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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oil- the real story!



Ever wondered about Oil? How its made, what is cold pressed? What goes in? how safe is it?
Oh man, it’s a slippery ground..after all its oil!

Oil is such a traditional stuff and has been really old. ever wondered how this value addition could have come about? First man had to identify and grow such oil seeds then explore and discover its oil content and then press or do whatever and  oil! Think of its evolution..
(wo)Man! And here we have so easily corrupted it to the boot, fallen for some advertisement magic and screwed up oil as well as our health. Before that, lets see its etymology- which itself is very interesting. In most languages, the very word oil comes from the popular or local oil seed from which it is extracted! So its from Olive (Italian/Latin) and hence imported to English as same- oil..if you see in Hindi its ‘thel’ coming Till the primary oil seed of yester years in most parts of India. That was also used profusely in medication. Yes, in ayurveda it is still the best for heart ailments and we fall for “cholesterol free’ oils and accumulate fat:-)  In tamil it is ‘ennai’ coming from ellu- again.
Such tradition and evolution has been literally killed, sadly. The modern industry ‘taught’ us to look at dark  coloured, sticky,  oil as untidy and  hateful stuff.
Refined oil, cholesterol free, double refined- what should have been bad words have been glorified by the industry (who else?) and here we are- a race fallen to the advertisements and the grand ploys of industry. What was a simple method of extraction (oh! That’s also a bad word these days) – production of oil has become such a nasty  business. Adulteration is the norm.  ok, because the industry has the gall and guile, it rephrases that word adulteration  to ‘blending’ and brings out a  rule to back its hazardous greedy practices. One such example is the Labeling law!  There the adulteration is replaced with a better euphemism called Blending and then for a concoction of various odourless, colourless oils  where such oils like cotton seed oil (oh! Bt - quo vadis?) or soya oil or rice bran oil or palm oil. Obviously the cheapest oils. Still they framed a rule that helps them to over come this. It really needs such imagination to pull such a fast one, on us ignorant consumers. They were allowed to name/label on oil packets as X oil as long as there was 60% of X in it..so a gingely oil in the market would have only 60% of sesame/gingely oil and the rest could be a mix of the above..thus ‘industrialising’ and ‘legalising’ adulteration.
Ever thought why all these oils are same color (rather colorless) and odourless? To enable this adulteration..
But how come a Till oil which is supposed to be deep brown or dark colour like this? Same for sunflower oil..
Firstly let us see how oil is extracted..Oil is generally got from oil seeds like ground nut, sesame, castor, mustard, rapeseed, sunflower seed etc..they say even mango seeds have some oil content..anyways the easiest oil seeds in the world are the oldest too- gingely and olive..these 2 are incidentally the only ones to yield oil without any heat!
Simply put, these oil seeds are crushed to get oil when they are dry. That’s how it all started..just crushing them in some chakkis/rotary mills. Most oil seeds would yield 35-45 % efficiency.
Oil seeds are to have lot more nutrients other than just fat like proteins and other minerals. That is why Ayurveda says wholesome Till oil as the anti dote for heart ailments. That is if it is wholesome. But in the process to get more, extract more oil and hence more profit, we lost quite a lot, first casualty being health. But who cares, eh?
so the simple rotary where the oil seed was just simply crushed with no heat generated was ideal and that’s how it was till our greed grew. So more heat and machines came to  their rescue. Then chemicals followed, even the hazardous ones like hexane, other solvents and even known carcinogens! Thus the evolution was oil from cold pressed gaanis to expellers to extraction happened. Extraction means the oil will touch 300-400 degrees atleast 3 times. Refined means atleast 6 chemicals come in to play (double refined is literally double!) . The refined oil that has host of chemicals used and hence more residual toxicity has higher smoking point and hence the ignorant us got hooked thinking that’s better.
The oil that is extracted using hexane and other petroleum solvents, is then bleached, deodorized and refined. This involves high temperature as said above and thus all enzymes and most nutrition wud be lost. Then preservatives such as BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoulene) – both are known for harmful effects, are added. Thus a concoction of harmful residues come with the oil but devoid of all life, nutrition etc – all just to increase the shelf life!
So what was an anti dote for heart ailments and what was easily processed and sold in street corner handy oil mills/rotary was industrialized and came with so much harm. Thus resulting in more heart ailments in India after the arrival of packaged refined oils. What did these replace? The cold pressed oil from the gaanis would have had some dirt or particles if the containers weren’t closed intact. That could have caused some diarrhea or such like but this “refined” “untouched by hand” “white” oil brought heart ailments and cancer!
Today cold pressed could come from expellers and not the wooden gaanis/chekkus as these are not in vogue at all. They take special care to ensure the temperature doesn’t raise in the expellers.  So it make sense for us to search for organic cold pressed oil- which is an assured way to get unadulterated and without residual chemicals. Mind you when you pay for 1litre of any oil you get 100% of that in organic!
And they said poly saturated was good in the 1980s. Then they changed to m ono saturated, Then some other industry sponsored study would say un saturated is better. Such confusing statements always come, backed by ‘bought’ science and scientists. With our rat race and don’t care attitudes we hardly notice their u-turns and inconsistencies.
After all our brain is majorly fat and one needs fat for sure. Most of the vitamins are fat soluble and hence one cant say ‘oh this is cholesterol, fat etc’ and avoid oil. But there shud be moderation.
even the canards about coconut oil was an industrial ploy. What a shame that this absolutely healthy oil lost sheen. There is something called lauric acid which builds immunity in our body that is found only in coconut oil other than in mothers milk!
So go organic. These come with such good flavour, aroma and protein. Or atleast buy from simple small chekkus/gaanis/hydraulic press mills. But always use less oil. Ensure Very less deep frying. Never reuse the heated oil.  Oil when packed in plastic containers has a definite leach and hence more pollutants come in to our system- again mostly carcinogens. Also run a mile away from any refined oil for it comes with so much health hazard and even GM as the oil used to blend many times is soya oil and canola from the Americas where both are mostly grown from GM seeds. 

