Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil

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Overview

For millennia, fresh olive oil has been a necessity - for food, medicine, beauty, and religion. Today's researchers continue 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 from ...

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Through My Eyes

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Overview

For millennia, fresh olive oil has been a necessity - for food, medicine, beauty, and religion. Today's researchers continue 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 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. Extra Virginity is an inspiring account of the people who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name 'extra-virgin.'

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Italy resident Mueller, who wrote a piece on olive oil for the New Yorker, is well-situated to interpose olive oil against the Byzantine ways of its present-day production in this intriguing and sumptuously researched book. He begins in southern Puglia at a small, family-run olive oil business, then examines the vastness of Italian farming and olive production and the ongoing struggle for quality oil making. His history takes readers through Europe and eventually around to California and Australia. The book’s organizing conflict centers on current imbalances between trade quality and quantity, and the problematic roles of politics, government, and regulation. Mueller includes specialists in his book from a variety of disciplines, including archeology, classics, and epidemiology. Interspersed historical material follows the oil’s thread out of Mediterranean antiquity through subsequent civilizations and imperiums, into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Mechanization during the Industrial Revolution, Mueller points out in this engaging story, accelerated production and consumption, but now the industry is plagued by questionable developments that are fortunately offset by the growing artisanal trade. (Dec.)
Dwight Garner - New York Times
“Mueller reveals the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and teaches readers how to sniff out the good stuff.”
New York Times - Dwight Garner
“Mueller reveals the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and teaches readers how to sniff out the good stuff.”
Time Magazines Literary Supplement
“Tom Mueller is, in turn, chemist, explorer, scholar and bard, infusing the narrative with a sense of wonder.”
Bill Buford
“How long have readers been waiting for a book like this? A century? A millennium? Finally, the earth's most poetic food has found its storyteller. Essential, smart, and ridiculously overdue.”
From the Publisher
A Best History, Current Events, Contemporary Issues Audiobook of 2012. "[Narrator] Peter Ganim narrates with appropriate surprise, occasional outrage, and always energy and excitement. His excellent Italian and his deep base voice suit the text. His voicing of the many personalities Mueller interviews and even his reading of the glossary at the end are most entertaining...a must listen..." - SoundCommentary
"[Ganim's] voice lavishes the descriptions of beautiful landscapes of olive groves and delicious olive-oil-infused cuisine with audible love. He gives studied accents to the global range of olive oil producers, farmers, professors, and wholesalers, according to their country of origin." - AudioFile Magazine
Starred review. "Engrossing history, vivid contemporary reporting, and a cogent call to action, expertly blended in an illuminating text." - Kirkus Reviews
3 out of 4 stars. "Mueller builds a convincing case...gives readers the tools to find honestly and lovingly produced product." - USA Today
"...engaging story..." - Publishers Weekly
"Extra Virginity promises a journey into the 'sublime and scandalous world of olive oil' and delivers on that promise. Readers of this book will never again look at olive oil in the same way." - New York Journal of Books
"a sparkling, stylish, sharply observed narrative that entertains and educates." - The Dallas Morning News
"Extra-virgin olive oil is glorious, complex and slippery...that's bountifully clear in Tom Mueller's expansive, fascinating exploration...Mueller manages to fuse the poetry and business of olives into a riveting tale that also sheds light on food politics more broadly. The growing legion of olive oil aficionados are destined to adore it, especially the useful index telling them how and where to buy." - Macleans
"How long have readers been waiting for a book like this? A century? A millennium? Finally, the earth's most poetic food has found its storyteller. Essential, smart, and ridiculously overdue." - Bill Buford, author of Heat
Columbus Dispatch
“The New Yorker writer does for his subject what Susan Orlean did for orchids.”
Hollywood Reporter
“... [Extra-Virginity] does for olive oil what Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation did for hamburgers. Mueller traces the history of this valuable product from antiquity to the present, but the really disturbing part is his expose of the inferior quality control and outright fraud among today’s’ oil producers.”
New York Times
“Mueller reveals the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and teaches readers how to sniff out the good stuff.”— Dwight Garner
USA Today
“Mueller builds a convincing case for olive oil as one of the most miraculous and versatile substances in all of nature. . . . Passionately written yet clear-headed.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Tom Mueller is, in turn, chemist, explorer, scholar and bard, infusing the narrative with a sense of wonder.”
Wall Street Journal
“Extra Virginity may make you reconsider the extra you’re paying for ‘extra.’”
Library Journal
Mueller, a freelance writer based in Italy, expands on his 2007 New Yorker article, "Slippery Business: The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil," with this in-depth look at the world of olive oil production. Skillfully blending international courtroom drama with the rich history of one of the first commodities, Mueller explains that despite its almost universal status as a symbol of peace and prosperity, olive oil has been a magnet for fraud and corruption since antiquity. While the earliest record of oil tampering dates back to 5000-year-old cuneiform tablets, the Romans devised a system that helped curtail such behavior; bottles known as amphorae were stamped or inscribed with notes at each stop on their way to the consumer. Mueller would say that such a system would be a good starting point in today's olive oil trade, where the words "Made in Italy" carry almost no assurance that anything other than the label is from that country. VERDICT Fans of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Peter Singer and Jim Mason's The Way We Eat will find Mueller's indictment of a slippery trade enlightening and entertaining.—Rosemarie Lewis, Georgetown Cty. Lib., SC
Kirkus Reviews
Expanding on his New Yorker article exposing fraud in the olive oil industry, Mueller considers the trade's past, present, and future. The author opens with an olive oil tasting, where experts identify the flavors and fragrances that distinguish high-quality oil from lampante, which can legally be sold only for fuel--except that lax enforcement by the EU has led to an epidemic of oil labeled extra virgin and/or "100 percent Italian" when in fact it is a blend of cheaper oils from other countries. In addition to the slippery (but often surprisingly engaging) rascals whose shenanigans Mueller investigated in the original article, the author visits conscientious cultivators striving to elevate standards with a combination of time-honored techniques and cutting-edge technology. Among them are the De Carlos in Puglia, historic center of Italian olive oil production; the Vaño family in Jaén, trying to improve the generally low quality of Spanish oil; and Gordon Smyth of the New Norcia monastery near Perth, innovative preserver of a tradition established by the Spanish monks who brought olive trees to Australia in 1846. Mueller consults with chemists and government officials on two continents to examine why extra virgin olive oil is so healthful and why attempts to control its adulteration have been so ineffectual. (Short answer: corruption in Italy; indifferent FDA in America.) He intersperses aromatic vignettes from the history of olive oil, which in centuries past adorned the bodies of Greek athletes, burned in lamps in Christian churches, served as a folk remedy for a plethora of ailments and set the civilized Romans apart from those barbarians who favored meat, beer and animal fat over bread, wine and oil. So, "[a]re we witnessing a renaissance in oil, or the death of an industry?" The answer is still uncertain, but lovers of fine food and fine prose will relish Mueller's exploration of the storied byways and modern sanctuaries of the olive, related with supple elegance. Engrossing history, vivid contemporary reporting and a cogent call to action, expertly blended in an illuminating text.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611203547
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media
  • Publication date: 12/5/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 5.04 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Mueller writes for The New Yorker and other publications. He lives in a medieval stone farmhouse surrounded by olive groves in the Ligurian countryside outside of Genoa, Italy.

