Renegade Health Radio: The Italian Mafia May Be Selling You Fake Olive Oil

Monday Jun 16 | BY |
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RHR-Blog-Cover-Graphic In this podcast:

  • The truth about olive oil: why the Italian mafia is adulterating olive oil that actually contains canola, soybean, and GMOs
  • Exactly which olive oils to avoid and the ONE brand you can easily find that is 100% safe
  • The truth about stevia brands that are fake and don’t contain real stevia, but artificial sugar
  • The truth about fake grass-fed beef that isn’t grass-fed at all
  • And more!

Note: To find out more about Nick’s book, The Truth About Fat-Burning Foods, go to:

Click the play button to start the call:


Subscribe to Renegade Health Radio on iTunes. Click here—and leave us a comment.

Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. This is Kevin Gianni with Frederic Patenaude. Hey Fred.

Frederic: Hey Kevin, how are you doing today?

Kevin: I’m always doing awesome. We have a guest today. How cool is this?

Frederic: Yes. Our very first guest.

Kevin: We are guest virgins.

Frederic: Yes, if you put it that way. And our first guest today is also from Montreal, Canada.

Kevin: Another French Canadian.

Frederic: Yes. You’re out numbered two to one.

Kevin: Oh, my gosh! You know, I love Canadians. They’re my favourite people and I truly believe that they are the second nicest people on the planet.

Frederic: After Americans?

Kevin: No, absolutely not. After the Kiwis, after New Zealanders – I’ve never met a New Zealander who had a bad bone or any sort of, I don’t know, just nastiness in their body. I’m sure that there are but…

Frederic: If you come to Montreal and some people might not be so nice to the Anglos. There’s a little bit of weird stuff going on here but let’s – why don’t we welcome our guest?
Kevin: Let’s do it! Nick!

Frederic: All right! Nick, how are you doing?

Nick: I’m doing fine especially now that you’ve told us that French Canadians are pretty cool, makes me happy.

Kevin: Fred, who’s Nick?

Frederic: Nick is a sort of an online sensation in the nutrition fitness alternative health world. Nick Pineault, by the way your last name is Pee-no.

Nick: Yeah.

Frederic: Pronounced not “Pee-nolt”, like probably many Americans say.

Kevin: But I admit that’s how I thought it was.

Frederic: Don’t pronounce the “L”. You know, there’s so many letters you’re not supposed to pronounce.

Nick: Yeah. That’s pretty complicated.

Frederic: Anyway, Nick, you wrote a book called, “Truth about Fat Burning Foods”, and it’s been a bestseller, pretty much online. A lot of people have promoted it. It’s a downloadable product but it’s, I must say, one of the nicely laid out, most deeply researched product I ever came across.

Nick: Thanks.

Frederic: So we wanted definitely to have you. I know you’re really passionate about your health journalism and we’re going to talk about some great stuff. So we met in person, Nick and I, and also eventually we’re going to promote Nick’s product and we want to help each other out because there’s definitely we see things in same light.

Kevin: Did you guys meet at Horton’s? Where is it, Tom Horton’s?

Nick: Tim Horton’s?

Kevin: Tim Horton’s.

Nick: No. It was a raw food restaurant in Montreal, something more high-end than Tim Horton’s.

Kevin: Listen to me. I’m like Tom Horton’s. I’m such an ignorant guy.

Nick: It’s such a cliché.

Kevin: I know, I know. So Nick, what is the truth about fat-burning foods? Let’s get down to it.

Nick: So, first of all, I’m the author officially of “Truth about fat burning foods” but I’m going to say that we’re two in this business because I’m working full-time with my fiancée, Jen, and she contributed to the book a lot. She’s basically the co-author behind the scenes, if you will. She’s going to be the co-author on our next book so that’s coming up next July. Anyway, long story short, we’ve been doing a lot of research on food choices and I’ve been really passionate about nutrition myself especially for about 8-10 years. Just going through a lot of phases in my life trying to gain mass and eating 5000 calories per day at the height of 5-foot 4, can you imagine.
Kevin: Oh, my gosh!

