“Like an Extra Virgin” – Ariana Brown

One thing I appreciated about this reading was the fact that it explained how olive oil became such a popular ingredient in modern culture. Growing up watching the food network with my mom, I remember all of the chefs ranting and raving about olive oil. Rachel Ray made “EVOO” a household term. She loved using olive oil and she probably didn’t go one episode without mentioning it. I found myself referring to olive oil as “EVOO” after watching her show for years and years.

One of the reasons that olive oil became so popular is because it was reported that “the Mediterranean Diet” is extremely beneficial to human health. Anne Meneley refers to it as “a gift of science”. This “gift” aids in the prevention of heart disease, breast and colon cancer, as well as type II diabetes. Olive oil is viewed as one of the “better” fats consumed by humans. As a result of the Mediterranean diet becoming popular, olive oil consumption in the US went from 64 million pounds in 1982 to 250 pounds in 1994. This clearly shows that a trend had indeed started.

Another thing I found interesting about this reading was the discussion of olive oil and its purity. It was referred to as “liquid gold”, in the same way that breast milk is, which is huge. Some people call olive oil “liquid gold” because it comes directly from olives, much like breast milk comes directly from the mother (the source). It doesn’t have to go through an extraction process from seeds (such as sunflowers and soybeans). One pushback on this idea was the fact that Rachel Laudan (a food historian) points out that many foods are indigestible and borderline poisonous in their “natural” state. To me, this means that natural doesn’t always mean good. I’ve taken a foods class at OU before and I learned this same concept in that class. Just because a food comes directly from nature does not inherently mean that it’s better than other foods. Like Laudan said, I learned about several grains and other foods that would kill you in their natural state. A similar idea was proposed when discussing the way in which olive oil is produced and how it has been unchanging. Yet, there was also push back on that idea, stating that there actually has been considerable transformations in olive oil technology. One question that came to my mind while reading this is why people still believe that olive oil is so natural and unchanging if it has been proven that that isn’t necessarily the case?

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