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Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous…

Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil (2011)

by Tom Mueller

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Not to make puns on a book about food, but "Extra Virginity" is a mighty tasty and interesting read. I do love olive oil, even though I know so little about it and I'm not a very good cook. What I actually KNOW about olive oil is that it makes better 'burger' patties than vegetable oil does. I'd read the book again if I wasn't so busy doing newer stuff.

Nate Poe ( )
  NathanielPoe | May 18, 2019 |
This is a book length report on the history and appreciation of olive oil on the one hand and its adulteration by criminals and profiteers on the other. It grew out of an article "Slippery Business" that the author wrote for the New Yorker in August 2007.

The book's website at "Extra Virginity" continues the story with current articles and links to recommended olive oil products and producers throughout the world. ( )
  alanteder | Mar 1, 2017 |
Being an experienced cook and farmer, I always wondered how grocery stores could afford to sell extra virgin olive oil at such low prices. Thanks to Mr. Mueller I now know the answer and the news isn't pretty. ( )
1 vote dele2451 | Oct 18, 2013 |
Like many books of this genre, your mileage may vary: there are parts of this book that are fascinating and parts that really drag. I was much more interested in the modern-day fraudulent olive oil trade than in the history of olive oil's popularity in the Mediterranean, which I was already familiar with. Although there is a lot going on in each chapter of the book, I found it easy to skip sections I already knew about (for instance, olive oil in religious ceremonies) and get back to more modern stories. It's worth a read if you buy olive oil for home cooking. I do, and I am now very intrigued about what I'm actually getting from Trader Joe's. I'll be watching this topic in the future to see if the European Union starts enforcing its rules around olive oil labeling. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Sep 20, 2013 |
The time came due for it to be returned...and I don't think I'll check it out again. The first 35 pages were fine, but I really don't like olive oil, and perhaps that's why it didn't grip me.
  liz.mabry | Sep 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
What I had missed was a loophole in Italian regulations so big you could ship a freighter through it — the name "Tuscan" on the label only specified where the oil had been bottled, not where it had been grown or even pressed.

In other words, in 1986 there had been a whole lot of cheap Algerian and Spanish olive oil that had been magically transformed into pricey Tuscan with just a little glue and a slip of paper. And that's the best-case scenario; odds are there was a whole lot of cottonseed oil in those bottles as well. Talk about transubstantiation! That was my introduction to the olive oil business — the temptation to describe it as "slippery" is almost irresistible and certainly justifiable. If you're curious about just how slippery, Tom Mueller's "Extra Virginity" offers a smart, well-written crash course.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393070212, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2011: E.V.O.O. just got a whole lot more complicated. Tom Mueller's Extra Virginity is about as explosive as an expose can get, at least if your subject is liquid fat. The road from tree to table, it turns out, is fraught with corruption, fraud, and laboratory interventions. Mueller shows how and why the trade in adulterated olive oil is about as profitable as the trade in some hard drugs, and with a lot less risk, too. There are equally entertaining detours into olive oil's long history, the politics of regulation and enforcement, and even debates over the best way to taste it (swirl, aerate, spit, or just swig?). All in all, it's a great read not just for foodies, but also for anyone interested in the complexities of global trade and organized crime. --Darryl Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:14 -0400)

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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, the author 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. It is also an account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name "extra-virgin."… (more)

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