Nick: Yeah, anyway, a lot of dairy, a lot of whole wheat. Everything I thought was healthy at the time, and my health wasn’t so good. I was gaining a lot of weight but mostly, fat. So you can probably guess that. So anyway, then I watched some documentaries like most people do. One day, they just come across something that just will change how they see food forever. And for me was Food Inc. and food matters and all these ground-breaking documentaries that I watched. It just opened my mind like, wait a minute, this is not what I thought was healthy for all those years. How come what people, what marketers are telling me about margarine and about whole wheat is not the same thing that I’m now reading from all source of experts. Chris Chrysler, and all those guys, I started reading what they were saying and there was a big – I don’t know that word. But anyway, a big difference between what they were saying and what the actual education is. So to me it was very weird. And then both me and Jen have a communications background so we just went full journalism mode and just started thinking about how we can just put this information in a nice layout and make it really simpler because people don’t have time to be such a nutrition nerd like me and spend like a thousand hours reading about Agave syrup and trying to figure out if it’s healthy or not. So we just tried to bring that to the table and then eventually we connected with a lot of people that also do the same thing; that have fitness products and that are just trying to help people and they liked the product. And then one year later, we sold over 30,000 products right now. So it’s pretty amazing! We have a huge following, and we’re trying now to just provide more information and help people out trying to give them information and actionable things that they can do in their life to get healthy.

Kevin: What’s in the book that works for people? I mean, obviously if people are buying it there’s something in there that really kind of, you know gives them this feeling that, “Wow! I just learned something that’s amazing!” Give me one thing.

Nick: Yeah, yeah. I mean one of the most fascinating things that people read about in the book, and that they’re just there – I can imagine the jaw just drop and basically, it’s about olive oil. A lot of people know, okay, olive oil, obviously, is healthy and there’s no problem there. I just buy olive oil wherever I go, in the supermarket and everything will be fine. But the truth is that, for example, Tom Mueller is the author of the book, “Extra Virginity” and he’s an investigated journalist a little bit more – a more exciting life than me. He just went on a trip to bust the Italian mafia and really look on how olive oil is made. It turns out, for example, in 2008 the Italian police ran something called Operation Golden Oil and they arrested a bunch of people in Italy and it turns out that a lot of people are adulterating olive oil around the world – Italy, in Morocco, all across the Mediterranean area. So anyway, on the counters of the supermarket shelves what you find is usually an adulterated product and that’s really surprising to a lot of people. And what that means is, basically you’re buying extra virgin olive oil but it can contain Canola oil or corn oil or even soy bean oil and jam all stuff in there and that’s a freaking scam, that most people are really angry at that. And I mean, in the end is just, I think anything that people can make money out, there will be some people trying to make the quick buck and that’s just one example. It’s just like selling drugs. They sell fake olive oil. That’s really, it sounds like a movie but it’s the reality.

Frederic: What should we do, Nick, to avoid that kind of bad stuff and get the good olive oil? Do you have some quick tips?

Nick: Yeah, sure, definitely. It’s really hard to tell you. There’s a couple of brands, for example, that they use. UC Davis, that’s an olive oil center that does a sensory test and lab testing in California. They found out, for example, that the Kirkland Organic from Costco is one of the best qualities olive oil you can find on a large scale. So that’s very surprising to a lot of people but I personally know that Costco has really high quality standards. That’s something if people have a Costco around just buy the organic Costco olive oil. It’s probably one of the best that you can find. Something to look at, of course, is where it actually comes from. If you buy it in a small specialty store, for example, chances are, it will be a higher quality and you can actually ask the clerk where it comes from. Usually it’s a private import, something like that. Another good sign, for example, if you have a dark glass, a dark glass obviously means that people who produce the olive oil understand that olive oil is not friends with any kind of light because it will oxidize and will lose its properties. At the same time, one last thing is the harvest date. If an olive oil doesn’t have any harvest date, that’s usually a bad sign because, olive oil once it has been bottled, it has a shelf life of about two years. It has to be fresh and if you buy old olive oil or random olive oil, chances are that you’re not getting really what you’re paying for.

