Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
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The sacred history and profane present of a substance long seen as the essence of health and civilization.
For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life's necessities-not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious ritual. Today's researchers are continuing to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra-virgin, and "extra-virgin Italian" has become the highest standard of quality.
But what if this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt? Starting with an explosive article in The New Yorker, Tom Mueller has become the world's expert on olive oil and olive oil fraud-a story of globalization, deception, and crime in the food industry from ancient times to the present, and a powerful indictment of today's lax protections against fake and even toxic food products in the United States. A rich and deliciously readable narrative, Extra Virginity is also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name "extra-virgin." 8 pages of illustrations
Bradley Chemical analysis of an olive oil helps to reveal its freshness and nutritional value, as well as certain frauds—though lab tests are far easier to satisfy than a trained taste panel. UC Davis Olive Center Droning like twin jet engines, these centrifuges at the California Olive Ranch in Artois, California, spin crushed olives at thousands of rpms, separating the oil from the water, pits, skins, and pulp also contained in the olives. Paul Vossen Olive-pomace plants, like this facility
biodiesel company delivered three batches of fatty acids intended for industrial uses, such as paper production, to a German manufacturer of vegetable feed fat. These fatty acids were contaminated with dioxin, an industrial by-product and potent carcinogen; nevertheless, they were blended into the feed fat, yielding as much as 2,256 tons of tainted feed fat, which was sold to twenty-five compound feed manufacturers. They, in turn, used it in their animal feeds, which they supplied to thousands of
Testament times; in a yearly ceremony after the olive harvest, it was sent in wagons to Jerusalem, where it was used in the Temple for ritual offerings and to light the great Menorah. When I said this, Netzer grunted and tossed a handful of pits down the slope. “Olive trees are power,” he said with surprising vehemence. “People here, both Palestinians and Israelis, grow them to control the land—to occupy it.” He said he’d been watching the groves grow up around Herodium for decades as he
in the company of Tank, his equally barrel-chested Labrador, and his conversation is loud and fast, peppered with splendid obscenities and genuine life wisdom. In 2005 Cortopassi received the prestigious Horatio Alger award for his rags-to-riches success story, and he and his wife, Joan, spend a substantial part of their time and money helping inner-city kids in nearby Stockton and Lodi. The rest of his energies are directed at fine-tuning the family business for maximum efficiency. “He’s
Tight skinned, unyielding; Firmer than a morning ache. Too muscular for weeping. They ride the rocky wagon Dressed in burlap, Millbound. Fragrant is the Miller’s song, Precious is the emerald juice, Sweet is the bitter fruit, A gift from the Goddess To the City of Light. But all is not fragrance and light in American oil. In the early 1990s, Bradley lost a longstanding customer to an olive oil wholesaler who underbid him by a wide margin, and whose identity the customer wouldn’t