Taste the olive oil before purchasing. I had heard this, but it is not possible when you shop at a grocery store. Grocery stores want you to purchase their olive oil, take it home, decide if you like it, and keep the oil regardless of your opinion. Honestly, for a long time I wondered if there was any reason to taste olive oils as they had to taste the same. Right? My skepticism was heightened by the results of a study I had heard about. Turns out, when you may not be getting what the label states is in the bottle. A study by the University of California Davis Olive Oil Chemistry Laboratory and the Australian Oils Research Laboratory uncovered a greater than 50% chance the imported olive oil was not what the labels stated. The figure for California olive oil was just 10% (which I find to be 10% too high). (Full disclosure: There are some voluntary labeling standards from the USDA.)
What’s a girl to do? This girl was lucky enough to discover Olive Oil Etcetera in Doylestown, PA. Here you can taste the olive oil and balsamic vinegar offerings prior to making a purchase. I don’t compare much anymore. Upon my first tasting, I became a convert to Olio Nuovo, which is a first press California olive oil available only in the fall. Last year I missed my opportunity and had to make due with a small sample bottle. The balsamic choices have me turned up-side down. First, I was all about the Black Walnut balsamic, now it might be the Fig Balsamic vinegar.
I don’t know the source of origin for all the oils which are sold by Olive Oil Etceterabut they do carry California Olive oils which, for me, are the right purchase. California Olive oils are as ‘local’ a source for as I can get, have high rates of label integrity, and are sold by a local business owned by two of the nicest people I have met. Make a point to stop by their store and sample their offerings, pick up a gift or two, and meet wonderful people who care about the community.
Those bottles of olive oil at the grocery store? They are still waiting for me to purchase them and bring them home.
Lastly, and most importantly:
Currently, when you purchase a bottle of the fig balsamic vinegar a dollar is donated to help Judy the wife of the owner of Vine & Fig Bistro. She is facing the post-surgery battle that cancer brings to people. I don’t know how long this will last, but