OLIVE OIL. Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of meeting an amazing young woman that has become a hero in my eyes. Having learned of the widespread deception in the olive oil industry, she embarked on her own to bring ‘true’ olive oil from the fields of Italy to the dinner tables of Japan. This is not an easy quest for anyone, let alone someone that is quite new to the business world. Japan has many barriers to entry. Especially when it comes to food.
Yet there she sat, across the table from me, holding a ton of documents in her hand; the result of having just completed her first successful import of a 100% real olive oil, from fields in Italy that she has personally visited. All the leg work and paperwork being done by this one-woman force of nature.
But why? Why would this woman go through so much, with so little chance of financial reward, and such a heavy investment of time and money? Why olive oil?
Because unbeknownst to the vast majority of people, most olive oil is a fake. Yes, sadly, most of the olive oil used in the world is partially or wholly fake, having been mixed with or replaced by unhealthy vegetable oils. The news is out there, even being reported by mainstream media. However, the news does not remain in the spotlight long enough, and so it is forgotten.
You can read about the ugly truth, and the horrors inside the olive oil industry in a lengthy article by Forbes here.
And you can even watch a report about the scams on primetime TV news right here: Don’t fall victim to olive oil fraud – CBS News
Can this really be true? You will hear big business deny everything you see in those reports. But there is a very easy way to find the truth. Taste the oil. A 100% authentic, unprocessed olive oil should almost burn your throat. For the uninitiated, it will feel and taste unpleasant at first – until you adjust to the initial shock – and then you will appreciate the beauty of what real olive oil has to offer. But you need to get some real olive oil first, and that is where she comes in.
Not only does she see the fraud in the world of olive oil, but she also sees opportunity to contribute something socially and culturally to the world. She reminds me of E.F. Schumacher’s fantastic book ‘Small is Beautiful,’ as it expounds on the myriad advantages that small businesses have over big businesses – when we think about contributions to humanity, and the planet. The subtitle of E.F. Schumacher’s book is ‘Economics as if people matter.’ Yea, imagine that.
Sure, authentic olive oil is super healthy, and we should all have it in our diet. But even more than that, the small growers that provide it have a wealth of knowledge to offer us, and they are caretakers of our land and food, and of a responsible way of life. They are people too. The kind of people that we need more and more these days. So using their olive oil is not only good for our health, but supports them, and is thus good for the health of the planet.
In addition to her efforts with olive oil, Yui has an even more amazing initiative in something called ‘Grandmother’s Day,’ which I explain in this video, after a quick hello from her: