What Olive Oil Should Taste Like, The Scary Truth About Olive Oil, Can You Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Much More!

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I drink oodles of extra virgin olive oil.

Every day.

My kids and wife do too. It's a crucial staple in our diet…yet there's plenty of confusion around olive oil…

  • Can you cook with olive oil?
  • How should you store olive oil?
  • What should you look for in a good olive oil?
  • How do you differentiate between all the different certificates and grades of olive oil?
  • And much more!

So in today's podcast, I interview T. J. Robinson, aka “The Olive Oil Hunter ®” who is one of the world's most respected authorities on all matters olive oil.

Known for his “platinum palate,” he is one of the few Americans invited to serve as a judge in prestigious Italian olive oil tasting competitions.

These days he is dedicated to importing rare fresh-pressed olive oil via The Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, the most flavorful and healthiest extra virgin olive oil on the planet, until now virtually impossible to obtain year-round in the U.S. All his oils are independently lab tested and certified for 100% purity.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What makes olive oil so beneficial to our health…5:13

  • Science database of olive oil research, including studies Ben mentions
  • Olive oil leads to a distinct drop in blood pressure w/ no change in cholesterol; increased triglyceride, decreased HDL count (atherogenic index)
  • Bigger predictor of C/V disease is the HDL to triglyceride ratio (more so than total LDL cholesterol)
  • Research on mental health and depression
  • Stabilization of blood glucose w/ small amounts of olive oil throughout the day
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mediterranean diet associated w/ improvements in longevity (not the modern bastardized version)
    • Fasting
    • Sprouting, fermenting, etc.
  • The primary fatty acid in olive oil is oleic acid (C18:1)
    • It's a double bond (less oxidation); safe for cooking at high temperatures
    • Two fatty acids for the brain: Oleic acid, and fish oil (sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring)
  • Other bioactive compounds:
    • Bi0phenyls (found in the olive fruit that scavenges free radical species)
    • BGF podcast w/ Dr. William Li (author of Eat to Beat Disease)
    • Oleocanthal has the same anti-inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen (sans the gastric side effects)
    • Phytosterols
    • Squalines (extra virgin olive oil has high amounts) to protect the skin
    • Alphatocopherols (Vitamin E)
    • Hydroxy terpenic acids (lower inflammation, risk of cancer, decrease blood pressure)

-How T.J. Robinson became acquainted w/ the olive oil mafia…20:18

  • Grew up in Asheville, NC
  • Scored a gig w/ the Food Network; was sent on assignment to Sicily, Italy, where he became acquainted w/ olive oil
  • Harvest of the olive fruit is celebrated widely in Italy and Greece
  • New Yorker article: Slippery Business — The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil
  • Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller, author of the aforementioned New Yorker article
  • Rampant fraud: It is easy to package cheaper, lesser quality oils as olive oil and sell at olive oil prices
  • Olive oil sold in bulk is far more susceptible to adulteration than an artisan oil
  • Polyphenols and antioxidants deplete by up to 50% during the first 6 months after distribution

-What you need to know about the dates on the package and how to store your olive oil…33:52

  • Three killers of olive oil: light, time, temperature
  • Look for the “harvest date” rather than the expiration date
  • Look for dark plastic or glass bottles
  • Don't store olive oil above the stove or in the fridge
  • Store in a pantry at room temperature, away from light
  • Polyphenols and antioxidants prevent the olive oil from oxidizing
  • Restaurant olive oils are often adulterated w/ GMO's, soy, etc.
  • Spirulina and glycine protect the gut from oxidized oils
  • Olive oil has similar fat makeup as human breast milk
    • Olive oil is used as a delivery mechanism for food to babies

-How olive oil is actually produced…44:07

  • Olives are picked from the tree, contain 10% oil when they're green
  • Deleafed and washed at the mill
  • Crusher (like a food processor) turns it into a paste
  • Goes into the millaxer (paste begins to break into parts: solid, water, oil)
  • Oil is spun via centrifuge, then goes into the tasting cup
  • The solids are dried out and reused as organic fertilizer for the crops

-The process by which T.J. inspects and selects the olives he uses for his customers…51:08

  • Flos Olei (website is written in Italian)
  • A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Flos Olei (2019 edition)
  • Samples are collected, big tasting party
  • Identify the farms to visit (5-6)
  • Trees that are stressed (less water) produce a higher quality oil, higher polyphenols
  • Developing relationships: A farm that's not the right fit at a particular season may be in the future
  • Two criteria for extra virgin olive oil:
    • Meet a chemistry panel for quality parameters
    • Panel of tasters looking for taste defects
  • Most oil in the U.S. doesn't go through this tasting panel
  • Oils labeled as extra virgin may not pass the criteria by the time it's purchased

-How you can assess (and enjoy) olive oil on your own…1:00:51

  • “Single variety” refers to one olive fruit used
  • Watch out for oils that are labeled as “blends”
  • Color of the oil isn't necessarily an indicator of its quality
  • Smell the oil
  • Swirl the cup (to release the aromas)
  • The taste test:
    • Fruitiness (flavorfulness)
    • Bitterness (high in polyphenols)
    • Spiciness
  • People are using olive oil as a tool for weight loss
  • It's great as a skin, hair, and face moisturizer
  • Can be used as protectant from the sun and skin healer
  • Used to clean tile
  • Drizzle fresh-pressed olive oil over vanilla ice cream for dessert

-How to cook with extra virgin olive oil…1:23:27

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

The Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club (click here to get a free bottle with just $1 shipping and handling)

Boundless, Ben's newest book

– Article: Research Finds Extra Virgin Olive Oil Safest, Most Stable for Cooking

– Article: The World of Olive Oil Is Murky. Here’s Help for the Home Cook.

