What Happened to the Olive Oil?

I would like to know why, for the first 44 years of my life, olive oil was located in the “Baking” aisle of the grocery store, along with the flour and sugar, and suddenly it’s been moved to the “Condiments” aisle, next to the ketchup and mustard!

Olive oil can be used on salads, but most people buy it for general purpose food preparation, frying, sautéing, cooking, and baking—not to slather on their cheeseburgers.

So why is olive oil now on the shelf with the condiments?

My hypothesis is that the United States farming industry doesn’t want olive oil to be visually present as an alternative to their lucrative and unhealthy Vegetable Oil, so the clever gears of Agribusiness have displaced olive oil into an aisle where no one can find it. I plan to complain to my grocery store, CashWise, owned by Coborns.

Not that I’m pleased with the olive oil industry, either. Not surprisingly, we don’t really know where grocery store olive oil originated. The oil in my kitchen, for instance, states right on the front label that it’s “Imported from Italy,” which would lead one to think the olives are from Italy. Right? Nope, not necessarily. On the back label, I’m told that “Product contains select high quality olive oils from the countries indicated by the letters below. IT = Italy, GR = Greece, ES = Spain, TN = Tunisia, TR = Turkey, MA = Morocco”

524-114714Then a stamp below it says
FEB. 28.15 L3507R H0923 IT, ES

So in other words, I think I’m buying olive oil from Italy, then I realize it may be from one or more of 6 countries, then if I really look at the “best if used by” section, I am able to conclude that my oil originated in Italy and Spain, or Italy or Spain (we’re not sure which). It seems they bottle whatever seems to be on hand at the moment, which does give a whole different meaning to “Imported From Italy,” doesn’t it?

Recent legal cases pertaining to olives oil included producers mixing olive oil with cheaper oils and passing it off as 100% olive oil. Of course, the lawyer for Carapelli, the major producer accused of running the scam, defended the company by stating “the case is based on an irregularity in the documents.”

Documents. Right.

Anyway, once you start paying attention to where your food is coming from (or where it isn’t coming from), and who is in charge of its production, marketing, labeling, and placement in the grocery store, you can’t help but conclude that you should plant an enormous garden so that you can identify the source of at least some of your food. This Minnesotan is going to plant more than tomatoes during her short growing season this year, and she’ll planting her tomatoes from heirloom seeds, so that she can get some pesticide-free, nutrient-rich tomatoes for once (instead of the tasteless, hyper-engineered plants from Lowe’s and Fleet Farm).

Stay tuned and talk to your grocery store.

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