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Book cover  Extra Virginity is basically a reportage, exploring the world of olive oil from its influence in antiquity on health, religion, economy and culture to the huge counterfeiting industry making billions yearly by selling us unhealthy crap under the guise of olive oil. It seems Tom Mueller specializes in this kind of report-books, having done multiple investigations into different domains, like health or whistleblowers.

  I was afraid the book was going to be too dry, but it wasn't. The author makes many interesting connections with people all over the world, interviews them and writes their story in the book with competence. If I were to complain about something, it was that some things were repeated throughout the book. Perhaps limiting it to just the essentials and editing more of the fluff would have resulted in a more impactful book, but overall I liked it.

  I also think it's an important book to read to understand not only oil, but our entire food industry and the supply chains that feed it. The most disgusting thing in the book, for me, was when it described how Europeans and Americans are being trained to associate olive oil with the bland industrially deodorized mix of different cheap oils, so when we get to taste the real thing we are shocked by its taste and believe it is counterfeit.

  Personally I've had the opportunity to taste and use regularly real olive oil and I can tell you that, yes, there is a big difference. The book goes further to talk not only of the taste, but the many apparent health benefits of real olive oil, which makes the counterfeiting industry not only guilty of fraud and wrong when they declare that if you can't tell the difference, why should it matter, but also enemy of public health, even when they don't serve you contaminated or poisoned oil (which also happened).

  In short, read this. It says a lot about the world we live in. Not a happy book.


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