7 Easy & Effective Beauty Uses for Extra Virgin Olive Oil

By JILL SEIMAN | March 26th, 2013 at 11:40 pm


While most people think of olive oil as healthy to eat or cook with, its high concentration of mono-unsaturated fats, anti-inflammatory agents, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins make it a natural beauty remedy as well.

I recently received Celebrity Chef Cat Cora’s Kitchen by Gaea all-natural Extra Virgin Olive Oil and put the following inexpensive beauty uses to the test:

1. Moisturizer: Slathering on olive oil feels more concentrated than a lotion and it doesn’t absorb as quickly but if you have a little extra time, EVOO penetrates deeply to regenerate cells and soften the tissue. It contains the same healthy fats as avocado, which can plump lips and moisturize the skin with its combination of vitamin E and vitamin A. Apply daily to notoriously dry areas, such as feet and elbows, especially after showering. It’s also known to lessen the appearance of acne scars. If you’re a fragrance junkie, you can easily add scent with a few drops of essential oil.

2. Shaving Lubricant: Olive oil is an inexpensive and effective lubricant to shave facial and other body hair. The shave is a little more sticky and there’s less glide but clean up is easy and EVOO leaves the skin soft and dewy. Rub in an extra teaspoon after washing.

3. Body Scrub: Apply olive oil to skin then scrub with sugar or coarse salt, and rinse. Or, mix one part EVOO, one part sea salt, and a couple drops of essential oil (lavender recommended). Mix to create an old world paste that smells good, feels good, and costs pennies per application.

4. Ear Wax Softener: You can use olive oil alone or with water irrigation to remove wax from your ears. The AAFP recommends three drops of olive oil in the affected ear each day for three to four days. Place room-temperature drops of olive oil in the ears with an eye dropper in the evening right before going to bed; lying in bed on your side allows the oil to penetrate the wax more deeply. Use a bulb syringe to spray warm water gently into the ear on the day following the last treatment to encourage the lubricated wax to fall from the ear, if necessary.

5. Hair & Scalp Masque: If the change of season is causing dry hair or scalp, transfer some EVOO into a plastic bottle and place it in a bowl of hot water. Massage a generous amount of heated oil into scalp and hair and wrap hair in a heated towel or sit under a dryer for 10-15 minutes. Rinse hair thoroughly with a mild shampoo. I’ve spent a fortune on this treatment at spas!

6. Cuticle Softener: Rub a bit of EVOO into the cuticles to moisturize and prevent snags, or mix oil with water to soak hands before a DIY mani.

7. Makeup Remover: A few drops of extra virgin olive oil on a cotton ball or pad go a long way to remove makeup and impurities. Wipe face in a circular motion. Take extra precaution around the eye: place the cotton pad against your closed eye for 10 seconds and gently wipe.

With these 7 DIY treatments, you know exactly what ingredients you’re putting on your skin not to mention the potential cost savings of forgoing more expensive lotions, gels, scrubs, and masques!

What do you think? Will you be adding olive oil to your makeup bag?

Jill Seiman is the author of Glamamom, a personal lifestyle blog chronicling her adventures as a New York City mom. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.


BOOK REVIEW: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil



CHANCES are that if you have a litre bottle of “extra virgin olive oil” on your shelf with “Made in Italy” stamped on it somewhere, purchased for less than the price of 500 ml of the local stuff, not only is it probably not all olive oil but it is unlikely to be extra virgin olive oil.


Extra Virginity

  • TITLE: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
  • AUTHOR: Tom Mueller
  • PUBLISHER: Atlantic Books

This book, written to international acclaim, has opened a big can of worms in the olive oil market, mostly among consumers, for the huge global olive oil industry already knows about its scandals. With lines such as “he estimates that about 98% of all (European Union) olive oils are adulterated”, some of it makes for sickening reading, literally: in Spain in 1981, the “toxic oil syndrome” left more than “20,000 people … poisoned by fake olive oil made from rapeseed oil denatured with aniline, a toxic organic compound”. About 800 people died.

Even the Roman traders were exasperated by olive oil being manipulated and adulterated, so they created customised amphorae with inscriptions indicating where the oil was produced, its quality at shipment and the “imperial functionary who received it in Rome”. But the scandalous trade of a sublime product — olive oil’s use as a sacred unguent predates even the Romans — continued. In fact, seed oils or manipulated olive oils masquerading as extra virgin were among the foodstuffs that prompted the creation of the US Food and Drug Administration, which stopped testing extra virgin olive oil in the late 1990s, “having failed to halt oil adulteration” despite testing since the 1930s.