Kevin: That’s intense! I never knew that about the Italian olive oil. It makes me just want to buy a California olive oil.

Nick: Yeah. Actually in the US, it’s just another reason to buy local and at least, I don’t know of any state that would produce olive oil except from California. But it’s still encouraging inside the country. Instead of just getting it shipped from the other side of the world. It’s just logical.

Kevin: What are some other things that we should be concerned about things that might be not what they seem?

Nick: Oh, there’s a lot. One thing, for example, people jump on Stevia these days, right? So they’re trying to reduce their sugar intake for many good reasons. They know it’s not healthy for any part of their bodies especially in the quantities that people are eating it these days about 130 pounds a year. But anyway, even if you consume just a lot, a lot of people for example, they will start putting some Stevia in their coffee or tea, instead of sugar which is a good step to better health. But anyway, these two brands for example PureVia, which is I think is it Pepsi or Coca-Cola but anyway, one of these big companies has that. PureVia and Stevia in the raw, both of these brands sell small packets of Stevia. So it’s written Stevia all over it, 100 percent pure or whatever, and it’s written zero calories. But you just look at the ingredient list on the actual box and it’s 99 percent dextrose. So I mean, it’s kind of nonsense that they can advertise their product as being sugar-free when it’s 99 percent sugar. It’s really ridiculous. Because the FDA, if you have something under a certain amounts of calories, you can declare its zero calories. And they don’t have to say, they can say it’s Stevia even though, it’s like, it’s not Stevia at all. If people consume a lot of these packets thinking that they’re reducing their sugar intake, they’re really not. So I think, to me, that’s the real example of a food scam and that’s really sad that companies get away with these. Because consumers don’t have time to do the research and to worry about all those things because life is just worrying enough as it is. I mean people are so worrying about pesticides and everything in their food and then they have to worry about Stevia, it’s a pretty hard thing to understand.

Kevin: Well, this is the same technique they use for the fat-free sprays, the oral sprays that you spray on the pan. I think they’re less than 0.5 grams per serving of fat and you can label it fat-free on the front. I mean, it’s total idiocy. It just makes no sense to me. It’s like how on earth, like who is the moron up in one of those agencies who just decided one day that, that actually made sense?

Nick: Yeah, exactly. I mean, the zero trans fat trend is the same thing in, for example, in like some peanut butters you can have trans fat in there in really small quantities but I’ve read something on Science Daily and researchers are really – people think, for example, all the trans fats are being banned now, at least the FDA has proposed the ban and everything will be okay. But as we speak, it’s not banned and some people are consuming a lot of these zero Trans fat products without knowing that they’re getting a 0.4 gram here and 1 gram here. The studies have proven that just a couple of grams a day is enough to like multiply your chances of heart disease? I mean, it’s crazy. It’s crazy that they’re allowed to just put 1 gram or like a milligram of Trans fat in there if we know that it’s one of the most dangerous food ingredient there is.

Frederic: Crazy! And isn’t it in the Pam spray that you have to do half a second to get zero calories?

Kevin: That’s true.

Nick: Ah yes, something like that. I think it’s a millisecond.

Frederic: Now, you also had something else which is related maybe more to what people in the paleo crowd are eating? Like, for example, grass-fed beefs, seeking grass-fed beef?

Nick: Sure.

Frederic: Or free-ranged eggs and it’s quite popular and obviously grass-fed is better but what’s the truth there about the animal foods and whether they’re truly, what they’re claiming to be?

