Online

One of my favorite sponsors, Jovial Foods, has set out to find and preserve ancient varieties of traditional foods that are under threat of extinction. Among the foods they’re now bringing to market is an olive oil blend made from three rare varieties of olives brought to the Veneto region of Italy more than a thousand years ago by the Romans — Favarol, Grignano and Nostrano olives.

how to tell if your olive oil is fake

Every year during harvest season, Jovial’s founders, Carla and Rodolfo (and their children), visit these fields of olive trees (pictured above), harvest their own crates full of olives, and take them to the press to be turned into beautiful oil on the spot.

It’s like a pick-your-own berry patch here in the states, except it’s for olives … and in Italy … and certified organic.

They knew that many of us here would never be able to experience the amazing depth of flavor of freshly-pressed olive oil from these rare varieties of olives, so they recently teamed up with the Veneto farmers to bring you this 100% authentic olive oil.

how to tell if your olive oil is fake

So, if you’re in need of a 100% real olive oil …and you want some of the best-tasting olive oil you will ever have the pleasure of enjoying …and you want to know you’re doing your part to preserve ancient varieties of olives and small family farmers, why not give their olive oil a try?

(Click here to buy Jovial’s Reserve Blend of 100% real olive oil today.)

This post has been sponsored by Jovial Foods. Thank you for supporting the companies and products I believe in!

(photo credit: Jovial Foods)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only ever endorse products that are in alignment with Food Renegade's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. You may read my full disclosure statements here.

133 Responses to How to Tell if Your Olive Oil Is Fake
  1. Linnea
    December 14, 2013 | 8:45 am

    So this is basically an advertisement for Jovial oil? Surely they and local farmers are not the only companies who sell real olive oil.

    • Kristen
      December 14, 2013 | 9:59 am

      Of course not. In the article, I specifically state that if you don’t know or have a local farmer, then “I recommend buying from a single family farm or small co-op of growers.”

      There are many olive oils that fit this bill. The salient point is that you cut out the corporate middle men who bulk buy olive oil and instead favor buying oil that’s been packaged for sale directly from the growers.

      • Kenric Ashe
        December 17, 2013 | 10:23 pm

        As Lora says below: “I learned in reading the article is that, short of sending a sample to a laboratory, there is no way to tell if it is fake unless you pick the olives and make it yourself or watch someone do the entire process.” Your article does not indicate how you know for a fact that Jovial does not mix oils. So … how do you know that? I understand the need for sponsors and I’m not holding that against you, but the potential conflict of interest from sharing in the profits raises this necessary question.

        • Kristen
          December 17, 2013 | 10:35 pm

          Kenric, I know they don’t mix oils because I know them. I trust them. If they say “this oil comes from the same grove of olive trees that our family has been harvesting olives at by hand for years,” that’s good enough for me.

          Really, the salient point is that in the UC Davis study single producers and small co-ops were *always* authentic.

          This oil comes from a single olive oil press and a small collection of neighboring olive groves which all pick by hand (no huge trucks or massive scale growing going on here). The olives are ancient varieties that are rapidly being lost due to the advent of industrial olive farming.

          You can watch a video touring their olive oil groves & mill here:

          Really, you can’t find anything more in line with Food Renegade ideals unless you (like me) happen to live within 9 miles of an olive ranch and can watch them harvest, press, & bottle your oil on the spot.

    • Lora
      December 17, 2013 | 11:44 am

      I don’t think some of you are reading this article well. Or perhaps you are not comprehending what you are reading in the way it was meant to be understood. Maybe you do not understand how a blog with sponsors works, either.
      First of all the title is not misleading. Anyone who writes for the public understands that you must have a catchy title and this is attention-getting. We all want to know how to tell if our oil is adulterated. The question is: How to tell if your olive oil is fake? This is answered in the content. What I learned in reading the article is that, short of sending a sample to a laboratory, there is no way to tell if it is fake unless you pick the olives and make it yourself or watch someone do the entire process. Even buying from a local farmer is not a 100 % guarantee. You may trust that person, but he/she could too, mix oils. It is just that with fewer cooks in the kitchen, there are fewer opportunities for something to be done to the oil for the sake of greed. Dealing with local farmers or a long distance reputable farmer, is a way to up the odds that you are getting what you are paying for. And then, to be 100% sure, you should have it tested. I’d let my oil source know I would randomly test in order for there to be some accountability.
      When I tell friends about something I use, I am ‘advertising’ for the product. Word of mouth is a powerful means of advertising. I don’t often tell others about something I do not personally use and if I do, I make sure they know I only know about the product, but not that I know it to be reputable. I will only tell them either what I use and know to be quality, or I will tell them what I know not to be good quality. I have no compulsion to list products just to give them options. I feel this is what the author was doing here–tell us what she personally uses and feels is a good product.