Stories of tanker loads of cheap seed and nut oils from North Africa and the Mediterranean being cut with just enough extra virgin olive oil to get it past the regulators — some them sit on the boards of the biggest olive oil traders — abound.

This book is also a guide to what to look for in an extra virgin olive oil: total fatty acids less than 0.8% and peroxides (which occur naturally) less than 20 — though many regard these parameters as too accommodating and prefer the figures to read 0.5% and 12. Extra virgin olive oil is extracted mechanically; no chemical use is allowed. And a quick taste test should have it burn the back of your throat with a peppery sharpness — if it goes down real smooth, chances are it is not extra virgin.

I am delighted to see our leading supermarkets selling clearly labelled “light olive oil” or “refined olive oil”; these are olive oils that have been “refined” with chemicals and are great for cooking, but nothing else.

As well as being an excellent read, with an evocative history of olive oil and its veneration that seamlessly segues into modern scandals and their outcomes, this book should also be good for SA’s producers.

World production of olive oil 2012/2013



Data released last month by the COI (International Olive Council) do provide an average fall of world production of olive oil by 20%, decrease also affecting Spain as world’s largest producer and would, according to the agency, to produce 820,000 tonnes, almost half the previous campaign.

Italy has a good crop to total 490,000 tons, 350,000 tons is expected that Greece, Portugal nearly 69,000 tons, 5,600 tons on Cyprus, France 4,300 tonnes and 700 tonnes Slovenia.

A global analysis of the data provided by the COI to the conclusion that Spain, despite the expected increase in production in Italy and Greece, holds about 49% of world production and still has stockpiles that would force an increase in competitiveness and trading.

The emergence of new niche markets, especially in Latin America, Brazil and Mexico and, to a lesser extent, other small consumers like Colombia or Peru who see their economies grow, are an important incentive for increased consumption.

Besides these, the U.S. or France remain large markets to watching future major exporters such as Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey and Portugal, which now bind smaller ones like Argentina, Chile or Uruguay.

Choosing A Handmade Soap Maker


, ,

Handmade soap must go through the process of saponification in order to be true handmade soap. There are newer hot process methods but these are not the methods that the finest old world soap makers use.

If you were to visit the finest castile soap makers in Europe you will find they are using a method called cold press soap making. This timeless method that uses lye as the saponification agent makes the finest soap available today.

You don’t have to believe me, just google French, Greek or Italian soap and read how they make their soap. Most are extremely proud of this old world tradition that they have kept alive all of these years.

If a melt and pour soap maker tries to scare you by saying “our soap contains no lye”, run for the hills. This is a typical disingenuous tactic that is commonly used by inferior soap crafters. Remember, NO LYE NO SOAP!


Now with this info you need to know the other ingredients in the soap and their properties. Some very good soaps have more moisturizing properties and others have stronger cleansing properties. This has to do with amount and combination of oils in each soap. Lathering oils are coconut, castor, babassu oils and lard.

The more moisturizing oils are almond, apricot kernel, canola, corn, olive, rice bran, and shea butter. Some oils have a great combination of both attributes. Experiment with different handmade soap bars and find out which combination works best for your skin.

We have found that any soap that has just one oil is usually deficient in one or more of the qualities that makes for a great soap. As you get familiar with the different oils used in soap making, you will find the perfect combination that fits your skin profile.

No Greek olive oil in German supermarkets


Greek olive oil


Although of the highest quality, Greek olive oil is difficult to find in German supermarkets. But Italian oil, which is often mixed with Greek, is plentiful. So why can’t Greece market its produce better?

With about 70 percent of overall consumption, Italian olive oil has an unquestioned supremacy on the German market. Spanish and Greek olive oil account for just 10 percent each. But according to Johannes Eisenbach, coordinator of a network of approximately 1,000 small and medium-sized organic farms in Greece and Cyprus, this number belies the quality of Greek olive oil.

Johannes Eisenbach at a meeting of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Lesbos, Greece
Eisenbach believes Greece can enter the German market

He told a meeting of the German Hanns Seidel Foundation on the Greek island of Lesbos that Italian oil needs to be mixed with Greek to produce the kind of quality and taste which German supermarkets require. The blend is a bargain for Italian traders, who can purchase the Greek oil at just 1.70 euros ($2.15) per liter before selling it at a much higher rate.

But, Eisenbach said, the arrangement is not that great for Greek farmers, and he had a suggestion as to how to improve the situation: “Greek producers and cooperatives would not be allowed to sell to Italian purchasers for a period of four years. That way, Greece might be able to market for itself the 20 percent of Greek oil which is currently in Italian oil.”

