Pass (on) the canola oil please

I’m all for knowledge.

In my home, I control what fats we use. Some of the top budget dollars go to properly sourced grass fed/pastured butter and ghee. Unrefined coconut and palm oils, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, avocado oils, and so on and so on. When we dine out, (which incidentally is happening less and less these days) we are at the mercy of the oils and fats the restaurant uses. One inquires and makes decisions based on the information provided. Hats off to the servers who have the knowledge or go ask the questions. Thank you for going above and beyond. It is appreciated.

One should never stop learning and one should always be open to hearing another viewpoint. I came across this clip on how canola oil is produced. This video is not a “hate on canola oil” production. It is taking us through the refinement stage from seed to bottle in a matter-of-fact narrative. The opening comment states canola oil is one of the best cooking oils available. Lowest level of saturated fat. More healthy omega 3 fatty acids and is high in mono-unsaturated fat. One would almost believe this was a healthy choice if they quit the video there. I won’t poke holes in those claims today. Maybe another day.

From here we see the many steps of refinement. I won’t repeat each step, because, well, you are capable of watching the video again if you felt so inclined. But, let’s hit the highlight reel. Washing the flattened canola cake for 70 minutes in a solvent (mmm, ok) to extract more oil. A 20 minute wash in sodium hydroxide. Let’s flash back to high school science for a moment. NaOH is lye or caustic soda by another name. This stuff can also be used to break down tissue and make bones brittle enough to be crushed into powder with your fingers. Many a criminal in history has used this chemical compound to break down a body to make evidence (almost) disappear. The canola oil is bleached to lighten the colour. Steam is used for deodorization.

The by-products during the refinement process include:

  • cattle feed (from the “foreign material” in the separation process)
  • soaps (“natural impurities” from the oil after washing in NaOH)
  • vegetable shortening (waxy substance left behind after the lye wash)
  • animal feed (from the solvent-washed canola cake)

The by-products appear to be what was left over after each of the refining stages. The way I interpret this, is those other products are laden in the various chemicals used to process the end product. Isn’t soap supposed to clean our skin? Not wash it with something that could be potentially breaking it down? I’m guessing the soap is refined further to remove those toxins introduced during the canola refinement stage. Cue safer skincare products from companies like Beautycounter.

Another plug for grass-fed/grass-finished/pastured meats when at all possible. The animals are consuming these chemical cocktails. Put your money where your mouth is. You deserve better than factory food.




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