April 2nd, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
Olive oil’s already known for its heart health benefits, and now new research finds several more reasons for making it part of a healthy diet. Two recently released separate studies link olive oil consumption to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and the ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Read More:Decreased Alzheimer’s Risk and Healthy Weight Linked to Olive Oil Consumption
March 25th, 2011 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
At this year’s Boston Seafood Show, which opened on March 20th, worldwide organic farming advocate Naturland is urging the fishing industry to consider more eco-friendly fishing techniques.
Hans Hohenester, chairman of the Naturland board of directors, says current fishing practices are unnatural, unsustainable, and contaminate waters with harmful chemicals and antibiotics.
That’s why Naturland has impressive standards and strict procedures for ensuring organic and sustainable production.
Read More:Naturland Promoting Eco Fishing & Aquaculture
August 9th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
After reading the UC Davis report on mislabeled extra-virgin olive oil, angry California chefs have filed a class-action lawsuit against companies whose products failed the “virginity test.”
At press time, 10 major producers and distributors have been named in the suit:
- Filippo Berio
- Rachael Ray
- Safeway Select
Several of these companies sell organic varieties.
Other defendants include markets that have sold these brands “without testing and verifying” oil quality: Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, Vons/Pavilions, Ralphs, Stater Bros., Albertson’s, Target, Walmart, Kmart and Nob Hill Foods.
“This is an egregious fleecing of the California consumer,” says lead counsel Daniel J. Callahan. “These companies placed corporate profiteering over their integrity and the integrity of their product.”
Callahan believes these companies “have been knowingly misleading and defrauding California consumers for years.
“Defendants have been claiming the olive oil they sell meets the high standard of the extra-virgin classification,” he says, noting that chefs’ menu prices have reflected use of the real deal.
Some chefs and consumers have reportedly said over the years that their extra-virgin olive oils simply don’t taste right—and “it has now become clear that these tales were based in fact,” Callahan says.
Olive oil is a kitchen staple for most organic home cooks, especially those who follow a Mediterranean diet. It’s a monounsaturated fat that should replace unhealthful saturated fats.
Read More:Chefs File Lawsuit Against Top Olive Oil Producers, Retailers
August 7th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Almost 70% of imported and 10% of California-produced extra-virgin olive oils sold at the state’s supermarkets and big-box retailers were mislabeled and may have confused consumers, according to a report from the Olive Oil Chemistry Laboratory at the University of California, Davis.
These findings prompted the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) to petition the U.S. Department of Agriculture to revise oils’ grade standards.
The USDA has granted the petition and is in the process of altering the standards so they’ll conform to those commonly accepted by the U.S. and international olive oil industry. Definitions for the various grades—including extra-virgin, virgin, refined and olive pomace oil—will be amended. The USDA expects these revisions to affect olive oil importers, as well as 500+ domestic producers and growers.
“The COOC was founded to promote quality extra-virgin olive oil grown in California, and we welcome the opportunity to help fund and support any research that exposes defective or adulterated oils wherever they exist—even in our own backyard,” says Albert Katz, cofounder of Katz and Company, a Napa Valley-based producer of organic oils.
Tips from Linda Sikorski, head buyer for Market Hall Foods in Oakland
- Check the label. Does it say “extra-virgin” olive oil? Is there a harvest or milling date, in addition to the best-use date? Is the harvest date within 12 months? Extra-virgin oil is “best used” within 18 months. Make sure the oil is purchased well in advance of the best-used date.
- What about the bottle? Is the bottle’s color dark, which reduces light exposure? Is it on the top shelf, exposed to direct light? Light dramatically shortens shelf life, so look for signs that indicate the bottle has been on the shelf too long (for example, dust).
- Look for the COOC seal, which assures the olive oil is extra-virgin, grown in California and from the most recent harvest.
- Know your retailer. Buy from retailers who know their producers, growers and importers. Ask for a taste. Many specialty retailers are generous with sampling, as they want you to know what you’re buying.
- Verify when buying online. Check for the harvest date, and always buy from the most recent harvest. Ask before you complete your purchase.
Photo: The World Through Athene’s Eyes
Read More:Is Your Olive Oil Fake?
July 18th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Craving a Poached Pear Salad (Insalata di Pere), featuring mixed greens, blue cheese, candied walnuts, Chianti-poached pears and balsamic dressing?
You can follow it up with an entrée of Butternut Squash Ravioli (Tortellacci di Zucca), composed of fresh butternut squash and ricotta ravioli, a brown butter-sage cream sauce, freshly ground black pepper and shaved Parmigiano cheese.
How about ending your meal with a pistachio-encrusted Homemade Italian Cannoli, filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips, and dusted with powdered sugar?
