Extra Virginity – Tom Mueller

Olive oil is the only indispensable part of my kitchen. I’ll give up everything, but I can never give up olive oil. Since I have been one of the summer residents of Ayvalık for years, this love of mine has grown more and more. As I learned about it, I became a huge fan of olive oil. Extra Virginity was one of the most enjoyable books I have read on the subject.


Extra Virginity
Photo by Emre Gencer on Unsplash

Extra Virginity is an exquisite book written by Tom Mueller, on olive oil, the most altered food in the world. While I was reading it, I got excited a lot, searched hundreds of articles, looked at the olive groves for sale and dreamed thanks to this book. It also made me happy because I got a lot of beneficial information. Now I look at olive oil with completely different eyes.

Extra virginity or not?

How is olive oil, which has been used not only for food but also as a tool for healing diseases, religious rituals and beauty products, losing something of its value? How can it be sold at almost the same price as sunflower oil in the markets? While reading this book, I witnessed how this beautiful tree and its precious gold fruits, gifted to humankind, became worthless in human hands. There are dozens of oils on the market that are mixed with other invaluable oils and sold as “extra virgin” but far from “extra virgin” by leaps and bounds. Of course, there are also dozens of money to be earned by fraud.

Extra virgin, virgin, refined, early harvest, mature harvest, cold-pressed, hot-pressed… Olive oil is named differently according to its production and other factors. Of course, the most precious is the extra virgin one. This book explains how extra virgin olive oil should be. It also reveals how oils sold as extra virgin are actually altered oils and how some companies make money from it. The good thing is that it shares the brands.

His interviews with olive producers are really worth reading. Mueller, in a delightful language, tells about his impressions, the things he learned and olive groves he visited. This is a book that should be in every home; I recommend to everyone!

olive oil extra virginity
Photo by Emre Gencer on Unsplash

A few tips about extra virgin olive oil

  • The colour of olive oil is not an indicator of any quality. It depends on the type of olive.
  • Extra virgin olive oil smells nice, natural. You will never come across a synthetic fragrance.
  • Extra virgin olive oil burns one’s throat. In fact, the more it burns, the better. (There should be tears and coughing!)
  • Olive oil loses its good properties as long as it waits. Check the harvest times for the products you buy.
  • When in the fridge, it freezes.
  • The lower the acidity, the better. It should be 0.8% maximum. But if you can, go for oils with lower acidity.
  • Finally, extra virgin olive oil is not cheap. Period.
Extra Virginity Tom Mueller

Extra Virginity

The sacred history and profane present of a substance long seen as the essence of health and civilization.
For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life’s necessities-not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious ritual. Today’s researchers are continuing to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra-virgin, and “extra-virgin Italian” has become the highest standard of quality.

But what if this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt? Starting with an explosive article in The New Yorker, Tom Mueller has become the world’s expert on olive oil and olive oil fraud-a story of globalization, deception, and crime in the food industry from ancient times to the present, and a powerful indictment of today’s lax protections against fake and even toxic food products in the United States. A rich and deliciously readable narrative, Extra Virginity is also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name “extra-virgin.”


Tom Mueller

Tom Mueller‘s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic. He is the author of the New York Times-bestselling Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

A Non-fiction a Month

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