Where do you shop for Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Is it the grocery, olive oil specialty shop or maybe on line at amazon? Well it has been almost a decade since the Tom Mueller’s article “Slippery Business” was published in The New Yorker. It is also going on 6 months since 60 Minutes did the exposé Agromafia on the Olive Oil business in Italy. Funny thing is that in all that time retailers haven’t really changed much in the way they approach providing what is the mother of all food frauds in the good ole USA. Part of the problem is grocers don’t want to take the time to educate their clients. The specialty olive oil shops would rather prey on consumers weakness for flavors ranging from butter to bacon than sell them great EVOO.
Here some of the basics you should know about shopping for EVOO.
Grocery Stores… Your average grocery is just a waste of time. Forget the big brands like Bertolli and Filippo Berio both of which that say they are extra virgin and any thing that is labeled virgin or light or pomace. It is not olive oil by any stretch of the imagination and European tasting panels will tell you is not fit for human consumption. When asked why they carry these products that have been documented as frauds grocers just look down at the ground and say they are their best sellers.
Why the FDA allows these fakes into the country is another mystery altogether. Every week the FDA wastes an incredible amount of time holding up the shipments of the best artisan foods and chocolate from Italy, France and Spain. They don’t inspect but a small fraction of the seafood that comes into the country and most of it is mislabeled or comes from the most contaminated seas in the world. I could go on and on the FDA is a good example of how badly broken our system of food distribution is.
Best Buy Dates...
EVOO should have a harvest date and a best buy date. The better European Oils used to just have a harvest date but after the California Olive Oil Council allowed California Olive Ranch and a few other producers to manipulate the harvest date on their EVOOs last year the Europeans have changed a few of their practices. Here are the basics… California Olive Ranch which have now gone back to the real harvest date states on their bottles that their oils have a shelf life of up to 30 months. O olive oil claims up to 48 months. This is ludicrous as the clock starts ticking on oxidation the second the olives are harvested. You can slow it down by storing it in a closed system but you can’t stop the clock. 18 months from the harvest date is the maximum amount of time before EVOO really starts to break down.
If it is Arbequina from California which doesn’t have much structure 18 month’s is generous. The best selling olive oil on Amazon is something like Grandfather’s Sicilian Olive Oil which has a harvest date of 2016. Well that is impossible but it has a cute name and label for credibility. Never buy EVOO from a producer that exaggerates the best buy or harvest date.
Don’t ever buy olive oils that do not reference a best buy date preferably accompanied by a harvest date. Castillo de Canena Picual and Arbequina are 2 of the better EVOOs I have sampled from Spain but the producer does not publish a harvest or a best buy date on the bottles. In short if I am going to spend $30 for a bottle of EVOO I want to know what the harvest date is. I know enough about distributors to tell you that product can sit in their warehouses for a while. Bulk EVOO that goes to restaurants is terrible because most of it is old at best if it is not actually adulterated with seed oils is of poor quality.
What makes us different?
The EVOO on the Crossroads Sites comes from the best producers in the world. In fact about 100 of the 500 producers who submit themselves for review in the Flos Olei Guide which is the industry Bible score from 90-98 Points. This is what the Guide considers to be in the range of excellent to very excellent in terms of farming and milling practices in addition to the overall quality of the olive oil. The olive oils that we offer come from the top 10% of the top 100 producers in the Guide. It is an extraordinary offering that includes 11 selections in the $18-$25 range in .5 liter, .750 liter and 1 liter containers. these olive oils are as good if not better than what you will find on the shelves of the best stores in the country at $30-50. We also guarantee that when you shop with us you will always receive EVOO from the current harvest which we clearly state on the website.
Special Offers To Watch Out For… Fresh Is Best
1. We have been talking about bringing in an Olio Nuevo. This refers to the best and freshest unfiltered oils made from olives harvested during the first two weeks of the season. It doesn’t have a long shelf life maybe 6 months so we want our clients to pre-book it and we will deliver it some time in November. If we do this it will be a three bottle deal and we suggest keeping just enough for your family and give one to a friend.
2. This is an absolute certainty. As soon as we dial into the ship dates of the 2016 harvest I will email the sequence of delivery which usually starts in December. There is a bigger delivery in January and a third and final delivery of the new harvest oils in February. We are going to give our customers first shot at the new oils from our collection of top producers as they enter the country.