If you’re in Los Angeles, you’re in luck. These are some of my favorite picks at Firenze Osteria, where Top Chef Season 5 contestant Fabio Viviani (above) serves as executive chef/owner. He also runs Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar in nearby Moorpark, where you can enjoy one of 18 “signature,” “luxury” and “dessert” martinis, including Pear Tinis, Blueberry Martinis, Key Lime Pie Martinis and Cosmopolitans. (The Poached Pear Salad, Butternut Squash Ravioli and Homemade Italian Cannoli are also on the menu.)
Viviani, who trained in his native Italy, recently coauthored the Café Firenze Cookbook, and even a cursory look through its pages will prove the man loves his olive oil. Chalk it up to the kitchen staple’s versatility, flavor and health benefits. Rich in polyphenols (antioxidants) that help fight against cancer, heart-healthy olive oil can be swapped for high-fat butter. Just substitute 3/4 teaspoon olive oil for every 1 teaspoon butter, which will cut the fat in recipes by 25%.
Here are some of Viviani’s favorite ways to use olive oil:
- Serve a simple appetizer of fresh bread with extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the oil into a shallow bowl for dipping, and season with cracked pepper or fresh herbs.
- Create a simple, yet flavorful, marinade of olive oil combined with either lemon juice or wine vinegar. Use it to flavor meats, poultry and fish.
- Give your favorite unsalted nuts a fine coating of extra-light olive oil. (You can toss them in a paper bag.) Add a sprinkle of salt.
Tune in tomorrow for one of Viviani’s special recipes: Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad.
Viviani photo courtesy of Bertolli
Read More:‘Top Chef’ Contestant Fabio Viviani Loves His Olive Oils
June 8th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Truffles, often referred to as the “ultimate mushroom,” are known for their earthy flavor and wallet-denting price (up to $4,000 per pound).
Organic truffle oil is a less expensive option, with different varieties available online and at well-stocked natural and organic food stores.
But read labels carefully. As Chef Daniel Patterson of San Francisco’s Coi Restaurant reports in the New York Times, some truffle oils lack even a hint of real truffle.
“Most commercial truffle oils are concocted by mixing olive oil with one or more compounds like 2,4-dithiapentane (the most prominent of the hundreds of aromatic molecules that make the flavor of white truffles so exciting) that have been created in a laboratory,” he writes.
The Food Network’s Pick
The Food Network purchases USDA Certified organic truffle oil from da Rosario, a New York City-based company that sells organic truffle products to the U.S. market.
Owned by Rosario Safina, author of Truffles: Ultimate Luxury, Everyday Pleasures, da Rosario sources truffles from a small plot on an organic farm in Italy’s Umbrian Valley. Products include USDA Certified 100% organic:
- Truffle-flavored olive oils (white and black truffle)
- Savory truffle seasonings (white and black truffle)
- Acacia honey with white truffles
- Truffle butters (white and black truffle)
“If the label says USDA 100% Certified Organic, you can bet there are real, organic truffle pieces inside,” Safina recently explained in The Daily Beast.
Celebrity chefs regularly use real truffle butter and/or oil in their favorite recipes. Check out:
- Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter
- Iron Chef Bobby Flay’s Parmesan-Crusted Portobello Mushrooms with White Truffle Oil
- Prolific restaurateur Emeril Lagasse’s rich Root Vegetable Soup with Truffle Oil
- Asian culinary superstar Ming Tsai’s Wild Mushroom and Pumpkin Risotto
Here in Los Angeles, hip restaurant La Cachette Bistro serves a Belgian Endives Salad with Organic California Walnuts, California Blue Cheese and Truffle Oil Dressing. Trendy Ketchup—known for its French fries tossed with Parmesan cheese and white truffle oil—has introduced a Summer Truffle Sausage Risotto.
For additional recipes, look no further than OrganicAuthority Publisher Laura Klein’s favorite truffle oil dishes.
Read More:Organic Truffle Oil: A Savory Splurge
September 24th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
For me, autumn-proofing my skin focuses on the driest parts of my body: feet, elbows and knees.
There’s no need to buy fancy and expensive products to treat these areas, according to Sarah Callard, author of The Little Green Book of Beauty: 250 Tips for an Eco Lifestyle.
“For dry skin, use olive oil, organic if possible,” she writes. “It has excellent moisturizing properties and has been traditionally used as an intensive conditioning and moisturizing treatment for areas prone to dry skin.”
Callard recommends applying it at bedtime so you can wake up with smoother skin.
Also by Sarah Callard
Read More:Fight Dry Skin with Organic Olive Oil