Canola oil at Whole Foods Market
Canola oil has been the subject of much misinformation over the years, and we’d like to set the record straight.
What is canola oil?
Canola oil comes from a specifically bred variety of rapeseed, which is part of the mustard family along with kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Rapeseed oil has been a part of traditional diets in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, India, Japan, China and Canada for thousands of years.
Myth: All canola oil is GMO (a Genetically Modified Organism)
Actually, the development of canola oil predated genetic engineering by almost 20 years. Canola was bred using traditional plant breeding methods. These methods involve selecting desired traits followed by crossing these traits into existing varieties until the offspring exhibit the desired characteristics. While it is true that canola oil was not originally developed using genetic engineering methods, some forms of canola are genetically engineered today. To avoid genetically engineered canola oil, you can choose organic canola oil, which by definition would not be genetically modified, or canola oil that has been non-GMO verified.
At Whole Foods Market we only use non-GMO canola oil in the prepared foods we make in-house. We also feature many varieties of non-GMO and certified organic canola oil on our shelves.
Myth: All canola oil is extracted with chemical solvents.
Vegetable oils can be extracted by one of two major methods: They can be expeller pressed (a mechanical process which literally squeezes the oil out of the vegetable) or solvent extracted (a chemical process whereby a solvent, usually hexane, is used to remove the oil). At Whole Foods Market, our Quality Standards require that all bottled oils in our stores be expeller pressed. The non-GMO canola oil used in our kitchens is expeller-pressed.
Myth: Canola oil is associated with health problems like… mad cow disease?
We’ve heard from customers who’ve read that canola oil is associated with everything from mad cow disease to glaucoma, but the fact is, none of the purported side effects associated with eating canola oil that we’ve heard about from customers have ever been reported in medical journals.
Why does Whole Foods Market use canola oil in their Prepared Foods?
We use canola oil in many of our Prepared Foods recipes because it is very versatile. Canola is fairly heat stable, so it is suitable for all types of cooking, and it has a neutral flavor, making it suitable for all kinds of dishes. We only use non-GMO, expeller pressed canola oil in all of our in-house Prepared Foods. If you’re looking for alternatives to dishes made with canola oil, please ask a Team Member. Many of our dishes don’t contain canola oil, and Health Starts Here™ dishes contain no added oil at all!
Blog post updated on 2/23/15.