Nick: Yeah, exactly. That’s one problem. I mean, the problem arises in our society when something becomes popular. So for example, these days you have gluten-free, everything is gluten-free and now you get some foods that were never contained gluten now they’re labelled gluten-free. And that, to me, is unacceptable. When it comes to grass-fed beef, so grass-fed beef is popular at the same the term “grass-fed” is really loosely regulated. That means basically you’re just feeding your beef with grains and I don’t know, let’s say that you want to make a quick buck, you label it as grass-fed and you can sell it at the grocery store, no problem. But the USDA, the only thing they tell you if you want, you can pay more and get this official labeling called “USDA grass-fed”. But why would you pay that if you’re into fraud anyway? I mean, there’s fraud. For example, there are some people that just will raise their cattle with grass and then they will finish it with grains. And we know that the last 30 to 90 days of feeding are really crucial when it comes to the fatty profile. So people who are trying to get “grass-fed” for example, to get all the benefits from the CLA and the right fats in there. They don’t want any of these omega-6s fats that come from all of those grains. Well, they’re still buying their grass-fed beef thinking that they’re not getting any of those but they’re still getting it and they’re still paying the full price. So the best thing when it comes to beef and a lot of these products, even eggs and all this, for example, are free-ranged or pastured eggs, they’re not regulated. It’s up to the farmer or the company to label their products. And to me that’s just nonsense. So anyway, what you need to do really is to go back to the old days when we used to know where our food was grown, or we knew the farmer personally and we just shook hands with people. And I mean it may be hard for lot of people but you can rely on, for example, your butcher. If you’re in a large city, for example, here in Montreal we have this Italian guy, classic Italian guy, “Hey, my friend. Come over, I’ll show you my meat!” And like, yeah, this guy will tell me this beef comes from locally, this farmer and his passion about food. So you need to go back to people who actually know what they’re talking about and their passion and they want to offer that quality. Then you know it’s grass-fed. Or I mean the best thing you can do is really a good experience for anyone who hasn’t seen a farm. Because a lot of people live these days and they don’t want to go on a farm because it’s dirty, right? But anyway, you just go there and you see okay the beef is eating grass and I’m going to eat the beef who is eating grass so it’s right. It’s the right thing. And oh, guess what! These guys also sell fruits and veggies and there’s no pesticides on them. So there’s a lot of benefits from knowing people who grow your food. I think it’s really the best thing to do to improve the quality of the food.

Kevin: I think what Nick said about going to butcher is a fantastic idea. If you can have the access to a farm I mean, ask them about grass-fed, grass-finished which means that this is grass throughout the entire life of the cow. I actually went to a butcher – our butcher shop is about two blocks from us and I went to the butcher shop and I took a class – a lamb butchering class. Something like, an ex-vegan. I still am kind of wrapping my head around it just because there’s still like that kind of vegan ingrained in me. But it was really interesting to be there with the butcher guy who is kind of RH, started this shop after learning from Alice Waters who’s like the grandmother of local farm table food and it was just so cool to be there and just experience the actual process of doing this. And again, it may make some people queasy, some people may think that I’ve jumped ship and they’ll never listened to me or Fred or the podcast again but I think you need to be in touch with that if you’re going to be a part of it.

Nick: Yeah! I mean, especially the vegan arguments that we should not kill any animals. I respect that if people want to believe that. For me, I think eating a lot of meat as people are doing it in the United States and all around the world right now is terrible and we’ve gone way too far on the large scale feeding operations and everything. But if you want humanely raised beef and animals, you just have to go see the farmer, I think. Just on a personal standpoint, you have to know that these people care because even the butcher can tell you, “Oh! Yeah, this is humanely raised beef”. Maybe he doesn’t even know. I mean, in the end you just have to have confidence in people who are raising your animals if you have that and I think most people need to have that. That respect for animals. I mean it’s animal but it’s plant too. I mean, if you have like, oh yes, it’s an organic farm but you hear that they’re killing the soils so in 30 years from now there will be nothing that can grow over there. That’s bad. So you need to know that people have sustainability in mind when they grow food.