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Table of Contents

Prologue Essences 1

1 Olives and Lives 15

2 Oil Bosses 41

3 Olives Sacred and Profane 67

4 The Lovely Burn 89

5 Industrial Oil 111

6 Food Revolutions 131

7 New Worlds of Oil 159

Epilogue Mythologies 203

Glossary 207

Appendix Choosing Good Oil 221

Acknowledgments 231

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 670 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(440)

4 Star

(95)

3 Star

(66)

2 Star

(22)

1 Star

(47)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 681 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2011

    God bless Tim Tebow!

    Book is awesome so far and just comes to show you that this guy is for real. It pains me to hear and see all these haters out there who do not know how to deal with somebody with such talent, faith and heart. Keep up the awesome work Tim and do not let anyone take your faith away from you! God bless!!

    49 out of 57 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    Dont hate on tebow!

    I am a christian and this book inspired me to live up to my full potental and give the glory to God through it. To all the haters: come on, hes a great person and a great athlete and just because hes chrisrian dont mean hes not totally awesome! Read it and be inspired!

    27 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read

    My copy arrived yesterday, and I finished it in the afternoon even though I had Uni in the morning.
    Good book, interesting writing style. Very raw and honest. Thank you.

    21 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    HONOR ON AND OFF THE FIELD

    "through my eyes" is very hard to put down. tim tebow has a very encouraging memoir were he shares his early years what it took to win the the heisman trophy as well as what it took to win 2 awsome bcs championships for the gators this is a wonderful book that shows how hard work and ethics and commitment to family and faith pays off in a young mans life. great to read about someone who is making a difference on a off the field who is a great roll model great gift idea for a friend or family member

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2011

    NOT just a Gator/football book!

    Being of the Gator Nation, I of course love this book! I also had the pleasure of meeting Tim at one of his book signings and treasure the book even more. This book is so uplifting and isn't just about football or the Florida Gators. I think so many people would enjoy reading it and would get a lot out of it. This book truly shows that through hard work, faith and determination anything is possible. There have been so many days and situations that bring me back to something Tim said in the book and I'm thankful for that. Thank you Tim for all you do. God Bless & Go Gators!

