Your Olive Oil is (probably) a Lie

Your Olive Oil is (probably) a Lie

How the Mafia Tricks you with Olive Oil
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Olive oil has been adored by people for millennia. It’s like the perfect food, it’s healthy and delicious. But there is also a darker side to it, a side that involves widespread corruption and Italian Mafia bosses.

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— Video Chapters —
0:00 The Olive Oil Heist
2:47 Ad Read
5:33 A Brief History
8:40 How to Make EVOO
9:45 MOST EVOO is a LIE
10:58 The Italian Mafia
13:48 The Science
15:45 The Problem
16:26 How to Find REAL Extra Virgin Olive Oil
17:18 Conclusion
19:26 Announcements & Outro

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Johnny Harris is an Emmy-winning independent journalist and contributor to the New York Times. Based in Washington, DC, Harris reports on interesting trends and stories domestically and around the globe, publishing to his audience of over 3.5 million on Youtube. Harris produced and hosted the twice Emmy-nominated series Borders for Vox Media. His visual style blends motion graphics with cinematic videography to create content that explains complex issues in relatable ways.

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41 Responses

  1. Johnny Harris says:

    The music for this video, created by our in house composer Tom Fox, is available on our music channel, The Music Room! Follow the link to hear this soundtrack and many more:

    • skeleton says:

      Love the sound

    • loveth says:

      woah 5 likes

    • Arall Skiant says:

      olive oil is not that healthy because it is just fat (9kcal per grams) deprived of nutrients (all of the nutrient is in the pulp of the olive) its fat is not unhealthy as it is mufa (still 14% sfa though) but also do not contain omega3 (unlike canola or even soy oil).

    • 一Grey says:

      Wait until you see what real Balsamic Vinegar costs. 😂

    • 斎藤一 says:

      7:20 I really wanted you to put a footage from ‘もこみち’ who is a Japanese talent and is very famous for his love for olive oil.
      Even when you type ‘もこみち’ in YouTube, the first suggestion is ‘もこみち オリーブオイル’ the latter word means ‘olive oil’.

  2. Ibn Hattuta Travels says:

    For me, a Jordanian/Palestinian, we mostly take our own olives to special factories where they process it for us to olive oil… that’s why you’ll find many of us even traveling with our oil, it’s important to us, and you can never find that fine taste on a supermarket shelf… and now I know why 😅

  3. KKlawm says:

    As an Australian I’m very fortunate not to have to deal with any of these troubles. Australia produces its own olive oil which is held to a standard significantly higher one than European olive oil. So long as I avoid the garbage international brands and get Australian olive oil I am pretty much guaranteed %100 extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. It’s tested and graded by an independent government body at the farm, at the factory and upon retail shelves. Apparently we have some of the most rigorously tested olive oil in the world 😁

    • fbo8833 says:


    • Slogun says:

      Im in Adelaide SA..We can drive a half hour up the road into the Barossa and buy cold pressed olive oil direct from the producer..We are fortunate to have land permanently zoned for market gardens, orchards, olive groves and vineyards across the outskirts of the city..In comparison to a lot of cities in the world, it really is a privilege to have access to local fresh food daily..

    • Blobby says:

      Nice to know, lol, I live in Sydney

    • JJamahJamerson says:

      I just went on emotional roller coaster, first I worried about my olive oil, and then I started to try and find nearby producers, and now I know we have good standards so it’s probably fine. Depending on the price I might still buy locally.

    • electrosec says:

      Which brand you recommend? I buy Cobram is that any good?

  4. Antonios Magkoutas says:

    Hi everyone,

    I am a Greek olive oil producer myself. I’m not selling olive oil – and I mention this in advance for obvious reasons.

    First of all, something I was hoping to hear and I didn’t is that the olive oil you are buying in the USA and in general in any non-Mediterranean country is a second class olive oil. Depending on its oil acridity you define the quality of your oil. All people know and buy the extra virgin olive oil, which is a B class here in the Mediterranean counties. What we produce and eat/drink is the ‘so called’ Extra Extra Virgin olive oil. The acridity must be between 0 and 0.8. What you get is actually olive oil more than 0.8 acridity (0.8 to 2.0). You can’t even grasp the difference between an olive oil of 0.3 and 1.8. It’s almost like you’re getting something else. Another product.