– Article: Don’t Sleep On This Game-Changing Ingredient

Science database of olive oil research, including studies Ben mentions
– New Yorker article: Slippery Business — The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil

– Book: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller

Flos Olei (website is written in Italian)

A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Flos Olei (2019 edition)

BGF podcast w/ Dr. William Li

– Book: Eat to Beat Disease by Dr. William Li

Episode sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for TJ or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

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27 thoughts on “What Olive Oil Should Taste Like, The Scary Truth About Olive Oil, Can You Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Much More!

  1. Superchunk says:

    I’d like to by some of these oils but I travel outside the US for months at a time and am just one person so the club would be too much oil for me. Is there a way to order a few bottles at a time?

  2. Maree Halstead says:

    Fabulous podcast! Thankyou!
    I live in Australia and I see the club does not supply international customers. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought Australia was mentioned in a list of countries TJ visits. So, I was wondering if there were any recommendations of suppliers TJ could give so we could source Olive Oil ourselves here?
    Thanks again Ben for all your podcasts – I am an avid listener! :)

  3. Gena Poda says:

    Do you guys ship to Canada (Toronto)?

  4. Brendan says:

    Hi Ben, great show and learnt so much. I have checked all the olive oil bottles i could find in shops locally and only one had a manufactured date (2 years old!!). Do you have any thoughts on rapeseed oil and how it compares to the other oils in your book? does it align closely with any of those other types?

  5. Fatima Cook says:

    I am obsessed with good olive oil! I enjoyed this so much. I’d love to become T.J.’s apprentice!!

  6. michelle says:

    Hi – im in the UK and would love to join too and happy to pay the extra shipping….although ant help but feel bad about buying olive oil from Europe, thats been shipped to US and then back to me in Eurpopw?!

    1. T.J. says:

      Thank you Michelle, we would love to have you in the club but we only ship within the US.

  7. Konstantinos says:

    Just buy some from here in Greece!.

    1. Tj says:

      We had a beautiful Greek selection on the club in Q4!

  8. Daniel Dorigiola says:

    Is the membership available in Canada?

    1. Tj says:

      Sadly, we only ship within the US.

  9. Minh says:

    Just joined the club. Excited to get the first bottle!

    1. Tj says:

      Thank you! I’m excited for you to try the oil! Please let us know what you think!

  10. Jane says:

    Hey Ben
    Why do you recommend black pepper with curcumin supps (p. 263 of your new book), when so many other companies and health experts avoid it due to GI side effects.

  11. Jeremy says:

    Just to clarify, is fresh pressed club only available in the US?

    I’m in Australia and would sign up immediately.

    If it’s not available outside of the US are there any plans to open this up to other countries? Is there any other way for us to purchase these products directly?


    1. Tj says:

      Hi Jeremy,
      Yes, we only ship within the US.
      You have some great options in AU during the fall harvest time. Where are you located?

  12. Dan says:

    Given the high amount of fraud and poor regulations, what do you think of the likely quality of the olive oil that most anchovies, sardines, or canned mackarel comes in? And even when it doesn’t purport to be EVOO, but only “olive oil” do you have the same level of concern with ingesting that as you would typical seed oils? I try to get these SMASH fish in spring water, but the anchovies and mackarel in particular are almost impossible to find that way. Ben, or anyone, have any extra insight or knowledge around this?

    1. Tj says:

      It may not be the freshest or highest quality oil. It should be sealed from air and light which helps. I drain and sometimes even rinse foods packed in poor quality oils, and replace it with fresh oil prior to eating and for further storage in the refrigerator.


  13. Mark says:

    I’ve lived in Sicily for many years and have never seen canola oil in any of the stores I frequent. I know for certain they don’t grow it in Sicily and probably not in Italy. When needing a cheap oil Sicilians use sunflower seed oil.

    1. Tj says:

      Thanks for the insights, Mark!

  14. Julie says:

    Great podcast Ben; love the content and knowledge you share as with all of your guests! Can’t wait to try this amazing olive oil when it gets delivered! Btw, do you share your wive’s sourdough bread recipe? I couldn’t find it anywhere in your Boundless book but would love to make some!

    Julie S.

  15. Jeff Wong says:

    Really informative show!

  16. Annette Demeny says:

    Listen twice already!!! Learned so, so much and plan to join the club! Also, I’m half way through Boundless and have found it more helpful than I even anticipated. Huge BGF fan and haven’t missed a podcast episode. LOVE your coffee and Kion bars! Keep up the good work!

  17. Troy Rathbone says:

    Very interesting .Really liked the show So disappointed that the club doesn’t shipped to Canada

    1. K. Fraser says:

      We would be happy to pay for the extra shipping to CANADA!!!

  18. Robert says:

    Thank you so much for the podcast! Not sure how to fix this but I have been trying to check it the olive oil club but I’m unable to get to site due to expired SSL cert. Is there another link I can use? Thanks again!

    1. Tj says:

      Sorry you’re having trouble. Please try viewing it privately (Privacy mode) and/or clearing your browser cache.

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