Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Selling Snake Oil


A bit of a rant to start with; really Waitrose (the supermarket subsidiary of John Lewis, they of the heart warming adverts) we expect better of the company that likes to pitch its self, as a cut above the rest, the favoured store for the middle classes .


The label on this jar of sundried tomatoes (I told you we were talking middle class) is sneaky, contains more weasel words than it does extra virgin olive oil


Yes folks, a measly 3% extra virgin olive oil. Read the label on the back

sundried 2

And you can see those sun kissed tomatoes are dunked in 47% sunflower oil, not luxuriating in a bath of extra virgin olive oil, as a quick glance of the label might suggest. (Waitrose artichoke hearts and sliced peppers share the same sunflower fate and  label pretensions). I wonder if the food boffins at Waitrose could convince us that 3% extra virgin olive oil brings anything to this product other that the words to the label?


I found an all together more genuine product, in the form of ancient bottle of  oil of eucalyptus when sorting mums house,  by the age of it, I suspect she and dad had themselves acquired it from a previous house clearance of an elderly aunt.

Pugh Buxton

I thought I’d see if it had retained its qualities, Sadly I broke the cork in the process (see I was right to be cautious of bottle tops)  but I didn’t need to go any further, it does still pack a punch of eucalyptus.

Pugh Buxton 2 

The dispensing chemist, Edgar Pugh of Buxton was mayor of Buxton in 1927 and the beautiful shop (which really needs to be photographed for this blog some day) is still a dispensing chemist, the historic shop and interior are listed, so thankfully haven’t suffered the same fate as Finlay McKinlay.


Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

6 thoughts on “Selling Snake Oil

  1. Very cheeky! If you look on the labels of many ‘Italian’ products, like pesto, you’ll often find a laughable percentage of olive oil compared to what the label would have you believe (and this happens a lot in Italy too!).

  2. Ideal for rubbing into the chest….the eucalyptus oil that is. I often wonder whether the supermarkets have little meetings where people sit round in circles and chortle as they think of wheezes to deceive the customers.

  3. At least it says 3% on the front of the jar, and fairly obviously too.

    A high proportion of olive oil (of whatever virginity) is not compatible with “refrigerate after opening”, as a lot of food stuffs are these days. Olive oil starts to freeze at typical fridge temperatures.

    In fact even temperatures a little higher than fridge temperatures will effect olive oil. At a branch of a supermarket I know, belonging to a chain liked by Alan Coren “because they keep the riffraff out of Waitrose”, olive oil was kept opposite a chiller cabinet and was usually visibly cloudy.

  4. I bet that there’s plenty of items like that if we looked at the labels closely. I feel that it’ s all so unnecessary.
    The eucalyptus bottle looks much more interesting, as are the links. xx

  5. In a previous employment incarnation (15 years ago) I was a qualified Trading Standards Officer working in several London Boroughs. My family are sick to the back teeth of me reading the ingredients lists then muttering about ‘bloody fraudsters’. If they were obliged to scale the font as per the percentage of that specific ingredient then we would all have a far better idea of exactly what we were buying.

    At least when I bring something home from the allotment I know exactly what it is.

    Bah humbug, mutter mutter mutter.

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