Eisenbach readily admitted such a proposal is radical. More realistic, he said, would be a much more difficult road – with Greek producers gaining their own access to the German market. Here they could learn from Italian distribution companies that have built up a relationship of trust with German supermarket chains after decades of guaranteed delivery, fixed prices and agreed quality.

Olive oilMost olive oil in Germany comes from Italy

Need for change

Greek olive oil is working with an economic handicap. In Greece, olive trees are typically grown on steep slopes, so that fast and efficient machines can’t be used for harvesting. On top of that, the greater distance between Greece and Germany means transport also costs more.

And there’s another problem. As Konstantin Protoulis, owner of a olive oil bottling company on Lesbos, “In the last 30 years, the producers have settled down to making their living from state and EU subsidies.” That has to change, said Protoulis. “The olive oil producers have to go back out into the olive groves and cultivate them under the guidance of agricultural experts.”

With such guidance, the quality of Greek oil could be increased even further. Protoulis said that he’s signed contracts with hundreds of growers who have committed themselves to attending seminars and working to meet specific production and quality standards and to not use pesticides. He’s already managed to enter the German market together with his German distributor Bastian Jordan.

Opportunities in the German market

The Jordan family has been producing olive oil in Greece for over 20 years, and they sell it to gourmet restaurants. They haven’t yet tried to sell it to supermarkets. One reason is that they don’t produce enough – but they would have a chance if many producers in Greece banded together and guaranteed delivery along with set quality quantity standards.

Bastian Jordan at a meeting of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Lesbos, GreeceJordan’s family has been producing olive oil for more than 20 years

What’s also important, Jordan believes, is the attitude one adopts towards the consumer. Part of that attitude, he said, is honesty.

“We don’t just sell extra virgin olive oil, which is the very top quality,” he said. “We also sell virgin oil, which is also quite reasonable. But the important thing is we sell it as virgin oil.”

Almost all the oil sold in German markets is sold as extra virgin, he says, although much of it is really virgin oil: “This is a fraud, which can be put right by honesty.”

But that means the public has to be educated so that it can follow the route of the olive from producer to consumer, and that needs time. Distribution and logistics have to be built up, and marketing has to be transparent.

Jordan is convinced that, if the Greeks take this difficult and demanding route, they have a good chance of success. After all, the average German consumes just 0.85 liters (3.6 cups) of olive oil per year – meaning there’s plenty of room for growth.

Olive Trees Face ‘Death by Saw’ in Greece



Print Friendly

By Costas Vasilopoulos

Olive Trees Face ‘Death by Saw’ in Greece | Olive Oil Times


For many years, petroleum has been the only source of heating houses and apartments in Greece, and only lately natural gas has become an option for big city dwellers. All the rest still depend on petroleum to keep their homes warm during the winter, especially at the northern regions of the country where the weather conditions are harsh.

But with petroleum prices skyrocketing to €1.40 per liter and given today’s scarce financial resources, people are forced to turn to other forgotten means of heating such as fireplaces and stoves. So, there is an unprecedented demand for firewood and even the government has intervened to prevent wet wood from being sold as dry. Trees on the mountains are being illegally cut down in hundreds to produce firewood for distressed citizens.

And lately there have been many incidents where olive groves were invaded during the night and the olive trees were sawed and vanished. There have been reports from Crete, Korinthia, Messinia and Euboea of farmers who were astounded to discover that their precious groves were destroyed. The damage for the olive oil industry as a whole is minimal, but the damage for the single farmer and family is huge, since they rely heavily on the olive oil they make to secure the year’s supply and even get an extra – and evermore important – income from selling some.

Among the many woes the crisis carries lies another no one could predict, and the perish of economic resources affects many aspects of our day-to-day lives as never before.

Suspected Fraud Hits Major Israeli Supermarkets



By Charlie Higgins
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Buenos Aires

Suspected Fraud Hits Major Israeli Supermarkets | Olive Oil Times


Rami Levy owns one of the supermarket chains where the suspected fraudulent products were being sold.

Israeli supermarket chains Rami Levy and Home Center have removed thousands of olive oil products from their shelves following a series of factory raids. Investigators suspect that industrial “lampante” grade oil, unfit for human consumption, was being sold as olive oil.


Suspicions were first raised several weeks ago, when the Israeli Agriculture Ministry received tips from various sources indicating fraudulent activities at two factories in northern Israel, according to Haaretz. The exceptionally low cost of the oils — NIS 19.99 ($5.15) for a 750-milliliter bottle of olive oil compared to the normal range of NIS 35 ($9.02) to NIS 50 ($12.88) — also raised suspicion.