(lets see more in part 2:- its interesting how one great gentleman did all explorations to find how the Canola oil came in to india; also did u know that the recent Bihar deaths in that mid day meals in schools could have been bcos there is a prevalent practice of adding monocrotophos to oil to enhance shelf life and to save it from  going rancid soon; adulteration in coconut oil today and the planned elimination of coconut oil from our plates by industry; closer look on chips and the oils used for them;  heard of acrylamides? Ever burnt a kurkure? Difference between various fats; link to cancer! )

5 Comments:

  • At September 22, 2013 7:14 PM, Blogger Girikumar S said…

    Dear Ananthoo

    That was a very enlightening write up. Not only that it is more informative and i think it will make the readers a double check on the written info. on the oil packets.

    Thank You

     
  • At September 27, 2013 3:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice article. Please provide us sources of cold-pressed oils, there are too many fake-oils. Your point on cottonseed oil from Bt cotton was a surprise to our own GEAC. Wasn't it too convenient that we let biscuit manufacturers to state that the biscuits are made of edible oil, instead of cottonseed oil, so that we could test the "safety" of Bt crops. Now the pro-GM crowd is crowing about the how safe Bt-crops are for human consumption.

     
  • At October 11, 2013 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nicely stated Ananth, Mani

     
  • At October 23, 2013 10:29 AM, Blogger Ananthoo said…

    thx Giri..
    anaon- concerns of GMOs in oil esp from bt cotton seeds or canola/corn oil if its from americas is a big scare..that shall be taken up another day..yes biscuits will ahve these or even worse palm oil/dalda in the name of 'hydrogenated veg oil' or even cotton seed oil and thus are unsafe:(
    thx Mani..(oops, which Mani, may I know?)

     
  • At December 22, 2013 9:45 PM, Blogger Narayanan Alwar said…

    You have aptly described what is in minds. Just yesterday i was discussing on the Olive Oil which has started making appearance in large packages side by side with sunflower oils. Companies are attempting to introduce this imported oil for regular use in India households. What is the need when we already have groundnut oil (totally forgotton). New market creation at work. 100 Ml of olive costs over 115/-. My wife was complaining she did not like the exploitation of housewife's sentiment over "husbands heart" and was reason why she will never buy that.

    It is in the backdrop that i wrote an article http://radhamuralifarms.blogspot.in/2013/12/farming-is-not-about-just-growing-food.html myself about a week back. The solution is simple and available. I wonder why we are like what we are....

     

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