Michigan company produces natural canola and sunflower oils

Add cooking oils to the growing list of Michigan-grown and processed specialty products.

Photo credit: Grand Traverse Culinary Oils
Photo credit: Grand Traverse Culinary Oils

What are some of the specialty food items that come to mind when you think of “Made in Michigan” products? Surely, your list contains jams, jellies or baked goods containing Michigan apples, cherries or blueberries, as well as wines and juices made from Michigan’s many grape varieties. But, what about natural Michigan-made cooking oils? If these were not on your mental list, that is about to change.

Consumers need only to look to Traverse City, Mich. to source Michigan-grown and processed culinary oils from Grand Traverse Culinary Oils. According to their website, their oils are produced from non-GMO (non-genetically modified organisms) canola and sunflower seeds grown locally by their own farmer friends and are “100% natural, totally unaltered in any way.”

So, what are cooking oils and what is their relationship to our daily diet? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from many different plants and from fish.

The USDA reports that oils are not a food group, but they do provide essential nutrients and are therefore included in USDA recommendations for what to eat. However, they only recommend consuming small amounts of oils. Oils are the major source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in the diet. Polyunsaturated fats contain some fatty acids that are necessary for health – called "essential fatty acids. In addition to the essential fatty acids they contain, oils are the major source of vitamin E in typical American diets.

Canola oil is the third-largest source of vegetable oil in the world after soybean oil and palm oil, and use is continuing to grow, according to the USDA. In the United States, canola oil is used in frying and baking applications, and is an ingredient in salad dressings, margarine and a variety of other products.

Grand Traverse Culinary Oils’ website boasts, “All oils are produced utilizing a cold press process. The seeds are put through a press and the oil is squeezed out. Then the oil is simple filtered and bottled – ready for you. We don’t use any chemicals in our oil extraction process. No hexane is used to separate oil from the seeds.”

For those looking for information on selecting, using and storing cooking oils, Michigan State University Extension provides consumer information about cooking with heart healthy oils.

So, the next time you get the opportunity to brag about the diversity of Michigan-grown and processed products, be sure your list includes culinary oils.

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