    The reason why most producers don’t achieve these low numbers of acridity is mostly due to profit and/or lack of knowledge and manpower. It costs a lot to only collect (labour is expensive and quantity not enough) the olives that are still on the branches – it’s a very intensive job during the winter months where rain can ruin the quality of the olives as well as your equipment. Many producers decide not only to collect the ones already dropped in the ground, but there others (lazy ones) not even following the traditional way of collecting them and they just put some cloth on the ground waiting for all olives to fall naturally. This method increases acridity dramatically, therefore, the olive oil quality.

    And now you can understand the reason why you don’t get this quality of olive oil anywhere else. Producers would rather keep the good quality locally for their families or extensive families and close friends. Who ever gets to help in this very hard and intensive task, will be rewarded with the ‘so called’ golden liquid.

    At least now you know. When a little of an extra extra virgin olive oil costs here in Greece 10-12 euros, you can’t really expect to get it for 15 dollars and get the real deal.

  5. Bl4ckDrg0n says:

    I remember meeting once a chef of a restaurant in his kitchen. I saw a Tupperware on top of a table with oil and some olives inside and asked him what was he preparing. He proudly said “olive oil, of course!”, then showed me a big bottle of vegetal oil he took and refilled his Tupperware with more oil, where there were about 10 green olives swimming. Never went back to his restaurant.

  6. WithAmara says:

    As a Palestinian who grow in a family of generations of Olive Oil producers, seeing who people cheat Olive Oil hurts me on a personal level.
    My family has lots of Olive trees growing in north of Palestine, all our olives trees came from one olive tree that is 600 years old still living in our land.
    That 600 year old tree is from an Olive Tree called Tsuri. It was brought by the romans from a village in Lebanon called Tsur (Tyre).
    The Romans liked the taste and planted it alot in what is now North Palestine. My grandma used this olive oil to cure all illnesses when I was a child.
    The taste is Divine Fruity, and almost spicy, amazing taste, and I can tell you, I never tasted better Olive Oil. And we did drink shots of it growing up.
    My grandfather used to say: ” Drink olive oil and knock down walls” (It rhymes in Arabic)
    Can’t wait to see this years Olive Oil yield. We Cold press our olive oil…

  7. Hoenn117 says:

    The Costco’s Kirkland brand organic olive oil was one of the few brands that the UC Davis tests found to meet the “extra virgin” standards.

    • Joshua Cheng says:

      Yup! May that never change… especially if we can prevent too much climate change.

    • Jordan Bloomfield says:

      That’s good to know!

    • MagicGloves says:

      Kirkland products are what you need in your bunker

    • Old Timey Tools says:

      Sorry but no. I’m Spanish, grew up with the real deal, Costco is what we buy here in the US, but it’s no where near the real deal, it doesn’t smell like olive oil, it doesn’t taste like olive oil, it says it comes from 3 different countries in the label.. it’s Ok but it’s not olive oil 😊

    • Hoenn117 says:

      @Old Timey Tools Spain is notorious for being the “cheaper” Olive oil. The Kirkland olive oil is from Italy.

  8. Nick Chapsas says:

    As extra virgin myself, I’d like to thank you for covering this story

  9. NepturnalHarianne says:

    As an Italian right now, hearing our newscasters in a John Harris video was strange!

    That said, even in our supermarkets here getting the real stuff is very difficult, and going to the local producers is the best bet. It won’t be certified as Extra Virgin but it’s still very good. I noticed the difference straight away when I stopped having the supply of olive oil that my (now gone) grandfather used to make.

    Pro tip: if it looks dark green, that’s oil with colour added

    • Andrea Roco says:

      As another Italian I can confirm that it’s weird to hear our news on a US video 😂

      Also it feels good to hear somebody talking about mafia and the damage it does to our country (and not only ours, as it seems)

    • Erzsébet Kovács says:

      I used to buy own brand olive oil produced by the Italian branch of a European supermarket chain. Do you think that was legit? Or fake?

  10. G C says:

    I’m Italian, and a big part of my family from Puglia is envolved in production and selling (2 very distinct aspect) of Olio extra vergine di oliva.
    During my entire childhood, adolescence and also now, I’ve always had the chance and honor to compare many flavors, recognize them and sort them out from the good stuff and the industrial ones (olive oil, tomatoes, vegetables in general, fruits, meat..) and the single most mind-blowing fact is that, everyone in my family that was used to consume these top notch products, the first time we tried industrial ones, we felt sick for days. Food can heal, do your best to not make shitty companies richer with your money and on your health.

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