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    I agree dave1985 public scools do cram athiasm down peoples throats i thank you for pointing this out because it is true. I am homeschooled and most of my friends are in public schools. I realy want to get this book it looks great. By the way, Tim Tebow rocks!

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 10, 2011

    Phenomenal

    After reading through the other reviews, I've got to agree with most of you. This book is amazing.

    I'm surprised by one of the other reviewer's comment when he said he felt like this book was "cramming religion down his throat." (As opposed to public schools that cram atheism down our throats these days) I'm sory, but anyone who has even the most passing knowledge of Tim Tebow knows that he's a man of great Faith, so it's no surprise that his book mentions his religion a great deal.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2012

    Recommended for everyone to read

    WOW! What a great book for anyone to read even if they are not into football or any other sport. Tim Tebow is a gentelman, with courage to show his faith and not ashamed of believing in God. Other athletes should follow his example and become more of a positive role model for all the younger generation to follow. If this would happen, just think how the sporting world could really make this world a better place to live and a world of peace.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 10, 2011

    :(

    Tthe guy who said tim is full of himself is an idiot tim loves God in all that he does and has saved millions of people

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 22, 2012

    A WOW book . . . inspirational values begin at home

    I've heard of Tebow but was never intrigued enough by him to read his book until the Broncos' unbelievable wild card overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. So much was written on his faith and character, I decided to purchase the book. Prior to reading, I perused several chapters and there was a definitive thread throughout the book which Tebow attributes everything he's learned to what his parents have taught him. It's not a novel idea that good parenting breeds good children, but in Tebow's case, it is truly profound. He sincerely applies what he's learned to his day to day life. Tebow has said how grateful he is that God has provided football to him as the platform to promote values leading to a chaste and charitable life . . . . this is an understatement. If the Broncos had not accomplished that incredible win with John 3:16 statistically present, I would never have known what a remarkable role model Tebow is. Hopefully others young and older reading his story in his own words, will be inspired to live the same way. With most of our tax revenues currently going to local law enforcement, how wonderful it would be if our kids could live as Tebow and shift those revenues into community services programs for a better world.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    A very motivating story

    Loved reading this book!!!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    Amazing

    Very insperational

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Interesting, but...

    Although I'm not a fan of Tim Tebow I was interested in the phenomenon surrounding him, so I bought his book. It was interesting to read about his upbringing and how he got to where he is today in his football career. However, I thought he was very egotistical and full of himself. I didn't find that he really wrote much about God and religion, other than praying for and about games. To me, he came across as a person more concerned about winning than anything else. I get the impression that his parents encouraged him too much (basically saying that God wants winners) and didn't do enough to let him know enjoying being a kid was okay too.

    All in all, it was an okay book. It mostly went over his upbringing, how he got into football, and went over every college game in some detail. I thought I would come out with a positive opinion of him. Unfortunately, it was the opposite and although I wish him health and happiness, I don't see myself rooting for him due to the way he came across in this book.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Great+book

    This+is+a+great+book+also+a+must+read

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Just cracked it open: good surprises already!

    Just picked up my copy! I can't wait to read it! However, I already love it, as it has an amazing surprise inside the dust jacket! :-) Loving all the verses at the beginning of each chapter too. So far they are all verses that he wore on his eyeblack during his junior and senior years as a Gator. Looking forward to reading the rest of the great book by this amazing man!

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    AWESOME

    This is the best book ever

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 10, 2012

    You are not going to want to miss this book! I am a school libr

    You are not going to want to miss this book! I am a school librarian and our kids have litterally loved this book. Its motivational message has stirred up some great, positive conversations about how the impact of Christianity mixed with a phenominal work ethic can help make this world a better place. It's good to have such a great role model for our kids. Don't we all want our kids to be as rock solid as Tebow? Don't we want our sports "heros" to send out a positive message to our children that there is joy in knowing a God who is good and faithful? Joy in life cannot be found in drugs and excess money or partying. Even if you don't believe in God as a higher power, Tebow's positive message can be used for the good for all!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    READ THIS from zach

    Tim tebow is one of the footnall because of his cristionanity
    not just because he is the best qourderback


    I think tibow is a great cristion man




    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    He's done it again

    Tim Tebow is the most inspirational person in the sports industry. His love for God has impacted me to set a better example for my influences and use my God-given talent to be a good influence as well. I recommend this book to anyone but especially to Filipino Christians. #FilipinosSupportTebow

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 29, 2011

    2Much Hipe

    There are many other great books out there. I read with an open mind, but Tebow has really gone to far with his overun ego to think millions actually want to read about superman.

    4 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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