      Since this brand is her sponsor, she is expected, I am sure, to mention and promote their brand. It is a symbiotic relationship. She has found this to be a good brand. They support her and she supports them. I understand this and have no problem with the author doing this in her blog. I would expect it to be so.
      Thanks to the author for your time, effort and commitment to sharing with us things you have learned and feel important to pass on.

  2. Nikki Ake via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 8:49 am

    Can’t anything be what it says it is??!!

  3. Mystik Maven via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 8:51 am

    La Campagna imports directly from Italy. They offer three different types of intensity. It is where I get my olive oil from. They have actually been to the olive pressing in Italy. 440.871.1771

  4. Michael AndAmanda Trihey via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 8:55 am

    Can you jot just read the bottle? Are you saying even if it says 100% organic cold pressed.. all that jazz. It could still be cut with something else?

    • Dana
      December 17, 2013 | 2:44 pm

      Olive oil is not the only oil that can be organic and cold-pressed.

      I wonder, however, how good the various certifying agencies are. Because I’ve started looking for that on my olive oil labels. That would have been useful information but it’s not even mentioned here.

  5. Lesley Davies via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:02 am

    First of all being imported directly from Italy is often just a catchphrase to make the consumer feel safer. No guarantee. If you really want true unadulterated OO ask for the proof. A good manufacturer will be able and willing to provide a oils chemistry.

  6. Lesley Davies via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:10 am

    It’s my complete understanding that all grocery and generally large scale producers are cutting there product no less than 50% and more with what you hope are edible oils.

  7. Lesley Davies via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:11 am

    I say you take FRs ” jovial” to task and demand the chemistry.

  8. Lisa Bowers Granby via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:21 am

    I read somewhere that the ” USDA quality monitored” label will be on bottles of real olive oil… I wonder what their standards would be?

  9. Daun Felker Pringle via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:31 am

    I buy my olive oil from California Olive Ranch.

    • Karen
      December 17, 2013 | 11:49 am

      I do also, and I hope they are what they say they are.

      • Kristen
        December 17, 2013 | 3:11 pm

        If you click through to the UC Davis study, you’ll see they’re one of the brands tested. They always came back as 100% authentic.

  10. The Butternut Beat via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:33 am

    So disturbing but thank you for helping spread the word and giving us tips to tell.

  11. Michael AndAmanda Trihey via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:38 am

    So if it’s cut with other stuff the bottle is still allowed to say 100%organic olive oil?

  12. Deborah Luciano via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 9:53 am

    Fortunate to have Queen Creek Olive Mill 10 minutes down the road!

  13. Gayle Smith via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 10:07 am

    I buy the gallon of it from Walmart for less than $20. I tested it and it is real! I would have bet against it.

  14. Melissa Yancer via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 10:57 am

    Thank you!!!! I’ve been wanting to switch olive oils…

  15. Lesley Davies via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 11:22 am

    Lisa USDA label can mean anything.

  16. Karen
    December 14, 2013 | 11:24 am

    Seems very much an advertisement for one specific company. If not, more would be mentioned. No info on which brands are ‘fake’.

    • Kristen
      December 14, 2013 | 11:40 am

      The very first sentence says that 70% of all olive oil is fake. That’s basically *all* brands.

      The entire point of this post is that you can’t trust brands. Instead, you need to be seek out sources from farmers you know and trust, and if you don’t know of or have any local olive oil farmers, then you need to buy olive oil from a single small farm or co-op of growers.

      That list is a mile long, so there is no way to list them all. Instead, you just need to be a savvy shopper and research where the various brands of olive oil available where you live come from.

    • Zoe
      December 15, 2013 | 12:00 am

      Agreed. It would have been a much more helpful post if she had listed MORE trustworthy brands. Not everyone has access to just one specific brand. The fact that only one was listed proves this post was written more as a plug for the company and less to educate us on olive oil.

  17. Kelli Calhoun McCarthy via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 11:29 am

    We only buy from local family farms – very disappointing for all who are trying to make healthier choices. One more reason to not trust our food supply……

  18. Food Renegade via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 11:53 am

    Michael AndAmanda Trihey — I suggest reading this post to help give you answers:

  19. Food Renegade via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 11:55 am

    Lesley Davies — Here’s a link where you can find the report about Jovial’s olive oil chemistry:

  20. Lesley Davies via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 1:24 pm

    I never blindly trust anyone when it comes to food. Period. And trusting a conglomerate such as Walmart to give you a gallon of real olive oil for that price is exactly poison. You can not tell if olive oil is real by taste. Did you know most cheap olive oil is classed as in edible lamp oil. It says so right in the book you quote. If people are shopping at Walmart and assuming they are getting real food they do indeed need to get their heads out of denial and into reality.

  21. Michael AndAmanda Trihey via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 2:53 pm

    Does anyone buy there olive oil from Costco? Ive been buying there organic 100% half gallon for years. Going to watch the video that Food Renegade directed me to now. I also buy the 1 gallon organic coconut oil too.

    • Jeannie
      December 17, 2013 | 11:55 am

      I also buy Costco. I read awhile back that their organic extra virgin olive oil is 100% olive oil. Is that still true?