Frederic: Now one topic you had brought up Nick was also about the nutritional qualities of fruits and vegetables. How nutritious they are? How many vitamins and minerals? What’s the profile right now compared to the past? Is it true that what we tend to think that produce is less nutritious now than it used to be?

Nick: Yeah, it’s mostly true. I mean, there’s a couple of studies. Again these studies are – it’s hard to tell. For example, where the fruits and veggies came from or where they performed the studies. But overall, a couple of studies find just a reduction overall in some nutrients in fruits, veggies all across the United States, I mean, it’s pretty logical, all across the world, in big farming operations and it’s just a sign that the soils are depleted. It’s nothing more than that. But yes, I mean, some studies had proved it. And it’s something to keep in mind as we go forward in the future. So there’s just another reason that small farms and local agriculture and even having your backyard, your own backyard operation with some fruits, veggies, herbs is pretty smart. It’s because so nutrition comes from the soil because, for example, you got certain nutrients. If your soil is high in selenium, for example, then your beef is going to be high in selenium. And your plants are going to be high in selenium, if that’s a kind of nutrient they use in the soil. On the other hand, they found across Canada, for example, selenium is really scarce. And so are certain other nutrients just because overtime when you farm over and over and over again for the case, it just reduces the nutrient content in the soil. So yeah, it’s just another reason to find farming practices that keep sustainability in mind and maybe use rotational like, your culture or permaculture. There’s a lot of stuff going on that’s really interesting and you have to actually worry about that yourself because eventually it’s going to reflect in the nutrient content of the foods you buy. So I mean if you want organic foods, you pay more but is it organic foods from, I don’t know, both house or these big, huge companies owned by General Mills and all these multinational might have huge farms like 35 acres of tomatoes or is that a small farmer that has a really good quality soil? And that they just has probably more nutritious in the small farm at least in the long run.

Kevin: And you know that organic certification the USDA organic certification, I mean, I don’t trust this thing as far as I can throw myself. It really is one of these situations, we did some research for our skin care company and just looking at, you know where you pay money to certify your products, organics, non-GMO, no pesticides and then the USDA, out the backdoor, the top four, of the top four grants that they give, the companies that they give grants to, the list goes, I don’t even know what order but it goes, Cargill, Conagra, and ADM (Archer Daniels Midland). And these are companies that are promoting and supporting GMO, the use of pesticides, developing pesticides, developing genetically modified plants. I mean it’s disgusting why would anyone want to give money to that organization?

Nick: Yeah. Definitely, I mean, organic is one of those things these days. Yeah, for example, the EWG (Environmental World Group) that, okay, they claim 15 fruits and veggies you should eat, non-organic, that’s pretty fair. The Dirty Dozen that you should probably eat organic but I see a lot of people going all organic and to be honest I think on especially because they’re buying like organic processed foods and organic nonsense they’re really throwing their money, flushing their money down the toilet because they should be eating – instead, they should be taking that budget and just going to a small farm and buying in bulk from the small guys who are actually – their business is dying right now because no one, they don’t have the supply, they don’t have the marketing, they don’t know how to sell their stuff so they’re just old-school farmers who just want to meet you and to sell you cheap produce and cheap meat of very high quality. So yeah, I think, local and humanely raised and everything is way more important than organic.

Kevin: Well this has been great, Nick. If anyone out there wants to know more about what Nick is doing and why would you not, this has been pretty, pretty valuable. I’m excited to hear this information. I didn’t know anything about the olive oil. I’m going to go home – we usually get local California olive oil but every once in a while we get some of these other ones if we’re travelling and we can’t find a store we’ll buy an Italian one. So I’m a little bit concerned about what I’ve eaten in the past particularly since I don’t really prefer Canola oil and I’m sure that many of you don’t either. But if you want to find out more about Nick, you can go to That is Hey Nick thanks for coming on.

Nick: Thanks guys. It was very, very cool to be sharing this information with you guys and hopefully I’ll be able to come back and talk with you guys. It’s always a pleasure.

