Canola

CANOLA, one of the newest commodities grown in the four-state region, is mainly raised for edible oil production. Canola was developed in Canada from rapeseed; a crop raised as a source of industrial oil. Very little rapeseed oil was used for human consumption due to high levels of anti-nutritional factors called erucic acid and gluconsinates. Canola oil, which contains much lower levels of these compounds, is also known as low-erucic acid rapeseed oil. It was approved for food use in the United States in 1985. Because it is perceived as a "healthy" oil, its use is rising steadily both as a cooking oil and in processed foods. The consumption of canola oil is expected to surpass corn and cottonseed oils, becoming second only to soybean oil. It is low in saturates, high in monounsaturates, and contains a high level of oleic acid. Many people prefer the light color and mild taste of canola oil over olive oil, the other readily available oil high in monounsaturates. Canola is one of the easiest plants to genetically engineer and designer canolas are expected to be the wave of the future. In 1996 laurate canola was planted in Minnesota and North Dakota for the first time. This variety serves as an alternative domestic source for tropical oils and petroleum products. The oil can be used in soaps and detergents and other niche markets. Canola meal is used for livestock feed.