Ever find yourself standing in the grocery store aisle, squinting at the labels on different cooking oils, and wondering, “What’s the deal with canola oil?” I’ve been there, and I totally get the confusion.
With so many myths and different opinions floating around, I decided to take a deep dive into understanding canola oil and what it means for our kitchen. I learned some pretty interesting stuff, so buckle up, grab a cup of organic coffee, and join me on this journey!
From Cow Chow to Kitchen Staple: The Story of Canola
Did you know that the canola plant started as a meal for cows? Yep, it comes from the rapeseed plant and was full of something called eurcic acid. While cows had no problem with it, it wasn’t the best for human consumption.
So, in the 1970s, scientists rolled up their sleeves and bred a new plant with lower levels of eurcic acid. The result? Canola oil – “CANadian Oil Low Acid.” Kind of cool, right?
The Great GMO Debate
Fast forward a bit and genetic modification came into the picture. The original canola seeds were genetically modified to resist certain chemicals, which gave us GMO canola. Today, there are three types of canola: GMO canola, Non-GMO canola, and Organic canola.
You might hear arguments about which one is best. Honestly, it’s all about understanding what suits your family. GMOs are a risky healthy choice, so best to look for non-GMO or organic labels.
Pressing Matters: How Canola Oil is Made
Getting the Oil Out
When it comes to getting oil out of the seed, there are a couple of methods. There’s conventional solvent expelling (usually for GMO canola), which uses a chemical called hexane, and there’s expeller pressing, which just squeezes the oil out without chemicals.
Here’s Where Heat Comes In
Both methods might involve heat, which can make the oil rancid. It’s something to consider when thinking about the best canola oil for your family. Expeller pressing sounds a bit better to me since it’s a more natural process.
Different Types of Canola Oil: What’s in Your Pantry?
Conventional GMO Canola Oil
Most of the world’s canola is GMO. If you don’t have a problem with that, it’s probably the easiest to find.
Non-GMO Canola Oil
This is made from the original, unmodified seeds. It’s a bit harder to find but still out there.
This one’s non-GMO but with extra organic farming standards. It’s an option if you prefer organic products.
Wrapping Up: What Does It Mean for Your Kitchen?
Canola oil is pretty complex, and understanding it isn’t just about a simple label. There’s a world of differences between GMO, non-GMO, and organic, plus the way the oil is extracted.
If all this information has you scratching your head, don’t worry! The choice between different types of canola oil comes down to what works best for you and your family. Think about your values, preferences, and health considerations. If you want to explore other options, why not try something like coconut oil or animal fats?
At the end of the day, it’s about making informed decisions for your family’s table. And now, we’re all a little more empowered to do just that.
- Russo, Marco et al. “Erucic acid concentration of rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) oils on the German food retail market.” Food Science & Nutrition, vol. 9, no. 7, 2021, pp. 3664-3672, doi:10.1002/fsn3.2327.
- Canola Council. “History of Canola Seed Development.” Canola Council of Canada, https://www.canolacouncil.org/canola-encyclopedia/history-of-canola-seed-development.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GMO Crops, Animal Food, and Beyond.” FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/gmo-crops-animal-food-and-beyond.
- Centra Foods. “The Truth About Organic Canola Oil.” Centra Foods Blog, https://www.centrafoods.com/blog/the-truth-about-organic-canola-oil.
- Penn State Extension. “Oilseed Presses.” Pennsylvania State University, https://extension.psu.edu/oilseed-presses.
- IntechOpen. “Heat Treatment of Edible Oils.” IntechOpen, https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/38471.
- Non-GMO Project. “GMO Feature: Canola.” Non-GMO Project Blog, https://www.nongmoproject.org/blog/gmo-feature-canola/.