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The World Of Olive Oil

“Extra virginity.” We’ll look at the sublime and scandalous world of olive oil.

A farmer pours olives from a bucket she picked before sorting out the leaves during the harvest, Monday, Sept. 27, 2010. A staple of many farmers around the world, olives are often used to make olive oil.  (AP)

A farmer pours olives from a bucket she picked before sorting out the leaves during the harvest, Monday, Sept. 27, 2010. A staple of many farmers around the world, olives are often used to make olive oil. (AP)

From ancient days, olive oil was the oil of the gods.  Of the sacred.  Bathe in it.  Anoint with it.  Burn it in praise.  Today, olive oil is the paragon of health foods.  The golden foundation of the Mediterranean diet.

But do you know what you’re buying when you buy olive oil? My guest today says the market is swimming in scandal.  Musty, grubby, rancid olive oil “deodorized” and passed off as extra virgin.  Italian flags slapped on oil from all over.  Health benefits promised and lost in fraud.

This hour, On Point:  Extra virginity.  The sublime and scandalous world of olive oil.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Tom Mueller, writes for The New Yorker and other publications. He lives in a medieval stone farmhouse surrounded by olive groves in the Ligurian countryside outside of Genoa, Italy. He’s the author of the new book Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.

Demeter “Mimi” Kotsonis, Greek-American resident of Athens. Her family owns a grove of 300 olive trees in the village of Skourochori near ancient Olympia.

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From Tom’s Reading List

Olive Oil Times “Lately the olive oil industry has been struggling with a wrenching crisis brought on by mass-market price wars and a flood of low quality olive oil — a lot of it falsely labelled extra virgin.”

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