  22. Marla Bieber Abe via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 5:58 pm

    From a fair trade store that works with co-ops overseas.

  23. Hectito Risario via Facebook
    December 14, 2013 | 7:14 pm

    thanks for sharing

  24. Sandy
    December 14, 2013 | 9:05 pm

    But you are not telling us how to tell if it’s fake. Find your website unfortunately to be mostly product advertising. :-(. Might have to stop following.

    • Kristen
      December 14, 2013 | 9:48 pm

      I am confused. I did tell you how to tell if it’s fake. I spent the whole article pointing out that the only way to be *sure* you’re getting the real deal is to know your farmer, or to buy from small farms and co-ops without middle men. I also pointed readers to the UC Davis laboratories where they can have their olive oil tested for authenticity.

      Also, if you do not want to hear about the companies that are doing things right, or the books I am reading, or the recipes I find useful and the cookbooks I get them from, then you probably *should* unsubscribe since that is the whole point of my blog (at least in my mind). It’s to equip you, the reader, with the tools and information I find helpful and useful on my real food journey.

      • Sandy
        December 15, 2013 | 6:57 pm

        There is no practical advice on how to tell its fake, so your title is misleading. The average consumer is not going to send bottles of olive oil to an independent agency for testing and we don’t know any local farmers in the northeast farming olives :-0 Thanks for posting and answering though.

        • joanna n.
          December 17, 2013 | 12:11 pm

          first of all, thank you for the informative article, food renegade! Now to Sandy & the others who don’t have olive oil producers down the road, i believe the food renegade was trying to help you by providing a source in jovial food. if you would like choices, i would highly recommend joelle olive oil ( although i personally haven’t checked out their farm, our dr. & a nurse, both who are very careful in what they consume, have done their research on this producer; it’s the real deal. my husband & i have bought from them for awhile now, & it’s amazing the difference in appearance as well as taste.

  25. Erin@The Humbled Homemaker
    December 14, 2013 | 10:26 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Kristen! I’ll have to check out Jovial. It sounds like a great brand!

  26. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama
    December 14, 2013 | 10:36 pm

    Neat…I’ve heard all of these tips in the past on how to ‘test’ your olive oil, and wondered if they were real or not. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I keep thinking I need to get better, real olive oil. It’s on my list.

  27. Winnie
    December 14, 2013 | 10:43 pm

    Jovial’s sent me some of their olive oil to sample and it really is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to highlight an excellent company.

  28. Emily @ Live Renewed
    December 14, 2013 | 11:06 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this Kristen, I think it’s an important topic that people need to know about! And I’m always thankful when bloggers I trust and respect share their favorite brands with me – it saves me time from having to do all of the research myself!

  29. Kresha @ Nourishing Joy
    December 15, 2013 | 1:13 am

    Thank you, Kristen, as always, for a really helpful post. I’ve always wondered if there was some litmus test that could be used to test olive oil – and now I know. :-)

  30. Sue Weible via Facebook
    December 15, 2013 | 2:18 am

    I buy from a small local farmer coop here in Georgia! The oil is a vibrant bright green and has a lovely taste. This is a new cottage industry in south Georgia. I am confident it is pure extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. LOL I buy very few things at the grocery store. Buying farm direct is the best choice and the people who deserve the money actually get it!!!

    • Ang
      January 15, 2014 | 3:14 am

      What’s the name of the farm? I’m interested in buying from a local farm in GA too. Thanks!

  31. Katie Elder via Facebook
    December 15, 2013 | 2:56 am

    Marla, buying foreign is the worst thing you can do. Not only are you not supporting local farmers, foreign food doesn’t have the strict regulations that we have here and who knows what you’re eating. For instance, we just threw away 60,000 pounds of chicken meat because of possible, but not confirmed, mice. China would never take those precautions and who even knows if it’s even chicken. They literally process cardboard into their food and poison their baby formula. Oh and all the dogs over here that have died due to foreign food.

  32. Chris Herndon Bade via Facebook
    December 15, 2013 | 9:10 am

    We, as a nation of individuals, are pretty da*#ed arrogant! This is an encouraging and educational page. If you have trust issues, they are yours, please kindly stop blaming others. FR, THANK you for all your posts, long suffering, and humor.

  33. Kelly @ The Nourishing Home
    December 15, 2013 | 12:43 pm

    Kristen, this post was so helpful. I had only heard about two of the tests you mentioned – the fridge test being the one I seem to see on the net a bunch and sadly, it’s not even accurate. So I appreciate the time you took to share more reliable methods for checking our olive oil to ensure it’s real. I haven’t tried Jovial, but will definitely check into it. Like you, I love to point people to doing their own research and especially looking for ways to find and support local farmers and co-ops. So I appreciate you pointing us in the right direction!

  34. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet
    December 15, 2013 | 3:59 pm

    Thanks so much for bringing attention to this important topic! It was really eye-opening when I researched this topic myself, and it definitely changed my olive oil shopping habits.

