Is Your Olive Oil Really Extra Virgin?

California has a rich tradition in olives and olive oil. In fact, the first olive trees were planted at the Mission in San Diego. But is the olive oil in your kitchen what you think it is?

Probably not.

Many of the olive oils sold in California do not meet basic standards for extra virgin oil, according to a study by UC Davis.

In fact, nearly 70 percent of imported olive oil did not meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin oil, according to the study. Ten percent of California manufactured oils also failed the test.

One of the biggest offenses is mixing the oil. Top quality olive oil can be expensive.

“If you cut it with a cheaper canola oil or hazelnut oil you can sell it for cheaper and you make better profits,” said Thom Curry from the Temecula Olive Oil Company. “The cheaper the olive oil, generally, the more chance you have of product that might not be 100 percent olive oil.”

Curry is one of the California growers trying to resurrect our olive oil industry.

Experts say you'll have a much better chance of getting quality extra virgin olive oil from local growers, than taking your chance from oils coming in from around the world.

“There's huge differences in quality, there's huge differences in flavor depending on variety, when you pick it, how you pick it, how you process it,” said Curry.

Curry hopes to see a renaissance in locally produced olive oil giving consumers the chance to actually see where their oil is coming from.

If you're looking for a good dipping oil, look to see where the olives were grown and when the oil was made. Not the expiration date -- but the pressing date.

Don't buy oil in clear bottles as light can age the oil and if the oil is too cheap, check to see if it is a blend with other oils or be a bit skeptical.

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