Canola Oil - There is no "Canola" plant

Beaverton, OR

Olive oil comes from olives, peanut oil from peanuts etc. But there is not a "Canola" plant and when you look into the details - it raises more questions than answers. I first became concerned when I read about the dogfood I was feeding to my Aussie(Timberwolf) did not use canola oil because it was bad for their coat (thinning of hair) and I thought well - why would it be o.k. for me and not my dog. Everyone needs to decide for themselves but I would suggest you look into it. And don't spill it on your clothing because it will not come out.

Thumbnail by august2003
Columbus, OH

There are a lot of urban legends about canola. It's rapeseed oil, which isn't a very marketable name. Canola oil does not make dog hair coat thin, FWIW. It isn't a fabulous fatty acid profile to benefit canine skin, fish oils are better.

Snopes has an article on some of the emails that flew around about canola a few years ago. http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/canola.asp


Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

Rape-seed oil is probably much better for me than what I consume at the local Mcdonalds, but less than I would if I cook myself.

Columbus, OH

I use canola oil in cooking relatively frequently. I like the taste of olive oil better, so I use it more. If I want a light oil, canola or sunflower would be among my first choices.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I was just reading that canola, cottonseed and corn oils are much more likely to have genetically-modified components in them. Interesting.

Columbus, OH

Wow, I thought soy was #1 most likely to be GMO. Who knew?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Soy is. But it's not an oil, is it? That's why I didn't mention it. Actually, I just checked and you're right:

http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/SG/TipsforAvoidingGMOs/index.cfm

Columbus, OH

Sure, soy's an oil. Almost everything labeled vegetable oil or shortening is soy(with a little cottonseed), and they're almost all from GMO seed.

That being said, there's a lot of hysteria about what is, or is not, "GMO". Technically, plant breeding is genetic modification, and depending on who you believe and the facts of which plants are genetically modified and how, the whole question can become quite cloudy. I think most people are okay with plant breeding, but less okay with the insertion of genetic material artificially, but that distinction isn't always made, though it is usually (but not always) the case.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I think there's a huge difference between the kind of plant breeding that Mendel did or hybridization, and the insertion of alien genes into a plant to make it resistant to pesticides or to give it some other characteristic that otherwise enhances its ability to deal with our chemicalized farming practices. There's a thread on the Sustainable Alternative forum http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1100567/ that talks about possible impacts on guinea pigs from GMO products.

Crawfordville, FL

I stopped using canola oil about a month ago. After lots of research, I found out exactly what you did...canola is genetically modified, there is no "canola" plant. The word "canola" is used to make the product marketable. I mean, who would want to buy "rape oil"? I now use safflower oil when I fry. It has a high smoke point, which keeps it from breaking down and becoming carcinogenic when I cook with it. The taste is neutral, and it's heart-healthy.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

It's really a shame that we all have to do the research individually, isn't it?

Columbus, OH

True there's no canola plant, but just because people won't buy "rapeseed" and they call it something else doesn't make it intrinsically bad. You can buy organic (I do) and it's not GMO. Heck, if we called butter a lovely mix of oleic, myristic, palmitic and a few other fatty acids suspended in a little water, no one would buy that, either. Blaming whoever came up with Canada Low Acid Oil (see the canola origin in there?) doesn't make it more GMO or less edible--the GMO stuff came later. I think we use scare tactics for the wrong things sometimes, like proclaiming all chemicals bad and scary, that sort of thing.

I am not a big fan of inserting genetic material into plants, anyone with a serious allergy can tell you how scary it is to maybe eat a tomato or a peach and not know that it has blueberry DNA in it, which could very well kill me. Think how close deadly nightshade is to a tomato or a tomatillo. While certainly they do research on the safety of GMO foods, there's a whole lot of conclusions released and not very much study protocol and data, and even fewer people who know how to interpret it.

This message was edited Jun 5, 2010 3:04 PM

Crawfordville, FL

Guess I'm just old-school that way. There's way too much controversy over genetically modified foods for me to feel comfortable eating them if I can help it. Anything with the organic label is not supposed to be genetically modified.

Columbus, OH

I think there is potential to increase disease resistance, and to make foods healthier and less allergenic, but I'm not kidding myself that this is the goal of the majority of GMO. research.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I think we're better off trying to achieve those goals using cross-breeding. Otherwise we're experimenting on ourselves and our kids and grandkids. We have no idea what we're unleashing, and it would be very little consolation to say, "I told you so" if there were dire consequences down the road. So much of what we used to think was safe we now know is not. Anyone remember the x-ray machines in shoe stores so you could see whether the shoes you were trying on left enough room for your toes?

Columbus, OH

It's a hard row to hoe. We want to be cautious enough to be safe, and smart enough not to sacrifice lives for things like severe allergies because we're too scared to do what's needed to avoid them.

While we remember the x-rays for shoes, we should also remember that we had the same skepticism and objections about anesthesia during surgery, bacteria as a cause of disease, and birth control. What if we'd waited three to five generations for a polio vaccine? Smallpox? I don't advocate irresponsibility in research, but simply open-mindedness.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

This is all true and we do need to put things into perspective. I think we need to make sure the risks outweigh the benefits, and that the benefits accrue to those who are taking those risks, not to a conglomerate...

Columbus, OH

I absolutely agree.

