Ask just about anyone to pass the EVOO and they’ll know that you’re talking about the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
It’s the primo pick for many, sitting on the counter at-the-ready to be used for cooking, dressings, marinades and more. It’s hard to compete with the virtuoso of EVOO, but Canada does have an oil that rivals even the best olive oil.
With origins reaching as far back as pre-WWII when engineers were striving to reserve fuel and find grease for machines, they turned to rapeseed oil. It doesn’t mix with water whatsoever, so it made for a great oil to grease steam engines.
At the end of the war, there was a surplus, but it tasted horrible and was so bitter that even animals wouldn’t eat the rapeseed meal. Canadian scientists in Saskatchewan and Manitoba worked tirelessly, and used traditional selection methods to breed a plant that would produce a healthy, edible oil product; and so Canola was born.
Tanya Pidsadowski has been with the Alberta Canola Council for 5 years, and is dedicated to engaging with the public to educate us on the benefits of adding Canola oil to our daily routines. She has a degree in human nutrition and has been farming with her husband for 25 years.
She shared her wealth of knowledge to enlighten us on the full value of appreciating this locally grown, healthy product that supports a sustainable agricultural economy. “Can” as in Canada and “ola” as in oil, is grown all across our beautiful country by Canadian farmers and it’s processed in Canada too. It’s on every shelf in every grocery store, but is it in your pantry?
Canola oil is a beautifully balanced, nutritious oil. It’s rich in omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, low in saturated fat, and is a source of Vitamins E and K. But it’s not just nutritious, it’s extremely versatile too.
Its mild flavour allows it to be an exceptional carrier for other flavours, making it a great choice for salad dressings, marinades, cooking, even baking. If that wasn’t enough, it also boasts a high smoke point so it can stand up to the heat of searing and frying. And it’s very affordable. You can use that oil for errrrything!
Looking for an oil that can contend with EVOO in flavour, aroma, and colour? Cold-pressed canola oil is a high-quality local product that celebrates the prairies. Many believe that you can detect the terroir of cold-pressed Canola much like that of wine.
Highwood Crossing and Mountainview Farm both produce a premium canola oil that is cold-pressed (meaning the seeds are not heated and do not come in contact with any other products). In contrast to mainstream Canola seeds that are warmed slightly to encourage oil extraction and enhance the crushing process. Cold-pressed Canola oil is best used as a finishing touch and in dishes where you can appreciate and applaud the flavour of the oil.
Canola is remarkably stable, making it useful in a variety of food products, like mayonnaise, coffee whitener, cake mixes, and bread. But it can also be found in places you’d probably never guess.
It’s an effective component in printer ink, airplane de-icer, dust depressants, and plastic wrap. The canola meal that remains after the seed has been pressed and the oil extracted, makes for nutritious livestock feed and fertilizer.
And if you’re a mindful consumer (and we’re sure you are), then you’ll be pleased to learn that local farmers are committed to protecting the land. There are 14,000 Canola farmers in Alberta alone producing some of the best Canola in the world.
They employ agronomic practices to bring soil back to a nutrient-rich state so that the land is healthy enough to produce superior crops year over year. This crop efficiency means there is less tillage of the soil allowing the ground to capture and sequester more carbon thereby releasing less into the atmosphere.
These farming practices allow for high-yielding, nutritious crops with a tiny environmental footprint. Canada has such superb, safe farming practices that we produce far more than we can consume. Canadian farms export 90% of the Canola we grow injecting billions of dollars into our economy.
Canola oil is a nutritious local product that celebrates and honours our land in a safe and profitable way. Its widespread utility makes it useful in countless applications. It’s budget-friendly and widely available so everyone can enjoy it. And Alberta produces exceptional artisanal varieties too.
I’m ready to swap out my EVOO for Canola oil, are you?