Kevin: Oh sure! And Fred, make sure you get more French Canadians, man. This has been – this is great!

Nick: The best accent.

Frederic: Then eventually the show might be in French.

Kevin: Oh! Then I’m out.

Frederic: You’re out, Kevin.

Kevin: At every pause break, “Can you interpret that for me?”

Frederic: Thank you Nick.

Nick: Bye, bye.

Kevin: All right guys, anyone who’s listening please make sure you leave a review for us, if you like Nick or if you like Fred or if you like me. I’m the serious one, Fred’s the funny one. Please leave a review on iTunes. That was just a joke there, the funny and the serious. I don’t know, Fred we had a comment about that, right?

Frederic: No, the comment was that I had a dry and sarcastic humour and you were serious and logical. But I don’t know, I think you’re the funny one and I’m kind of the angry one. I don’t know exactly. That depends on the week, right?

Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. Later!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Very informative guest, great show guys!!

  2. L.S. says:

    Please list, hopefully free of charge, a few of the safest brands in olive oil, stevia, produce, organic foods, or anything else. That will help us in shopping.

  3. Raymonde says:

    Wow what a info. I think the three of you was fabulous
    now in Canada the fresh vegetable is shortly coming out but where to get
    my veg. later in year if the USDA is a ripe off I’m shock of what I just heard.
    Thank you so much.

  4. Sondra says:

    Thank you for your recent radio program. We live in Nairobi Kenya. There are many small scale organic farmers here who are quite passionate about what they do. I am especially grateful because I am a vegan, and prefer to buy organic produce for my husband and myself. Thank you for the beneficial comments in your discussions.

  5. JT says:

    Nick’s book sounds really good. He had some excellent points. I had no idea that Costco’s Kirkland Organic Olive Oil has tested as high quality. That was good information! Many people think that just because it says Stevia it is healthy. Guess that no matter what the claims are by manufacturers, we just have to always check things out for ourselves. The Food Babe does a lot of this for us. She has helped me a lot recently. I appreciate anyone who is truly trying to help us in this maze of truth and lies when it comes to the food industry.

  6. jennyfer says:

    Like your show-it’s short enough that I can listen to it on a regular basis and informative! Keep it going!!!

  7. Lorrie says:

    You mentioned that Kirkland’s Costco brand of olive oil was found to be the best quality on a large scale. I have seen these bottles at Costco and the oil is in light colored plastic bottles. This is the reason I do not buy this olive oil. Plastic does leach into foods…so buyer beware!

  8. Mike says:

    thank you,

    Great to see others who are exposing all the rip offs out there in the food and supplement industry. Olive oil has been one of the biggest frauds on the consumer of all, but to learn about stevia fraud, that was new to me, so thanks for the information.

    Wealth Without Health is Worthless,

  9. Dana says:

    I’ve checked the olive oil I am using and it is an Italian product although it is a 365 brand, it comes in a dark bottle, and it has the ‘Non-GMO Project’ label on it…(I have purchased it from Whole Foods). I wonder if any olive oil coming from Italy is bad or there are certain brands less safe than others..?…

  10. IH says:

    Good information!!

    I was already suspicious about the Italian products. An example: balsamic vinegar. In the italian specialty stores I looked at the ingredients and those products all have artificial coloring and caramel in it. Not so with the Californian balsamic vinegar available at Whole Foods. (Napa Valley brand is a clean product). When we were living in the States we bought a wonderful BV from Napa Valley aged for 8 years in cherry oak. Price was below $10 a bottle and the taste was great. It was also thick which you ideally want for a BV

    Comment #7: I have used Costco olive oil and I bought it in a dark glass bottle. Maybe you should look for it again. It is indeed very tasty olive oil. I will buy it again.

    How about Greek olive oil in the tin? Is that safe as well?

  11. cindy says:

    corning, california:

    the olive capital of the world!

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