Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Olive Oil: Reading the Labels

Ever since I read the New Yorker article on The Olive Oil Scandle I have been goosey about olive oils, reading the labels. My friends (Palestinian) tell me I should always buy Palestinian olive oil, and from the oils they have shared with me, holy smokes! I think they are right.

Try finding Palestinian olive oil in Pensacola. Honestly, sometimes I am afraid they are going to arrest me in the stores as I stand for a half hour, turning all the bottles and trying to read the labels, some of which are in very very tiny print. One thing the Gulf States (Arabian Gulf, my friends) have going for them is some excellent labeling on the foods they import.

When I came across this label, I could hardly believe it. I am sure they probably don’t like me photographing in the stores, but as long as no one says anything to me, I do it. Often I am saying something nice, anyway.

So here is the front of the bottle; it looks promising:

Here is the reverse side, showing the origin of the oil, or at least where parts of it might come from . . .

Horrors! What a mess! Every bottle could be different, it’s like cat food and dog food, it’s what the oil bottler could find that was the cheapest at the moment, and maybe it is from Spain, or maybe from Tunisia or who knows where? I will NEVER buy an oil that looks like that!

Meanwhile, the search for Palestinian olive oil goes on . . .

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April 12, 2010 - Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Health Issues, Humor, Living Conditions, Marketing, Random Musings, Rants, Shopping, Technical Issue

9 Comments »

  1. Last summer in Boulder, CO, I went to an Olive Oil Tasting at a spice store. I was very surprised at the differences, but did not do enough research to consider myself an expert. So, in this case do you think it’s from one country or the other, or do they just mix it all together and bottle it??

    Comment by Grammy | April 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Intlxpatr :

    It must be frustrating being unable to take back with you some olive oil from the Middle East . Do they still ban people from bringing food items to the states or do they allow small unopened cans of food

    Comment by daggero | April 12, 2010 | Reply

  3. Grammy, I suspect it is a mix. That is a big problem with olive oil. When we lived in Tunisia, we got to know what real olive oil could be, green and fruity tasting, but still light. It’s the only time I have not been able to resist french fries; imagine frying your french fries in olive oil – it was divine. YUMMMMM.

    Daggero, I think I could bring oil in, as through the years I have brought foods in – processed foods, even mint tea. I always declare them and ask if this is ok. Meats are not OK, like sausages, etc. Fresh vegetation is not OK, but you can bring a lavendar sachet, or dried mint tea. You can bring chocolate. You can bring cookies and candy. It’s sort of unclear to me what the rules are. The problem with olive oil is that I go through so much! I couldn’t bring enough with me! I need to find a local source!

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 12, 2010 | Reply

  4. Any idea of you can get some online? Surely there are some specialty vendors in the US that would ship to FL, and it might be worth the cost, at least for special occasions.

    Comment by AcadeMama | April 14, 2010 | Reply

    • You know, AcadeMama, that is a good point. I guess I was sort of hoping I could find the Palestinian oil because I know it is rich and tasty. On the other hand, Carlos makes a good point – there is probably something coming out of California that is less commercial and may be equally tasty, and I should look online to see what is out there . . . :-) To me, good olive oil really matters.

      Comment by intlxpatr | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  5. Have you ever tried extra virgin olive oil made in the US? There are over 500 producers, mostly in California but also in Texas and Arizona. Olive varieties are imported from all over the Mediterranean, and these are guaranteed fresh. In California we often find excellent and affordable oil in farmers markets. See the following:
    California Olive Oil Council: http://www.cooc.com
    Texas Olive Oil Council: http://www.texasoliveoilcouncil.org
    Olive Oil Source: http://www.oliveoilsource.com/companies-profiles/producers

    Comment by Carlos | April 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Holy cow, over 500 producers, I had no idea. Good point, Carlos, I would love to find a small producer who makes good, tasty olive oil. I will check the sources you provided. Thank you very much.

      Comment by intlxpatr | April 14, 2010 | Reply

  6. Heh at least the label was honest. A lot of oil labelled as product of Italy is in fact Tunisian, Moroccan or from just about anywhere else. Until mid 2009 the Italian law officially sanction this practice of blending oils from anywhere and as long as it was blended in Italy then it could be claimed as being a product of that country. The law changed in 2009 but whether this long term practice has changed is yet to be seen.

    Comment by Richard G. | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. [...] Ever since I read the article on The Olive Oil Scandal in The New Yorker I have been a religious reader of labels. I have discovered that in most of the US stores, the olive oil, virgin, extra virgin or otherwise [...]

    Pingback by No Standards for Virgins or Extra Virgins in USA « Here There and Everywhere | July 8, 2010 | Reply


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