60 minutes recently aired an exposé on the Mafia’s control over food production in Italy, called “Agromafia.” It is scary. Chlorophyll and sunflower oil or canola oil mixed together to form olive oil; detergent added to cheese to whiten it; cheap wine touted as expensive reserve. Food is a big business, especially in Italy.
The show focused on Italy but the Italians aren’t the only culprits in the food industry. Remember the melamine from China in dog food that made so many pets sick? Food from China is often boycotted because we distrust their full disclosure of ingredients. I’ve been researching various food products around the world and each country has its pocket of villains trying to make an easy buck. God knows our country is not exempt and also has its share of fraudulent manufacturers.
It’s a world wide epidemic and why? Our need and want for more choices but at a low cost lures us into buying with our eyes closed. If you are paying $9.99 for a gallon of olive oil, do you really think you are getting the real deal? We convince ourselves that we are getting a bargain without questioning the source. As my high school English teacher, Mr. Bell, said repeatedly, TINSTAFL. There is no such thing as a free lunch!
There are many agencies that regulate food fraud including the FDA. Actually, my last shipment was randomly flagged and held over in customs for six weeks until an FDA agent could “test” my olives and make sure they were acidic enough. They passed the test with ease and I learned that some food companies pass through unnoticed with possibly tainted food while others, like mine, must endure the food safety process.
Beware of companies jumping on the bandwagon to sell trendy foods who do not do their research. My travels over Italy have led me to the true creators of authentic, family grown and unadulterated products. I care about what goes into my body and choose to support the independent businesses rather than the “box” brand names. I rely on them to deliver quality and they rely on me to buy their products. Food Fraud Resources is a great website and a tutorial for helping us to distinguish between authentic and fraudulent foods. There is an especially interesting article on fish that will surprise you and also make you swim away from certain seafoods. foodfraudresources.com
So let’s not live in fear of products from other countries, but rather be aware, read labels, and support the people who really want to make a difference in the world.
Here’s a video clip from the 60 Minutes episode:
Visit my site, thevirtuousolive to view a video from Galantino, the olive mill I receive my beautiful, pure oils from. You can see first hand how they produce their extra virgin olive oils.
Enjoy and drink your olive oil!!