The seedy underbelly of the oil industry

First it’s pink slime – the product used as filler in ground beef, which has the worst nickname since the manatee got the nickname “sea cow,” and now I read something that rocked me to my very core. It was an article detailing the corrupt and criminal nature of the oil industry.

Olive oil.

Whaaaat? Apparently there’s an olive oil mafia and criminal syndicate that profits from selling fake olive oil. I wish I was making this up.

“Olive oil piracy is one of the Italian Mafia’s most lucrative enterprises, to the extent that it appears that most olive oil on the market is either greatly diluted or completely forged by a massive shadow industry that involves major names such as Bertolli,” said investigative journalist Pauli Poisuo.

In fact, in 2007, it was reported that only 4 percent of olive oil leaving Italy was pure Italian olive oil. In the original “Godfather” novel, Vito Corleone was based on a real-life olive oil Mafioso. I bet he smelled delicious.

I’ve grown to become somewhat of an oil snob, because I guess that just happens when you become an adult with a passion for sauting. Coconut, avocado, olive, canola … I just can’t get enough. And oils infused with other ingredients? I find myself getting downright dirty.

“Oh yeah, infuse that oil,” I’ll growl in the supermarket, staring at a bottle of rosemary-infused olive oil. This has the added bonus of making other shoppers leave the aisle. More for me!

But after learning this, I don’t know what I’ve been eating this whole time. If it’s not pure, uncut, cold-pressed olive oil, what is it? I feel used; used like an empty bottle of olive oil.

Of course, what helps soothe the pain is the mental image of a shadowy olive oil cartel. For example, when you picture a drug deal go bad, in your head you picture a drug boss – likely with an eye patch or bandana – ripping open a random clear plastic bag, dipping his finger in and rubbing it over his gums to check the quality, because that’s what he’s always witnessed bad guys do in movies. If it doesn’t meet his standards, the movies tell us a large gun battle ensues, often in slow motion.

Now picture a secret, illegal, olive oil deal. I imagine the tension between the producer of the fake oil and the armed criminal purchaser is offset a bit by the fact that they probably test it by dipping garlic bread or sauting a marinated chicken breast.

The most rare and sought-after olive is “extra virgin,” which is what I considered myself to be in high school. I use it so often that whenever I spy “pure olive oil” in someone’s pantry, I just shake my head and mutter “pure my foot! You’re not even regular virgin!” Then people wonder why I’m chastising their pantry, and also why I’m in the pantry, and also who I am.

All this makes me wonder, what else don’t we know about our food? I stare at my cupboards and call all my condiments liars. I pick up a bottle of barbecue sauce.

“Are you really ‘smoky’?!” I ask-shout.

As I fume, I crusade to the Internet for answers. Here are some more liars/frauds that I’m exposing. I don’t care if they come after me; their entire existence is a lie and it’s time some brave, handsome, gallivanting hero calls them out on their crap.

Circus peanuts Aren’t peanuts at all. Actually CANDY. You think you can just add the word “circus” in front of you and make everything okay with your lies? Maybe nobody told you, because you’ve been traipsing in rail cars all your life, going from town to town putting on shows and spreading lies, but just because you describe yourself as “circus” doesn’t mean that you’re “fun.” Deception ISN’T fun.

You’re the Harold Hill of the nut family. If you don’t know, that’s the main character in the hit Broadway musical “The Music Man.” I watch musicals and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. IT JUST MEANS I’M CULTURED. Don’t give me guff.

Look, Circus whatevers, you’re being given to children. CHILDREN. You should be ashamed of yourselves; that is, if you had any shame to begin with. Clearly you don’t. You should be featured in the Freak Show tent as the WORLD’S BIGGEST LIAR. Don’t look to visit my Trick-or-Treat basket anytime soon. I don’t know what kind of con you’re pulling, but it ends now.

Strawberries NOT ACTUALLY BERRIES. Guess what is an actual berry, faker? The banana. That’s right. And you don’t see bananas trumpeting this fact for the world to love and appreciate. They don’t have the cojones to call themselves bananaberry. This is probably because they witnessed a murder and are in the witness protection program. Whoops. Anyway, suck on that, strawberry. Or strawI don’t know what to call you anymore. StrawPHONEY? I hate you and your delicious juices. You have SOME NERVE pairing yourself with bananas in my yogurts and smoothies. You’re just lucky bananas are so lenient and forgiving. But that doesn’t mean you can just walk all over them like you’re doing now. GOD. Jerk.

Refried beans Turns out many times refried beans aren’t even fried once. Way to get everybody to think you’re such a hard worker. You’re no twice-baked potato, that’s for dang sure. Refried beans, I’m on to you. The free ride’s over.

Hamburger Contains no ham. Like, none. Oh, I know what you’ll say, hamburger; “I originated in Hamburg, Germany!” I don’t believe your lies. The next thing you’ll tell me is you have over 15 years of foreign policy experience. Well, guess what, SOMETHING BURGER, anybody can put that on their LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t make it true. Until you can produce a legit birth certificate or something I’m not buying it. Don’t even think about running for president.

Rocky Mountain Oysters Not oysters. Not from the Rocky Mountains, particularly. I’ve been eating these for years. Let’s see what the Internet says about your fraudulent activity. Probably nothing too terrible, rig-OHMYGOD. I feel like someone’s kicked me in the OHGOD! I can’t stop thinking about this. I need to wash my eyes out with bleach then perhaps give myself some Rohypnol in order to forget. Who does your PR, because they deserve a freaking raise. I can’t even look at you anymore, much less put you in my mouth.

I’m so disillusioned. Time to drown my sorrow in olive oil. Or whatever’s in the bottle.

Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via . (now in the witness protection program after blowing this conspiracy WIDE OPEN) Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he’ll put his hand gently on your back while you pee.