The Agriculture Ministry’s Flora and Fauna Supervision Unit, in coordination with the Health Ministry, conducted the raids, which led to the confiscation of 25 tons of oil. The factories, the Health Ministry said, were licensed to filter olive oil but not to refine it, and the owner of the two locations had already been disqualified from selling olive oil due to previous violations.

“Since the oil was imported into Israel as unfit for human consumption, it did not undergo any inspection by the Health Ministry at the port. It underwent chemical processing, after which it was sold as edible,” investigators told sources.

The seized oil will be tested in government labs to determine whether or not it meets Israeli manufacturing standards. Confirmed violations of health standards would result in legal action.

The Israeli Customs Directorate was also notified for possible customs fraud. According to Israeli law, tariffs are not required to import oil used for lighting lamps as opposed to edible oils. Originating in Spain and Greece, the imported oils in question were processed in the factories in Israel and sold under four or five brand names.

The Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma chain was quick to respond to the recent allegations. Owner Rami Levy said they had received the necessary permits required to sell the oils, including a manufacturing permit from the Health Ministry, the seal of the Israel Olive Oil Board, the ISO 9001 standard and kashrut certification.

“In a conversation I had with the manufacturer, he claimed that the allegations were not accurate,” Levy told Haaretz. “The Health Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry did not contact me about the matter, but to be on the safe side, I am removing the products under discussion from the shelves until the matter has been resolved.”

Olive oil fraud discovered at two factories in northern Israel

Thanks to a tip received by the Agriculture Ministry, 25 tons of industrial-quality olive oil were found marked for sale as fit for human consumption.

By Ronny Linder-Ganz, Ora Coren and Adi Dovrat-Meseritz | Sep.30, 2012 | 4:51 AM
Israeli olive oil

Israeli olive oil Photo by Maya Kapelushnik
Ronny Linder-Ganz

Raids on two vegetable oil factories in the north of Israel over the past 10 days have turned up tons of industrial-quality oil – the type used to light oil lamps. The raids were conducted by the Agriculture Ministry’s Flora and Fauna Supervision Unit in coordination with the Health Ministry. “Since the oil was imported into Israel as unfit for human consumption, it did not undergo any inspection by the Health Ministry at the port,” sources close to the investigation said. “It underwent chemical processing, after which it was sold as edible.”

One of the raided locations was in the Kedmat Galil industrial zone, the other in the Tzahar industrial zone in Rosh Pina. “Both locations operate under various names but have one well-known owner,” the sources said. “Long ago, he was disqualified from selling olive oil in another location.” At one point, the owner evidently owned a factory in the Beit Shemesh area as well.

In addition, a great deal of customs fraud was allegedly committed, and the Customs Directorate was notified as part of the investigation.

The incident began several weeks ago when information about the fraud reached the Agriculture Ministry from various sources. “According to information received, the oil was imported from Spain and Greece,” said the sources. Following an unknown treatment process, it was labeled under four or five brand names as edible olive oil. Inspections by the Agriculture and Health Ministries found the oil for sale at the Rami Levy and Home Center supermarket chains.

Suspicion was also raised by the cost of the oil: NIS 19.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle of olive oil compared to the normal range of NIS 35 to NIS 50.

More than 25 tons of the oil were seized and are being held until laboratory tests determine whether they match Israeli standards of manufacturing. “The factory has no license to refine oil,” Health Ministry officials said. “It is licensed only to filter it.” If legal violations and violations to the health standard are found, the Health Ministry will begin legal proceedings and the products will be removed from the shelves, the sources say.

“In this case, there is also a suspicion of customs fraud because oil used for lighting lamps is imported without customs tariffs,” the sources added. The supermarket chains were quick to respond to the discoveries. “We received all the required permits from the manufacturer,” said Rami Levy, owner of the Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma supermarket chain. These include a manufacturing permit from the Health Ministry, approval for marking an agricultural product as organic, the seal of the Israel Olive Oil Board, the ISO 9001 standard, kashrut certification and more.

“In a conversation I had with the manufacturer, he claimed that the allegations were not accurate,” Levy said. “The Health Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry did not contact me about the matter, but to be on the safe side, I am removing the products under discussion from the shelves until the matter has been resolved.”

A spokesperson from Home Center said the chain also had the proper forms but would be removing the oil from its shelves as well.