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

Since we're talking about fats and oils for cooking I'd like to add my 2 cents. My reading and research has lead me to using ghee and coconut oil (cold pressed) for cooking. The ghee has an ancient history in Indian cooking and the coconut oil has some interesting benefits, too many for me to remember and list here. I use olive oil too but not for cooking. Saturated fats are not all the same and the all inclusive condemnation of saturated fats needs to be revisited, from what I've read. I'm still looking into peanut oil for cooking because of it's high smoke temp. So far, I'm in favor of peanut oil as well.

Columbus, OH

Because I buy large amounts of coconut oil for soaping, they send me all kinds of info about the health benefits of coconut oil, but I'm not convinced it'd behave differently than any other saturated fat.

(Judi)Portland, OR

I mostly use olive oil but if I want an oil with less taste I use grapeseed oil. When I bake gluten-free cakes I use canola oil, but I have to admit that I never stopped to think of where it came from! Sesame oil is great for Asian food, and I use walnut or hazelnut oil for salad dressings.

Frankfort, KY(Zone 6a)

"Canola was developed in the early 1970s using traditional plant breeding techniques by Canadian plant breeders to remove the anti-nutritional components (erucic acid and glucosinolates) from rapeseed to assure its safety for human and animal consumption."
I found the above info at this link "
http://72.32.142.180/info.php?id=154
There is more info on their site.

Dwight

Thumbnail by rentman
Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't like the way canola smells. Other than that, I don't fear eating it.

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

I know this is an old thread, but I thought I would give a little bit of my opinion:
http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats.html

My family only eats grassfed butter, ghee, coconut oil and olive oil.

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

MsKatt my list is much like yours but I find the nut oils to be really great for their flavor contribution in salad dressings and any time oil flavor, other than olive, is desired.

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

I did forget sesame oil, I use it when I make Asian foods. :)

Columbus, OH

I'm deeply in a walnut oil phase at the moment, but I could be easily swayed by sesame-orange salad dressing.

(Judi)Portland, OR

Celene, I agree! I love walnut oil, especially for salad dressings. I don't care for bottled dressings so I make a jar with walnut or hazelnut oil and it keeps for about a week in the refrigerator. I make it with lemon juice, honey, and whole grain mustard. Adjust to your taste. Add the oil last and wisk it in to make an emulsion. The trick is to get a really good walnut oil - it's expensive but oh-so-worth-it!

This message was edited Feb 17, 2011 7:55 PM

Columbus, OH

I'm fortunate, I'm a soap maker so I get gallons of these oils, and that helps reduce the cost.

(Judi)Portland, OR

Lucky you! I didn't realize the oils in soaps are edible. Interesting! I've thought about trying to make walnut oil by putting the nuts in a food processor. I make my own "nutella" type spread and when I process the hazelnuts I always wonder if they would liquify if I kept going.

Columbus, OH

You don't have to use food-grade oils for soaping, but I do. I think the quality is better, I'm more comfortable with them as an ingredient, and I can eat them if I want! I use virgin coconut oil, avocado oil, pistachio oil, hazelnut oil, kukui nut oil, they're all wonderful with the right dish.

To get an oil from the nuts, you have to use pressure to extract it, or a solvent. I was shocked at how many oils produced for food were solvent-extracted, and some of the solvents (like hexane) aren't something I want to remain even residually in my food. Look for expeller-pressed oils.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

So that washing my mouth out with soap when I was a kid was really for nutritional reasons????? ^_^
Doug

Columbus, OH

There's an interesting way to look at it, lol.

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

Healthful cooking, for me, has meant everything from scratch. Making salad dressing has become one of my most creative efforts. I don't yet make my own vinegar but I use many different kinds and often enhance them with fruits or other flavors. The oils are olive or one of the nuts. I have great fun concocting my masterpiece salad dressings. Of course I use them for other things as well. I've started "dressing" fruit too.Oils and vinegars are some of my kitchen essentials and I love to read how everybody else is using them.

Columbus, OH

One warning: Once you start making your own dressing, storebought will become inedible to you.

I like fruit salads that aren't icky sweet, and adding fruit to regular salad. My new favorite is grapefruit and orange segments and pea pods salad, it's sooo good.

(Judi)Portland, OR

Avocado goes great with the grapefruit and orange salad. Now I'm hungry!

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

To me the danger of GMO is that using a virus to carry the modification is commonplace. We dont have a cure for the viruses that plague us now. God forbid somewhere a mistake is made that causes viral disease or hurts our immune system. I do not trust "the business community". Money seems to be their only driving force and they shoot down any consumer protection legislation that comes up. Now business has a new tool, "providing jobs". Here in Texas, they want to build another coal powered electricity plant that will ostensibly provide 200 permanent jobs. It's not so easy now as it used to be to hoodwink the public. People in Brazoria County are fighting this. (Getting down from soapbox now).

Columbus, OH

How do they use viruses to carry the modification? I had no idea.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

For most Genetic modification, the desired DNA to be inserted is manufactured in a bacteria and transferred to the host cell by a bacterial plasmid, a virus-like particle. However, for human cells, nothing works better as a carrier than a virus. Here is a link that might get you started. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/human_engineering.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Have you read Lariann Gardners's article from 2008 about the crawling leaf? It is relevant to this discussion.

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