  35. Donatella
    December 17, 2013 | 12:07 pm

    Please tell me which oils ‘don’t burn'; since that’s one of the clues you give. I was under the perhaps mistaken impression that all oils will burn, whether in an oil lamp or otherwise.

    And while the food snobs who apparently can’t tell the difference freak out about all the ‘fake’ olive oil they may be consuming, has it ever occurred to anyone that imported ANYthing is a luxury and that Bertolli or whatever might just be fine. Or am I to understand that it’s somehow poison? Leave the lying labels to the Food and Drug Administration cops, and the ads for certain olive oil companies to something besides a blogger.

  36. Sue Bonilla
    December 17, 2013 | 12:27 pm

    Wondering about Marca Verde il Classico sold by Sur La Table

  37. Janette
    December 17, 2013 | 12:58 pm

    Oh my goodness – am I the only who is shocked at all the negativity about the article? As someone who admittedly needs to be spoon-fed information I feel that I have exactly the information I need to search online, ask at my co-op OR purchase from Jovial. In fact, I wouldn’t mind supporting a company who is making a concerted effort to preserve ancient varieties of traditional food, especially considering the predominance of GMO in the US. What’s the problem, people????

  38. Melissa
    December 17, 2013 | 1:07 pm

    Wow. Reading this, and then reading the comments has reaffirmed two things to me. 1. We cannot even trust labels. 2. Americans have no brains. I say that with love. But honestly people!! Take a moment and be grateful there are people out there doing ANY research whatsoever. Jovial has seemed to be a good brand to me. Thank FR!

  39. Graham
    December 17, 2013 | 2:41 pm

    I guess here in Marlborough New Zealand we are VERY lucky. All our cows are grass fed on green pastures all year round. We have friends that have a raw milk vending business to those that want it – all legal.Pretty much every fruit and vegetable grows well here. We ourselves grow over 50 different types.
    Also some years ago the returned soldiers club from WW2 set up an olive grove Memorial to remember those soldiers that fell fighting in the Olive Groves of Europe, Crete, Italy etc. This is now harvested every year and the oil sold at their headquarters to supply them with funds. You could say that even after 70 years our old veterans are still protecting their families by providing REAL Olive Oil..They sell it in old recycled wine bottles from our wine industry.

    • Honora
      December 22, 2013 | 1:07 am

      There are some battery cows around in New Zealand. Some are in the McKenzie country down south. Dairy farmers sometimes supplement the feed with Palm Kernel Extract. A few years ago, New Zealand imported a quarter of the world’s production of this to feed the cows. It all depends on the largesse of the milk cheque and how much debt the farmers are in. On some farms the cow’s ear tag electronically tells the wheat dispenser how much wheat that individual cow is permitted to eat. The dispenser will allocate up to 1kg of wheat for each cow. I don’t know if this is twice daily or not.

      As you know most of our dairy cow operations are becoming owned by corporations so the game is changing big-time. A friend of mine works on a dairy farm. Her husband told me all they care about is profit, not cows.

      Raw milk is only allowed to be sold in New Zealand directly from the farm. You are very lucky to access that milk. How I’d love to be able to source it. New Zealand has just permitted the first raw cheese manufacturer to go ahead. It’s a goat milk operation near Te Aroha. Watch this space for more permits.

  40. chad
    December 17, 2013 | 3:10 pm

    What about California oils? What about Paul Newman brand? There have GOT to be a lot of authentic and affordable first-pressed, cold-pressed olive oils coming out of California.

  41. ktb
    December 17, 2013 | 3:22 pm

    We buy California Olive Ranch after getting a gluten 9Or whatever!!) reaction from Bertolli—which is obviously not 100% OVOO. California Olive Ranch tastes very fresh and very different from cheap grocery store brands.

  42. Richelle
    December 17, 2013 | 3:41 pm

    Not to take away from your page, but I see people asking for some tried and true supermarket oils.

  43. Nancy Jones
    December 17, 2013 | 7:02 pm

    I wouldn’t trust anything the USDA says on a stack of Bibles! We already know the head of the USDA is a former CEO scientist employee of Monsanto and he is one of the biggest liars on the planet and is probably taking kickbacks from Monsanto and the rest of the crooked politicians! One has to educate oneself when it comes to consumer goods and services. I feel fairly confident the the oil I purchased is 100% EVOO as I purchased it from Tropical Traditions. If anyone can tell me otherwise I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks. :-)

  44. Angel
    December 17, 2013 | 9:29 pm

    Too bad the shipping is not free to Canada, or I would certainly buy some.

  45. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom
    December 17, 2013 | 10:31 pm

    I really appreciate your posting about this Kristen. I was actually in a store about 2 months ago where there was a sale on olive oil and I called my husband asking him to research the company before I jumped on the sale. I was thinking he should look at your posts on the topic since I recalled you having good info on the subject while back.

    Thanks again!

