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Buying olive oil is confusing. Or is it?

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

We started producing olive oil in 2014. We had thirty olive trees, some farming experience and owned over ten acres around our house in the mountains adjacent to San Miguel Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico.

We knew nothing about the olive tree and even less about olive oil. We began to read a lot about both topics. Seven years later, Susan is an Olive Oil Sommelier certified by at the International Culinary Center in New York City. We now have over 1800 trees and we are still learning.

We are passionate about olive oil and we love spreading the word on its benefits.

One of my main concerns about the understanding of olive oil is the language used to describe it.

To prove the point, I am about to make, I googled “benefits of olive oil”. This is the first answer.

11 Proven Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive Oil Is Rich in Healthy Monounsaturated Fats. ...

Olive Oil Contains Large Amounts of Antioxidants. ...

Olive Oil Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory Properties. ...

Olive Oil May Help Prevent Strokes. ...

Olive Oil Is Protective Against Heart Disease. ...

Olive Oil Is Not Associated with Weight Gain and Obesity.

After reading this, my first reaction is to scream out loud.


In the information I googled I found that the words “olive oil” and “extra virgin olive oil” are often used interchangeably. In doing so, we assume they are the same product. And when a person goes to the store, they are preconditioned to buy any product that says “olive oil”. If you are price conscious you may be prone to buy the cheaper product when staring at the very confusing display at the supermarket. The reality is that Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) are not the same and have very different properties. You will also note that if it says “extra virgin” it will cost more!

During my presentations at the farm, I make a simple comparison. You can go to the store and bring home a dozen oranges and make orange juice. You can also buy bottled orange juice. These are two very different products and so are olive oil and extra virgin olive oil two very different products.

Olive Oil is made from refined oil obtained from olives that are not in the best condition (e.g., rotten, muddy, wormy, etc.). The refined oil is flavored with extra virgin or virgin olive oil. It cannot have the word extra virgin on its package. If the bottle just says olive oil, then it is based on refined oil and should Always be priced lower than EVOO.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil must meet various criteria. But it must start with quality olives from which the pure juice is extracted under certain conditions and by mechanical means ( solvents or chemicals). Nothing is added!

Going back to where I started. If you see a list as the one above “11 benefits of olive oil” then immediately assume that they are talking about extra virgin olive oil. As a matter of fact, this is made clear on the linked post but closer to the end of the article. However, many people assume that if it just says olive oil then it must have all the benefits described.

You will find many internet articles expounding the benefits of other oils as well as extra virgin olive oil and even olive oil. When I read them, I like to find out about who is writing the article. There are some articles that list “the best extra virgin olive oils to buy”! In some I have found that the recommended brands also have a link which will take to you to Amazon to make it easier for you to buy. Let an old advertising professional tell you that you are being influenced to buy by the writer. I have also found that some of the authors do disclosed that they receive a percentage on the sales generated from the link. Hum! Is there a conflict here?

You can take some of the confusion out of buying by remembering some simple facts as you face a plethora of choices when shopping.

Olive oil, while having fewer health benefits than EVOO, is a good product to have in your pantry, particularly if you are frying. But do not pay a lot of money for it!

The full health benefits come from extra virgin olive oil. The bottle must say extra virgin.

While at the store pay attention to pricing. Olive oil should be substantially cheaper than EVOO (about 50% on average). Extra virgin olive oil will be pricy.

Do not be fooled by a label that says, “Extra Light” or as here in Mexico “Extra Suave” The only thing light about these oils is the content of the extra virgin olive oil (usually 1%). Read the label.

Research the brand of extra virgin olive oil you are buying, there are some bad actors in the industry.

If possible, buy direct from the producer or at least know the producer of your oil.

Free Book

Thank you for reading my blog.

Here is a link to a free book promo running from April 3 to April 5 on Amazon please click on “buy for free” please note the book does not deal with olive oil. It is an autobiographical fiction. The first book in a series about an ad executive’s first four years in a career that lasted fifty years.

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