California Olive Ranch, based in Chico, Calif., is the largest producer of extra virgin olive oil in the U.S., and can be found at Whole Foods WFM, +1.12% , among other stores.
Not everyone knows that what they’re consuming may not be of the highest quality. Homegrown and imported olive oil is graded: the top of the scale is extra virgin olive oil, which is the oil in its more natural state after being pressed by the olive, followed by virgin olive oil, which has “reasonably good flavor and odor,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than half (55%) of consumers said they understand olive oil grades, according to a University of California, Davis Olive Center study in 2013, and yet no more than 25% of respondents were able to correctly identify grades.
Extra virgin olive oil is also linked to some health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, cancer prevention and inflammation, according to a report from the University of Florida.
Check labels before buying olive oil, the California Olive Oil Council suggests, and keep in mind extra virgin olive oil is best used within 18 months from harvest so look for expiration as well as harvest or milling dates on the packaging. If the bottle is clear or exposed to light it can shorten the shelf life of the oil — it should also be tightly contained and kept away from heat. Oil approved by the council has its own seal, indicating it was grown in California and met certain requirements.
article sourceBad harvests in Europe and fake olive oil raise the question, are you getting the real deal?,