  46. Natalie Morse
    December 18, 2013 | 11:30 am

    Unfortunately, the adulteration of olive oil is just the beginning. Most who use traditional fats won’t run into this problem, but anyone who buys specialty oils, flavored oils, salad dressings, sauces, etc, more likely then not, the oils are not what is claimed on the label.

    I work for a company that produces a lot of edible oils. All our oils are laboratory tested for purity and authenticity, and all those 3rd party lab test available with simple explanations of the data for anyone who wants to see them, most importantly our customers. Its not difficult. Any reputable company will do lab testing on their products and any consumer considering buying should ask for copies of those tests. If the company won’t provide them, they are probably hiding something.

  47. Peter Alcantara
    December 18, 2013 | 12:03 pm

    in Virginia a friend has a farm and partners with an amazing olive producing family.

    Laconiko Olive Oil 500mL/16.9fl.oz is $25. Laconiko olive oil is a fourth generation family of olive oil producers whose estate is on the sandy beaches of Southern Peloponnese, just outside Sparta, Greece. The relatively small number of olive trees on their estate, surrounded by orange and grapefruit trees, allows for an olive oil that is unique and wonderful. The family is committed to bringing a true extra virgin olive oil to the States, this years harvest has a low acidity of 0.13% (to be an extra virgin acidity must be below 0.8%). Brothers, Diamantis and Dino, reside in Gainesville, VA, but take turns returning to their family’s olive estate to work the land with their father. Laconiko olive oil is on Weston A. Price’s “best” list for their shopping guide.

  48. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom
    December 18, 2013 | 6:45 pm

    Pinned Kristen. Again, great post!

  49. lexi
    December 18, 2013 | 7:34 pm

    I have bought Palestinian olive oil knowing it is real and supporting a people who have constantly been attacked (by having their olive trees cut down as well as killing them) It may be foreign but I do support them. I know their olive oil is real because that is what they grow.

  50. Zhinka
    December 18, 2013 | 8:37 pm

    This sounds so nice, but it left me wondering, how much did you get paid to advertise their oil?
    Do you suggest any oils that you have not been paid to tell us are good?

    • Kristen
      December 18, 2013 | 8:40 pm

      Yes. As I wrote in the post, I recommend any oil that is from a single grower or a small co-op of growers.

  51. Mary
    December 19, 2013 | 11:32 am

    Just a quick question. Is each bottle 33 oz or are all 3 together 33 oz.?

    • Kristen
      December 19, 2013 | 11:47 am

      Each bottle is 33oz.

  52. Ros
    December 19, 2013 | 1:01 pm

    Seriously, people…this article is a valid blog post from a real food website that has taught me and many others how to eat to achieve optimal health. It is up to me, the consumer, what to do with the information presented (is it right for me, my situation, ad ideals). Thank you Kristin for giving me the info I need to make those choices for myself.

  53. Honora
    December 22, 2013 | 1:15 am

    My brother gifted me a bottle of olive oil for xmas. He picked the olives himself at a neighbour’s farm and they gave him 5 500ml bottles as a gift. I’d just spent $22 on a bottle of New Zealand made organic stuff so I’ll be making mayonnaise very shortly. The best olive oil I had was in a village in Turkey. The farmer jumped in her bare feet all over a sack of olives that had had hot water poured over it. We scooped up the oil with dried figs as it came out. Interestingly, there were no gastrointestinal sequelae. I guess it’s because it was good food.

  54. Jim
    January 15, 2014 | 4:51 pm

    I’m confused. If you can’t trust the label how do you know that a bottle labeled as Jovial isn’t grown elsewhere and repackaged? Maybe you can go to the farm and watch the specific 1 pound of olives picked, cured, pressed, bottled and labeled for your one bottle. and see that the product isn’t mixed with anything else?

    • Kristen
      January 15, 2014 | 5:53 pm

      Yes, Jim. I trust the Jovial bottle because I know the owners in real life. They’re real people, real friends, and they’ve watched this oil being pressed and bottled.

      Also, even if I didn’t know them, I could trust the olive oil because of what I wrote in my post — that olive oil from single farms or small co-ops is reliably authentic. The Jovial oil is bottled by a small co-op of growers specific to a single valley in Italy. There are no middle men, no big conglomerate buyers to buy the oil in bulk, cart it away in trucks, and then mix and blend it and bottle it and sell it. The fraud happens in those extra steps. So long as you’re buying directly from the farmer or the small co-op, you’re protected.

      Hope that helps!

  55. Ellen
    January 23, 2014 | 10:27 pm

    H Kristen. I enjoyed your article about olive oil. I have a favorite that is grown and bottled by a family farm in Greece. But I live in Austin, TX and wondering if you gave a favorite local olive oil farmer?

  56. extra virgin olive oil
    January 24, 2014 | 9:54 am

    I know that worlds most popular oil is olive oil ,but what is in second position that i may use it for a change plz tell me.

