In Italy, olive oil is given to babies from the age of five months, drizzled over a simple dish of vegetable broth thickened with rice flour and Parmesan. Gradually, as their palates develop, chicken, rabbit and other light white meats are also introduced. In Italian primary schools, youngsters are given olive oil and bread at break. It's fair to say that a predilection for – not to mention emotional attachment to – olive oil is in the Italians' DNA, and established long before wine.

What, I wonder, is the equivalent for Scottish children? Porridge? Beremeal rusks? Lentil soup? Or a 99p steak bake?

Just like Scots and their traditional diet, Italians’ attachment to this ancient traditional food is weakening. Witness the rise and rise of the fake extra virgin oil that bears the Italian flag on its label but actually originates from high-yield trees in Spain and is bottled in Bristol. It emerged last week that Italian olive oil producers are under investigation for allegedly passing off lower-quality oils as extra virgin, thus adding fuel to the food fraud scandal that persists even after it was discovered in 2012 that some of the largest producers had adulterated domestic oil with less expensive imports from Spain, Greece, Morocco and Tunisia. Ancient Spanish olive trees were ripped up by General Franco, to be replaced by high-yield plants that produce fruit with high acidity and low levels of polyphenol micronutrients. At the moment there are no laws to protect the small independent organic growers.

They are able to do so because of consumer ignorance about what extra virgin olive oil should taste like. Extra virgin oil comes from the first press and has a maximum acidity of 0.8%. Virgin olive oil is of slightly lower quality and has a more acidic flavour.

Another serious threat to Italy, where olives have been grown for 5000 years, is the olive oil coming from vineyards in California, New Zealand, Australia and other New World wine producing regions. As most olive oil is grown on vineyards, there's no reason why wine producers everywhere can't diversify. The argument that this democratises olive oil, making it less expensive and more affordable, is undeniable – so long as consumers know what they’re buying and what they’re being served in restaurants.

The challenge for independent Italian producers is how to crank up consumer awareness of the benefits of their small-batch, artisanal, organic, top quality oil and get the “quality over quantity” message across.

To this end a small group of Tuscan olive oil producers from the Capezzana, Felsina, Selvapiana and Fontodi estates flew to Edinburgh and Glasgow last week courtesy of Liberty Wines and Contini Ristorante in Edinburgh to present to Italian restaurateurs the most extraordinary range of high-quality extra virgin oils from this year's olive harvest in the Chianti region, in an area between Siena and Florence.

One producer told me the harvest began on October 19. These oils had literally just been extracted in the last week and they could not wait to show them off because last year's crop was a wash-out thanks to the devastation caused by a fruit fly infestation. The 2015 harvest augurs well and, though some of the young oils still had "potential", the range of flavours and notes from each estate, even in such proximity to each other, was astonishing. It all came down to the region's unique "terra" and to the long inherited knowledge of the producers.

Most unusually, the oils were served in wine glasses, each glass depicting a different oil, as in a wine tasting.Their colours ranged from yellow to dark green. Swirled against the glass, some were more viscous than others and dripped down long and slow, while the more delicates ones didn't stick at all. They ranged from peppery, spicy, fruity to grassy to sweet to bitter.

The olives are hand-harvested as soon as the leaves on the tree turn from green to brown, as this is when there is a high charge of polyphenols into the fruit. They are pressed within four hours and labelled with the variety, the area is was grown in, the year of production and the polyphenol, acidity and Vitamin E content.

There are 350 olive varieties in Italy, of which 15-20 are in Tuscany, and 300 million olive trees throughout Italy. A stonking 90% of Italian olive oil is produced in the large estates of Puglia, Calabria and Sicily; Tuscany contributes only 2% of the country’s production.

The Tuscan producers see this as an “unbelievable” opportunity to get their green and trustworthy credentials across to consumers who are fed up with being duped by the big boys. They believe their authentic extra virgin oil should be a central part of a dish as well as a condiment.

These producers played their cards convincingly, calling on the “divine” and “immaterial” connection to the olive tree, reminding us of the humanity of the artisan, organic production process which protects the soil not only for our generation but for our children’s generation.

Food for thought for the next time you buy a bottle of olive oil or eat in an Italian restaurant. Read the label, and remember that knowledge is power.