Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
One of the most important staples in your pantry is your cooking oil. What is it? If you buy an organic potato and cook it in GMO oil, it is no longer organic food. It is a GMO potato.
Until several years ago, I had not thought much about my own cooking oils. In 2010 I was hospitalized twice within a three-month period, once in California and once in Birmingham. Both ER doctors diagnosed the episode as a seafood allergy because both days I had eaten lobster. I was told to never eat shellfish again by both doctors. Being a food writer, and a seafood lover, this was pretty devastating news. So I had to have more evidence before swearing off shellfish, but I did not want it to be another reaction.
My allergist set up a series of tests and told me from the start that there was something going on in our food supply that was causing reactions that appeared to be allergic reactions yet were not. So it was possible that it was not a shellfish allergy or an allergy at all. I was delighted when the test results showed no shellfish allergy. Yet I was concerned that I did not know what caused this, not once but twice, and that it still might happen again. Months later, I was exposed to canola oil being sprayed from a can of Pam and had another reaction. Immediately I connected the dots to having eaten foods cooked in canola oil on both days of the other reactions. Speaking with my allergist again, he did extensive research and found a “bad batch” of canola oil had entered the U.S. during this time, which caused reactions similar to my own.
But I wondered, “What is canola oil, anyway?” And I learned that canola oil is actually made from the rapeseed and was changed to canola for marketing purposes. It was originally an industrial oil, used in lubricants, biofuels, and insecticides. Once it was genetically modified rapeseed oil, it was then sold as an edible product. Yet it is one of the most chemically altered oils sold in the U.S. With this knowledge and experience, I have taken oils very seriously. I do not eat foods cooked in canola oil or any GMO oils, including soy, corn, and cottonseed, which are all 90+ percent GMO.
I don’t fry foods often. But when I have a Gulf fish fry or crave French fries, I use La Tourangelle grapeseed oil. I have tried other grapeseed oils but have found none comparable to La Tourangelle. I will not risk ruining my beautiful Gulf fish and organic potatoes with a lesser oil.
La Tourangelle is an authentic and traditional family producer of specialty oils. They craft a wide range of other artisan nut oils, both in France and California. All the La Tourangelle nut oils sold in North America are made in their Woodland, California mill, and most are made from California grown nuts. All of La Tourangelle artisan oils are expeller-pressed and non-GMO. And many, including their grapeseed oil, are USDA organic. Grapeseed oil is also a natural source of linoleic acid, which helps fight heart disease and bad cholesterol.
With a smoke point of 450°F, grapeseed oil is perfect for frying. La Tourangelle’s grapeseed oil should be refrigerated after opening and used within six months of opening. And for spraying pans and our grill (before heating), I use the same oil in La Tourangelle’s all natural, non-aerosol spray. The spray can should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within 12 months of opening.