Greek Olive Oil Woes Echo Country’s Broader Economic Challenges


, ,

A Greek farmer drives home with his fresh pressed olive oil in barrels near Alyki, Greece. The country's pure olive oil is hard to find, expensive and poorly marketed, businessmen say.

A Greek farmer drives home with his fresh pressed olive oil in barrels near Alyki, Greece. The country’s pure olive oil is hard to find, expensive and poorly marketed, businessmen say.

Greece is in the fifth year of a painful recession, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon. One big problem the country faces is a shortage of strong companies that know how to compete on the world market. And nowhere is this more painfully apparent than in the challenges faced by the country’s olive oil business.

In Greek mythology, the goddess Athena gave the olive tree to the Greeks to win their loyalty. And ever since, they’ve taken their olive oil very seriously. Greeks say their olive oil is the best in the world.

But how do you define Greek?

George Eliades is with Peza Union, a food cooperative that sells its own brand of olive oil. “Everybody knows Greek olive oil, and nobody buys it because you cannot find it anywhere. It’s very hard to find,” he says.

For example, the Altis brand is made from Greek olives, but the company isn’t Greek; it’s owned by the Dutch-British conglomerate Unilever. The same is true of Minerva, which is owned by a British multinational. Together these are the most popular olive oils sold in Greece — they control two-thirds of the consumer market. Although Greece is the third largest olive oil producer in the world, it has never developed any big companies of its own.

There are several reasons why Greek companies remain small, and they point to some fundamental problems in the Greek economy. Greek olive oil is more expensive. It tends to be grown on small family farms that still harvest olives by hand.

In Spain, Eliades says, olives are harvested by machine. “The machines that are producing 2 tons per hour, the Spanish, they are producing 10 tons per hour,” he says.

Eliades says Spain and Italy have another cost advantage over companies like his own. They import oil from cheaper producers like Tunisia and Algeria to blend with their own product. He doesn’t think Greece is ready to do that. “There is a taboo, that nobody would import olive oil because this is a crime,” he says.

But the problems go beyond cost.

George Kontouris, an Athens food broker, says unlike Italy or Spain, Greece has simply never learned the modern art of marketing itself to consumers. Its products are great, he says, but they have no cachet on the world market.

“Made in Greece, for all these years, and especially the last few years, is something that doesn’t help you at all,” Kontouris says.

The upshot is that Greece’s farmers grow a lot of olives, but not for olive oil. Some 60 percent of them get sold in bulk to other countries. Farmers earn some money doing that, but in the food business, the real profit comes from making and selling finished products.

A recent report from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company noted that Italian companies are in essence making a 50 percent premium on the price of the olive oil they sell, which they make — in part — using Greek olives.

“We are working just for the Italians. They take our product and they bottle it with other, cheaper bottles, and they make a very good product which is sold everywhere,” says George Eliades.

But if Greece is ever to solve its debt problems, its economy has to grow — and the best way to do that is to begin selling more to the outside world. Because Greece has a long tradition of making it, olive oil represents a big opportunity for the country. But before it can realize that opportunity, Greek companies will have to make some big changes in the way they do business.

Olive Oil, Milk, and Honey Have Highest Amount of Food Fraud

We already knew of cases where Italian olive oil was diluted with lesser  olive oils, and Chinese  truffles were being passed off as French. But it seems like the  products we all have to worry about are more basic: olive oil, milk, and honey.

New  research published in the  Journal of Food Science calculated the most common adulterated ingredients from 1980 to 2010, compiling 1,054 scholarly records.

Olive oil made up 16 percent of the total records, with 167 records. Milk,  honey, saffron, orange juice, and coffee followed behind.

“This database is a critical step in protecting consumers,” researcher John  Spink said. “Food fraud and economically motivated adulteration have not  received the warranted attention given the potential danger they present.”

In the past, food fraud cases have involved replacing Chinese star anise with  Japanese star anise (the latter which is toxic for humans), putting melamine in  protein foods, and finding lead in diluted spices. The study reports that 95  percent of food fraud cases involve “replacement” fraud.

Olive oil has been replaced partially by hazelnut oil, while honey is diluted  with high-fructose corn syrup or sugar syrup. Coffee grounds have been mixed  with roasted, ground corn, or even ground parchment, and saffron has been mixed  with gelatin threads or carnation stamens.

Researchers hope that future research and analysis can expose weaknesses in  quality control systems. The entire database is available for browsing on foodfraud.org.

Read more: http://www.thedailymeal.com/olive-oil-milk-and-honey-have-highest-amount-food-fraud#ixzz1t64g2vy6