  57. Beth
    January 30, 2014 | 3:04 pm

    Kristen, I can’t get any of the links in your post to work so I wonder if they are no longer working.

  58. Nicole Valdez via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 8:10 pm

    It may sound silly but where can I buy an oil lamp. Like what kind exactly. I have seen some in stores but there is an oil or fuel that you buy so I am not sure what kind of oil lamp.

  59. Amanda Kowalski via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 8:11 pm

    Is Braggs oo real?

  60. Sarah Compston via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 8:44 pm

    I buy trader joe’s brand, anyone know if its the real thing?

  61. Sarah Quinn via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 8:50 pm

    Fake olive oil?!? Ugh why?

  62. Suzanne Bedard Brown via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 8:51 pm

    I buy olive oil direct from the farm that produces it. They ship all over the USA.

  63. Bob Stenerson via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 8:52 pm

    Oil lamps from lehmans

  64. Cherine Mourad Murray via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 9:08 pm

    Jason Patterson

  65. Jason Patterson via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 9:13 pm

    How funny just talking about this. Al mashrek is pretty good for the price.

  66. Cherine Mourad Murray via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 9:17 pm

    Jason, ever purchased a Texas olive oil? Author makes reference to buying from local farms in central Texas. I never knew.

  67. Jason Patterson via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 9:27 pm

    Oh closes one I know around that is pretty good is outside of round rock I think granger. Centrel texas olive oil

  68. Siobhann Pettway via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 9:35 pm

    Tagging you since we were just talking about this Tillie Baker

  69. Donna Dison via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 9:48 pm

    I buy organic olive oil. Does that guarantee that it is real.

  70. Wendy Riddel via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 11:05 pm

    I buy our EVOO from the grove that grows and presses it. We know the owners, plus have seen the certifications required for each pressing. NZ has super strict labelling and testing requirements.

  71. Alice Benham via Facebook
    February 3, 2014 | 11:30 pm

    The Texas Hill Country Olive Company comes to our farmer’s market here in Houston. We love their oil!

  72. MichaelandCryste Cole via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 12:44 am

    Kristin Ter Kuile Howell

  73. Lena Flores via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 2:16 am Organic Extra-virgin olive oil that is locally grown and milled (in N. Ca).

  74. Kristin Ter Kuile Howell via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 7:11 am

    Thank you MichaelandCryste Cole!!!

  75. Grant Rowe via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 8:09 am Worth every penny.

  76. Windy Lee via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 8:11 am

    veronica foods makes and deals with 100% pure evoo. people open small stores using their products in the usa.

  77. Julie Parcells via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 8:43 am

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear but it’s the “click here to buy” link in the article that doesn’t work.

  78. Single Man's Kitchen via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 9:37 am

    Alice Benham Texas Hill Country Olive oil is one of the outfits that blends with out of state and possibly out of country oils. If you read the bottle it says “Product of Texas” not grown and pressed in Texas. Sorry.

  79. Single Man's Kitchen via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 9:38 am

    If you want Texas olive oil from a verified producer. The first cold press of arbequina olive oil (extra virgin) from Texas Olive Ranch is a good starting point.

  80. Katherine D'Aunno Buchanan via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 12:27 pm

    I buy that oil at the farmer’s market in Houston also. I’m so disappointed.

  81. Eliah Golden Clark via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 12:33 pm

    Knowing the crush date is paramount. — Freshness is key. Even amazing, authentic evoo will degrade to virgin over time.

  82. Food Renegade via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 1:13 pm

    Alice Benham Wanted you to see the comment above from Single Man’s Kitchen. It’s the same thing honey bottlers do — saying “Product of Texas” so you think they’re local, when really they’re just importing honey from all over and blending/bottling it for distribution. The only way to know for sure is to talk to the folks at Texas Hill Country Olive Oil and ask about what they do. I buy from Central Texas Olive Ranch (about 9 miles from my house!) and Texas Olive Ranch.

    Texas Hill Country Olive Oil definitely has an olive tree orchard (I’ve seen it), but they may not use all their own olives to make the oil. They may buy extra olives and oils from elsewhere. You won’t know unless you ask them. In OR, Tillamook is the same way. They have these beautiful fields full of grass-fed cows, but they also supplement their own supply of milk with milk from elsewhere before making their cheeses (which is why they’re not advertised as a grass-fed cheese).

  83. Alice Benham via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 1:18 pm

    They have several brands at their booth; some say their company name on it and some have other labels, so they seem pretty up front about which ones they grow and which they import. I do know they import their balsamic vinegar from elsewhere and then flavor it themselves. Maybe I’ll take them up on their repeated invitations to go tour their orchard, and pick their brains about what all they sell. :)

  84. Kayla DiGiovanni via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 1:20 pm

    I’ve always wondered about tillamook, do they get relatively healthy milk to supplement their own??

  85. Food Renegade via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 1:31 pm

    Kayla DiGiovanni — When I last looked into it (about 3 years ago), they said that all the milk they bought was growth hormone and antibiotic-free. But it’s not necessarily grass-fed like their own milk is.

