Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil


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 olive oil. But what if this symbol of health and purity has become deeply corrupt? Extra Virginity is an explosive story of oil fraud - a story of globalization, deception, and crime in the food industry from ancient times to the present - but it's also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, food activists, chemists and chefs who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name "extra virgin."


Selected Reviews

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 the bestselling Heat 

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. – USA Today, Weekend Book Pick

Mueller reveals the brazen fraud in the olive oil industry and teaches readers how to sniff out the good stuff. – New York Times

Tom Mueller is, in turn, chemist, explorer, scholar and bard, infusing the narrative with a sense of wonder. – Times Literary Supplement

An eye-opening and brilliantly researched exposé. – London Times

In covering an industry that has its heroes and villains, author Tom Mueller does a splendid job of sorting out the players and demystifying the product. – Los Angeles Times

Starred review: Engrossing history, vivid contemporary reporting and a cogent call to action, expertly blended in an illuminating text. – Kirkus Reviews

Skillfully blending international courtroom drama with the rich history of one of the first commodities.... 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. – Library Journal

Intriguing and sumptuously researched. — Publisher’s Weekly

An eye-opening account of the dark side of the olive oil trade.  From small-town Italian farmers to poker-playing agricultural barons, Mueller presents the stories of those whose lives are entwined with and affected by counterfeit oil.  As entertaining as it is informative and as fast-paced as a thriller, you will not be able to put it down. — Daily Express

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Where to Buy

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