Posted: October 28, 2015 in Food, travel
Tags: , , , , ,

You’ve probably read about the crazy European olive oil business and how many olive oils are mislabeled and don’t contain what they claim. Some don’t even contain olive oil! Some things I’ve learned:

  • Avoid blends. If the bottle says the olives come from different countries, pass on it. Many that do this use the lowest quality oils they can scrape up from old olives. And many even add oils like peanut oil…dangerous if you suffer from nut allergies.
  • Many producers label the country of origin as Italy, even though the olives didn’t come from there. Italy sells.
  • Go local…or more local, anyway. To me, the European olive oil market is bogus, and I’ve found great olive oils grown and pressed in California.
  • Ask a favor. If you’ve got friends traveling to Italy, Greece, or other olive oil-producing country, they can buy them straight from the olive grower. Ask them to bring some home. You won’t get a lot, but what you get will be really special, and the real deal.

Considering that vegetable oils like canola, corn, safflower, sunflower and others are highly processed and should be avoided, searching out good quality olive oil is worth the effort. The only oils I use for cooking are olive, avocado and coconut.

And the obvious: If you’re paying cheap bucks for a bottle of so-called extra virgin olive oil, you can bet your ass that’s not what you’re getting!


Just when the olive oil scandal has you shaking your head, a new scandal appears: most almond milks contain as little as 2% almonds! That means they have to fill the container with water and additives that thicken them or prolong their shelf life.

Most almonds are grown in California, in the area where the drought has hit the hardest. Almond milk’s surge in popularity has forced many farmers to use techniques that are environmentally unsafe. So now they’re telling you to drink other milk substitutes like soy, rice or coconut milk.

Soy has a world of problems associated with it, the least of which is the non-organic soybeans that are sprayed with Monsanto’s Round-Up. And they contain plant-produced estrogens which can be bad for both men and women.  Coconut milk has loads of sugars. And rice milk has little or no nutritional benefits.

My solution is to make my own almond milk. It’s easy to do, and I know what’s in it; two simple ingredients: almonds and water.

1 cup organic raw unpasteurized almonds
cheese cloth

Make sure the almonds are raw and unsalted. Soak the almonds in a bowl of filtered water overnight. The next day, rinse them well and put them in a blender. Add 5 cups of fresh filtered water and blend well.

Strain the liquid through a double-folded piece of cheesecloth. (For just a few bucks, you can buy nylon material that is made just for this purpose and can be washed and reused.) Toss the solids in your compost pile and refrigerate the almond milk.

The almond milk will stay fresh about a week. I don’t sweeten or flavor mine because I mix it with oatmeal, cinnamon and a little maple syrup…or I use it in fruit smoothies. But you might want to tweak the flavor if you’re drinking it straight.

  1. Andrea says:

    Hey Al – really love these posts – this one was really interesting, considering that we are in the food business and every bit of education we can get helps us in meetings. Btw – your recent Asian Shrimp was an inspiration – made a version with fish and tossed the rice with wilted bean sprouts and shallots – incredible! Happy Cooking –


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