  86. Morgan Shimp via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 4:14 pm

    Have you ever been to Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars in Austin? I’ve heard their EVO is the best and freshest around!

  87. Windy Lee via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 4:32 pm

    there are a bunch of places like that popping up all over the country, thank goodness!

  88. Wendy Carver via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 6:43 pm

    I bought Costco organic olive oil and left in the car during the polar vortex – it froze solid. Seems like a thumbs up to me.

  89. Dawn Shatto via Facebook
    February 4, 2014 | 7:41 pm

    Sadly, I have been duped! And, I thought I was a pretty savvy consumer. What in the world are we going to do?

  90. Karl
    March 13, 2014 | 1:39 pm

    Hi Kristen, thank you for your article, it was helpful. I haven’t read all of the posts/comments so I might have missed it, but I was wondering if you might also know of any other brands that I might find at Whole Foods that you think/feel would be 100% organic first cold pressed pure olive oil? Thanks.

  91. Beata Posala Drazek via Facebook
    March 28, 2014 | 1:06 pm

    I just imported 3 L of organic oil from Cyprus. I know that the TO ARKONTIKO oil is as good as it gets. A small, honest producer with a vision. I just wish somebody in the UK decided to become a distributor of this absolutely fabulous product. Importing a small quantity supports the postal service and not the producer. And how do I know it is real? well, it is heaven… as fresh as a green meadow.

  92. Tina Malone via Facebook
    March 28, 2014 | 1:29 pm


  93. Windy Lee via Facebook
    March 28, 2014 | 3:18 pm

    There are authentic olive oil and balsamic vinegar places popping up now that sell from small growers through small distributesr. I work at such a place. I didn’t know what fresh olive oil tasted like till this place opened up. Thank goodness! Now I can stay away from crappy oil in the stores.

  94. Celia Kelly via Facebook
    March 28, 2014 | 7:09 pm

    Lucero, napa

  95. Anniedwin White via Facebook
    March 28, 2014 | 8:19 pm

    I can totally tell the difference in the smell.

  96. Lisa Long via Facebook
    March 28, 2014 | 9:54 pm

    I honestly just stopped eating it altogether.

  97. Cindy Newman via Facebook
    March 29, 2014 | 12:13 am

    Queen Creek Olive Mill in Queen Creek, Arizona. Small, local, delicious.

  98. Toni
    April 9, 2014 | 4:52 pm

    I bought the Jovial oil package, and I have to say that this is the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted. Matter of fact, it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before: fresh, fruity, full of life. I’ve used it straight from the bottle and cooked with it, and it is truly amazing. It’s also a great value. Just thought I’d share for those of you wondering. I’m never going back to store bought!

  99. Stephanie
    April 21, 2014 | 9:49 pm


    I also live in central Texas. Can you recommend me some of the farmers’ products I can purchase or visit? I live in Austin.

    Thank you

  100. momy (shlomo) garty
    June 3, 2014 | 8:00 am

    As an olive grower + land & nature guide from Israel – where olive trees are cultivated for more than 6000 years.
    I grow in organic method – about 3000 olive trees, doing all the work by myself, with family & friends help in the picking season.

    In Israel It is sad but true that many people buy fake olive oil, the supermarkets are selling damaged oil, mainly from Spain. many bottles are mixed with other oils, I was told that some can couse canser

    The “oil producers” invest in two things chimestry-that past the lab checks and gives the ‘right’ color and aroma plus marketing that is better than the one that a small organic farmer can do.

    People prefer the junk in the store than my extra virgin that is sold localy for 14$ per one litre… basicly they pay the same amount of money for the fake/low grade oilve oli.

  101. Katheryn Barrett via Facebook
    June 12, 2014 | 7:20 pm

    Well that’s expensive. Ugh.

  102. Jessica Hodgkinson via Facebook
    June 12, 2014 | 7:48 pm

    I love jovial olive oil :) I bought the massive three pack at the beginning of the year when they were having their new harvest sale and only just broke in to my second bottle. It is beautifully olivey, and more mild than some of the spicier oils I’ve tried. I was very pleased with my purchase :D

  103. Gene Vacca via Facebook
    June 12, 2014 | 8:23 pm

    Tricky business with the middleman. Is there nothing sacred anymore? I will try Jovial, I love olive oil as much as watermelon!

  104. Sue Weible via Facebook
    June 12, 2014 | 10:23 pm

    I buy a locally produced olive oil. Super happy I have that option!

  105. Debora Crandall via Facebook
    June 13, 2014 | 8:33 am

    I sort of gave up on evoo and moved to avocado oil.

