It Might be Time for American Olive Oil to Shine

olive-oil-968657_960_720.jpgOlive oil may be found in almost every American kitchen, but it’s long been the purview of the old world – an assumed-to-be-necessary import from Mediterranean farms that have been producing it for generations. Increasingly, however, California farms are taking a bigger stake of the market, with claims that they offer superior quality without the premium.

To some extent, this claim is supported by the research and recommendations of professionals. In Italy, a recent investigation by a special branch of the carabinieri police force found that many oils labeled “extra virgin” were in fact only “virgin” quality (the designation is based on the basic flavor profile and presence or absence of 16 potential “taste flaws). In November, Cooks Illustrated magazine released their recommendations for super market olive oils based on blind taste tests, and found that California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Extra Virgin was the tasters favorite, while most of the imported oils were tepidly reviewed.

The obvious comparison to be made here is with wine in the mid 1970s, when buyers and sommeliers began to realize that Napa Valley was actually producing high quality wines that rivaled those with an old-world pedigree. As olive oil demand grows, this could spell big trouble for the major European exporters, who already have more than $2 billion to lose in the U.S. market.

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