Everyday, we cook in our kitchens with the intent of putting food on the table and feeding our bodies. However, has it ever occurred to you that such a seemingly simple act has a potentially large impact on the environment?
An everyday food item that we use and consume is cooking oil, which is derived mostly from plants. The continued production of cooking oils to meet increasing demand has put a strain on ecosystems and the natural habitats of these plants, and many consumers are becoming more aware of this issue.
So how can you tell if the cooking oil you consume does not continuously harm nature?
Proper agricultural practices
To ensure that you are using eco-friendly cooking oil, check for conscientious and prudent agricultural methods. Historically, cooking oil such as those derived from plants like palm trees have caused widespread deforestation and ecological imbalance. Farmers plant and harvest indiscriminately, destroying the natural soil cycle. Even the farming of olive trees, which yield olive oil, have been found to cause soil erosion if groves are not managed properly.
Farmers today are more conscious of meeting the demand of manufacturers and even end-users without harming the natural rhythm of nature and forcing crop growth. Countries where oil-producing plants are grown are becoming more aware of the need to improve the way they tend their traditional produce. Italy, where many family-owned olive groves can be found, still remains to be where the best olive oil comes from.
Avoiding pesticides and going organic
Similar to the growing preference for organic sources of food, more and more consumers are also clamoring for cooking oils that are similarly sourced from plants and soil that were not applied with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. These are among the best practices these days in ensuring that you get cooking oil that is certified eco-friendly.
Coconut oil suppliers in the Philippines are aware of this. They take full advantage of the fact that coconuts hardly need pesticide and, because caring for the trees is done mostly by hand, coconut farms do not use up a lot of fuel. Such practices limit the environmental impact of coconut farms.
Meanwhile, in choosing vegetable oils such as canola and sunflower, it would be helpful to look for non-genetically modified products. Such oils derived from seeds are usually mass manufactured using GMO crops—a choice that usually inhibits the natural genetic diversity of plants as well as increases the need for pesticides and other chemical interventions in the long run. Going eco-friendly means choosing and consuming vegetable oils from natural and non-GMO sources as much as possible.
Cooking oil manufacturing
It might interest you to know that even the way that the cooking oil is manufactured itself may have implications toward its being eco- as well as health-friendly. Oil is usually obtained by extracting or expressing it from various parts of a plant, such as the seeds or nuts. In the case of coconut oil, it is taken from the flesh of the fruit or the pulp. Among the safer and most ideal methods of obtaining the oil is through pressing. You may have heard the term cold-pressed especially among olive oil products. This means that mechanical tools were used to expel the oil from the seed or nut.
Extraction, meanwhile, is a process that usually involves the use of a chemical called hexane. It is a solvent and type of cleaning agent that is unfortunately harmful for those who come into contact with it, which are usually the plant workers. Thus, this is an important consideration when going for truly eco-friendly cooking oils.
Eating for the Environment
We all consume cooking oil and we strive to always get the best types that are good for our bodies. Many advocates these days are raising an alarm on how eco-friendly cooking oils may be, and rightfully so, because we may no longer be eating for our own health alone but surprisingly, for the health of the environment as well. The cooking oil that we patronize and consume also has a long-term effect on the earth’s natural resources, which is why we always need to make the right, informed choice, especially when it comes to what we eat.