Put down that grocery store olive oil bottle! It’s not real!! For years, people have turned to olive oil in hopes of a healthy alternative to butter & canola oil as well as evoking some of the magic of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
In 2013, researchers at UC Davis conducted a study on 124 different samples from 8 major brands of olive oil. More than 70% of those olive oils failed as actually qualifying as real olive oil. Real olive oil is timely and expensive to produce, while fake olive oil is cheaper and faster to produce. You’ll find many of our grocery stores inventory of “olive oil” is actually a blend of real olive oil with lower grade oils such as canola, sunflower, or colza oil. So that healthy alternative olive oil you thought you were getting–was just some blend of canola oil.
Why can you get fake olive oil in the US? There are quite a few speculations, one being that the US is not part of the International Olive Oil Council maintaining the purified process of production of olive oil, another being the struggle of the labeling process on food in general.
We found out about the great facade of olive oil when we dropped into to Green Olive Company, we were as surprised as you to find out that olive oil we had been buying may not be what you think it is. (This also intensely revolted me).
Green Olive Origins
Green Olive stemmed from a love of cooking great meals that were healthy. Lisa McCormack, the owner of Green Olive and a registered dietitian, had her first child and began cooking all the time. She grew more and more passionate about great ingredients such as olive oil and found herself wanting to share these great ingredients with more people. And thus Green Olive was born.
Tucked at the end of the Short North as a stand alone building, sometimes it’s easy to glance over the imposing glass building across from Arch City Tavern. The Green Olive Company has stood at this location for almost 3 years now. Glancing through the windows it is chalk full of various green bottles, silver square pots and a friendly face looking through the window, that friendly face belongs to Rachel Dougherty today.
As all good stories begin, we got in touch with Rachel through Instagram. She had reached out to us with some questions about social media and from there a friendship began to form. Rachel comes from a culinary background, where the matriarchs of the family passed down their love of cooking. Her grandmother came from an Irish background and was constantly creating home-cooked meals. Rachel contemplated culinary school for a while, and took the plunge at Columbus Culinary Institute, where she found the education included business & culinary classes. Afterwards, she found a job cooking at the Brookside Country Club. Cooking every day began to take its toll, and as Rachel began looking for other opportunities, she stumbled upon Green Olive. Lisa was ecstatic to take her on board.
Rachel is passionate about her work, and manages the brand new Dublin Green Olive location and is Green Olive’s social media coordinator. When I asked her what you can make with olive oil or balsamic, she quickly rattled off an endless number of options to utilize the oils Green Olive has. Because Green Olive has so many types of oils (fused & infused) there are so many possibilities. She was also kind enough to make some examples of food where she used Green Olive products.
1. Drinks. How do you feel about putting balsamic in your drink (Green Olive also sells lots of specialized balsamic vinegars!)? I probs feel the same as you, BUT how do you feel about egg whites in your drink? Because martinis are pretty bomb with egg whites. ALSO have you had the strawberry balsamic martini at Marcella’s?? It’s sooo good.
2. Baking. You can bake meats and vegetables with olive oil. But you can also bake dessert! Instead of using butter (or the scarier Pam spray), you can use olive oil to bake. Rachel recommends the Blood Orange Olive Oil when baking, and it goes especially well with chocolate.
3. Cooking. Of course, you can cook meats & vegetables with olive oil, but you can also use some of their balsamic vinegars to create desserts! Rachel made some poached pears for us with dark chocolate balsamic vinegar–it was amazing! I ate Jeromy’s half too.
4. Marinating/Dressing. Olive oils and balsamic vinegars are always great for salads! Rachel showed us you can also roast beets with balsamic vinegar and have a healthy and fast meal!
Rachel stresses the benefits of cooking and acknowledges, “it’s too easy to eat bad, and go through a drive through. At the end of the day cooking is relaxing for me. I’m lucky.”
Rachel cites that what makes Green Olive appealing is the endless array of flavors that they offer so there are so many ways to incorporate such healthy ingredient into your cooking. “Cooking is an art, you can go wherever you like with it,” she says excitedly.
When asked where she sees herself in the future, she simply says here. “I’m excited about the growth of Green Olive, I feel like there is so much potential for us.” With the recent Dublin Green Olive opening, Rachel says she thinks there is an untapped market they haven’t even reached. “I love the freedom that I have here, our team works so well together.” Rachel is one of the Green Olive team coming from a culinary background and is able to utilize her knowledge to create the menus for Green Olive private events and parties. “Eating is a personable experience, and I want to share it with other people!” she smiles.
Green Olive has two locations, in the Short North and in Dublin.
Infused oils – botanical extract with herbs and flavors added to the oil
Fused oils – ingredients smashed with olives at the same time of production to create an “essence”
They offer wholesale options of their products, and their products have no colors or dyes. You can also rent out their space for private events (they serve wine at the Dublin location, Short North is in the works!).
At the end of the day, you should make sure that you are buying real olive oil. Here are some pointers Rachel gave us.
How to buy the real stuff:
– make sure the bottle says “extra virgin,” “olive oil” or “pure olive oil” are often made with lower grade oils. “extra virgin” means there is minimal processing in producing the oil
– the bottle should be dark, exposure to light will destroy olive oil’s flavor. So if the bottle is light or in plastic that should be red flag. Super small clear glass bottles are okay, as you will most likely go through the oil fast enough it will not affect the flavor.
– look for an estate name on the bottle, producers of authentic olive oil are proud of their production and usually put an estate or family name on the back of the bottle.
– look for a harvest by or best by date, olives shouldn’t last 5 years in a clear bottle like some of the ones can at the grocery store. If your oil says GOOD UNTIL 2020, you got some probs
– DON’T: regard oil color, look for “cold pressed” (this is a type of process not regulated by the FDA), look for “product of” (regardless of where a product country is, there can be other additives added in).