Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Food of the Month Club - March

Here are my notes for this month at Trinity.

In addition, I'm challening the congregation to donate 40 bottles of oil (pints or larger) - a much asked for and rarely available item at the food pantry. 

The Food of the Month for March is

Cooking Oil

Many of the FISH food pantry’s clients ask for it, but it’s rarely donated and unavailable for inexpensive purchase from the Redwood Empire Food Bank. So usually the answer to requests is “Sorry.”

For the billion or more food insecure people in the world, two of the staples we take for granted and often have too much of, sugar and oil, are luxuries. Prices for oil will continue to rise as more of the crops from which it is sourced are diverted to bio-fuels, and more land is devoted to raising bio-fuel and animal feed crops.

Here are some FAQs about purchasing oils.
Are there local choices?
Local oils - olive, actually - are usually too expensive for most of our budgets. (But a wonderful treat when used to dress salads or other vegetables.)

Which oils are from genetically engineered crops? Any corn, soy or canola oil which is not labeled organic, or any “vegetable” oil, which may also contain cottonseed oil, will be from GM crops. Words like “natural” and “real” on labels are meaningless.
Whole Foods’ 365 store brand, Safeway O-organics, and Trader Joe’s own label are all good choices of value for money. Google the “True Foods Shopper’s Guide” if you want more information on GMO free products.

What about other environmental concerns? Avoid palm oil unless it’s certified organic. Since regulations regarding trans fats went into effect, palm oil, which is solid at room temperature without hydrogenation, has been used more and more, resulting in the destruction of tropical forest habitat. Orangutans and many other species which are less conspicuous are endangered because of this trend.

What are the best choices for health? Advice on which fats to choose seems like the shifting sands. One thing that’s been consistent for some decades is the recommendation to choose cooking oils high in mono-unsaturated fats. Common ones are sunflower, safflower, peanut and olive. Did you know that coconut and palm oils are higher in saturated fat than butter?

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