IoS paperback review: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, By Tom Mueller


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The Independent Culture

I'm giving myself extra brownie points for actually possessing some olive oil made by the De Carlo family, one of the Italian producers of quality olive oil who, according to Mueller's fascinating study, are sadly struggling in the face of vastly inferior products, ridiculously low prices of supermarket rivals, and mafia-like corruption of what is now a global seller.

But it's not just that so much of the "extra virgin olive oil" we think is pure and unadulterated actually isn't at all; it's that much of it was never even intended for human consumption, reserved instead for lighting oil lamps. Even olive oil's ancient Italian origins can be obscured by today's statistics: the island of Crete is now the largest consumer of oil per capita, and it is Spain that produces the most.