  106. Lorenzo
    July 19, 2014 | 12:12 pm

    Hi Kristen,

    I have read your article and I thought I give you a simpler test, how you can find out if your Olive Oil is fake or not. the test its called the cooking test:)

    Take a Frying Pan, poor some of your Olive Oil you bought in it and put your flame to full power, if the Oil change his colour to transparent, then its real 100% Olive Oil, if the colour doesn’t change at all, then you have unfortunately a fake one, no matter how much money you have paid for.. here is the maximum smoke point for any good 100% extra virgin oil, it is “just under 200°F”

    here a other thing you have to look for when you buy Olive Oil, if its written D.O.P or P.D.O on the bottle, then you can be sure its best quality. here the definition for D.O.P :

    DOP – Quality Assurance
    What is D.O.P.?

    D.O.P./P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin/ Protected Geographical Indication) defined by the European Union and is connected with the specific geographical area that defines the quality, taste and other singular characteristics.

    Why is D.O.P. important?

    D.O.P. status was created by the European Union in 1992 as a way to ensure the quality and authenticity of the foods we consume, but also as a way to help promote those agricultural products and foods that have special value because of the way or place in which they are produced.

    Sitia in Crete and Kalamata in Peloponnese are agricultural areas that produce products with Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) D.O.P. Sitia, Lasithi Crete and Kalamata accordingly and they have been defined and protected by the European Committee in order to:

    Give to farmers and producers a fair remuneration for producing higher quality products
    Provide a EU guarantee to consumers about the superior quality products they are eating.
    What does D.O.P. guarantee?
    That the olive oil is produced in a specific geographic area.
    That the olive oil is pressed from a specific variety of olives cultivated in that
    area. The quality and organoleptic characteristics of olive oil depend on the
    climate and the soil.
    That the olive oil is pressed at less than 27oC.
    That the Ministry of Agriculture and the EU concur on the quantity of D.O.P.
    olive oil produced in a given year.
    That each bottle is numbered in accordance with a strictly monitored
    D.O.P. can only be extra virgin olive oils of superior quality.

  107. Lorenzo
    July 19, 2014 | 12:46 pm

    and here is what they don’t tell you of the definition of Extra- Virgin Olive Oil:
    Extra-virgin olive oil Comes from virgin oil production only, and is of higher quality: among other things, it contains no more than 0.8% free acidity (see below), and is judged to have a superior taste, having some fruitiness and no defined sensory defects. Extra-virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 65%, Spain 30%). this means in Spain they put 30% Extra-Virgin and the rest they can put in what ever they want:)

  108. RHS
    August 30, 2014 | 11:58 am

    I prefer supporting US farmers, whether that be in the same state you live in or another state across the country. Keeping it local or as local as possible vs global keeps our money HERE. And keeps JOBS HERE!!!
    Nothing against Italy, both my grandfathers were Italian.

  109. Kraut Source via Facebook
    August 31, 2014 | 11:04 pm

    Are you familiar with Olive Oil sold in a box? This seems to be common in Europe and provides a longer shelf life/better quality…can’t find this in the United States.

  110. Priscilla Basilio via Facebook
    September 1, 2014 | 7:35 am

    Like a metal tin?

  111. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    September 1, 2014 | 1:04 pm

    wow, what a coincidence, I just decided to switch over from olive oil to other oils because finally found out about olive oil fraud and it sinking in.

  112. Tucker Mall via Facebook
    September 1, 2014 | 10:35 pm

    Jill Mall

  113. michael sideris
    September 3, 2014 | 9:23 am

    As a 5year old my father used to put me on the plow for extra weight. I was taught to maintain what was giving to us by our ancestors. I harvest and press a single cultivar from olive trees dating 1000 of years. My olive to oil pressing ratio is (one) kilo of oil from 3 kilos of olives. That is 34 percent oil. While all other artisanal olive oils are between 3-10 percent oil.
    The olive oil industry has been high jacked the past 40 years from know nothings and government officials.
    I would recommend that you choose your olive oil and farmer carefully…All farmers are beholden to our region. Soil, elevation, weather all effect the type of tree and oil produced from those trees.
    My olive trees were discovered and planted by our ancient ancestors. My family was smart enough to understand, respect and maintain was giving to us. You eat my oil you are eating history. I have not changed a thing. I produce between 600-1200 bottle per year-It’s as close as you will ever get to tasting olive oil for the first time in your life.

    Also all olive presses keep records. They weight the olives and weight the oil from the olives. This olive to oil info is very informative if you know what to look for…Anyone wants to discuss olive oil with me let me know.

  114. Gordon Graham
    September 16, 2014 | 9:25 am

    Like millions of human beings, I live in a part of the world where no olive tree has ever grown. There are no “coops of local farmers” within thousands of miles of here. I found this article alarmist and promotional. The fact that so many people say the same things and you argue back in your comments just shows that you haven’t provided much value here. Send in a sample to a lab? Are you kidding? Light some on fire in a lamp? Well, that’s almost a useful tip… almost. I’ll keep searching to find some content with less of an obvious agenda.

  115. happy new year messages
    October 5, 2014 | 9:05 pm

    Hello, its fastidious piece of writing on the topic of media print, we all be familiar with media is a fantastic source of facts.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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