* Photo credit: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Canola Eat Well.
One of the best things about blogging is meeting people from a variety of industries that I wouldn’t otherwise meet in my day to day life. I recently spent a day, with some fabulous ladies, learning about canola farming and the use of canola oil in day to day cooking. I’ll confess, our household has always been a olive oil household. I’ve always heard that olive oil was one of the healthiest oil options. However, during the Canola Eat Well “Mamma Mia Farm Tour”, I was surprised to learn that this Canadian produced oil has half the saturated fat of olive oil and is packed with omega 3 fats!
On the tour, I met with Ellen Pruden of Canola Eat Well and a farmer, Jeannette Andrashewski (Alberta), and was inspired by their passion and commitment to the Canadian farming community. The importance of sustainable farming practices and focus on food safety was evident in Jeannette’s discussions with us. The time, energy and passion required for her family farming business was impressive and, as a city person, I was grateful for the opportunity to learn about her family farm and the connection between her work and our food experiences in the city. This educational process is essential to the “Farm to Table” movement.
As part of the day tour, we visited LINK Greenhouse in Bowmanville, Ontario and learned about the farm’s hydroponic farming of lettuce, tomatoes and English cucumbers. It was eye-opening to see vegetables grown in an incredibly clean and pristine greenhouse environment.
After touring the greenhouse, we participated in a seed crushing activity to extract oil from the seeds of a canola plant. Apparently it takes just over 5 Lbs of canola seeds to make 1 litre of canola oil!
We finished off the tour with a fabulous pizza lunch by Chef Victor Barry, formerly of the legendary Splendido restaurant in Toronto and, currently of the highly rated Piano Piano restaurant. This past July, Toronto Life called Piano Piano the “best new restaurant of the summer”.
In addition to the fantastic meal, I also loved the farm-chic tablescape! It’s given me some inspiration for a future BBQ or summer party.
Chef Barry created two fresh salads and 4 types pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven. My favourite salad was his chopped salad with salami, polenta, olives, cucumber and oregano canola oil vinaigrette. I also loved his Caccio e Pepe Pizza featuring fior di latte, ricotta, parmigiano and garlic black pepper canola oil.
He shared with us that he uses canola oil instead of olive oil for cooking in his Italian restaurant. He cites the higher heat point as a reason for the oil’s versatility in cooking. Apparently canola oil is the secret to making his pizza dough crust super crisp!
I’ve definitely been inspired to incorporate canola oil in our cooking because it supports Canadian farmers, is healthy and versatile!
Here are some fun facts. Did you know that…
- There are 43,000 canola farmers in Canada. It’s a critical component of the Canadian economy.
- Farmers like Jeanette and Ellen choose their own seeds and farming processes based on what is best for their land, family farms and long term sustainability. Whether farmers choose to go the organic or GMO route, Jeanette and Ellen advise that Canadian farmers are fortunate to have free choice in this regard.
- Farmers rotate crops on their land to keep the soil disease-free and ensure better yields over time.
- GPS mapping technology helps farmers ensure accuracy in their planting to reduce the use of fertilizers, prevent over-tilling of land and reduce the use of fossil fuels.
- Other conservation and sustainability practices include pumping water back onto their land to conserve water and using the shredded stalk remains after the harvest in their composting for soil nutrients; which also reduces the use of fertilizers and increases the moisture of the soil.
*My Canola Connect experience and this post is sponsored by Canola Eat Well. However, all opinions are my own.