Cooking with Cottonseed Oil: Another Elevator in the Outhouse

I have to admit, I don’t always read labels like we all should. Sometimes I’m too busy or distracted. Doesn’t matter. I have to disconnect from whatever is occupying my attention and make the time. When I pick up some food packages I see in the list of

oils cottonseed, palm and palm kernel oils. I’ll deal with palm oil later. It’s the cottonseed oil that set off a “redder” alert for me. Over the years a voice has quietly tried to tell me that this oil shouldn’t be in my food. Again I haven’t been a good listener.

In talking with Mom I found out how we get from cotton boll to cotton seed to cottonseed cakes and cottonseed oil. Back in the day, workers picked the cotton; the cotton was taken to a gin; the seed was separated from the cotton; the cotton was baled and shipped; then the seed was sent to a cottonseed mill where the fun stuff happens. The process is not too much different now, except that many of those workers have been replaced with machines and magic cottonseed from Monsanto that is supposed to grow herbicide ready, pest-resistant plants. There is video of how that’s working out for farmers in India so we don’t need to get into that. People went to the cottonseed mill and bought oil and some of the mill stores gave cottonseed cakes to the kids. Well I’ve never been to a cottonseed mill and with what I’ve read on the stuff I won’t be going anytime soon.

We’ll skip stuff like pesticide residue in the oil and get to the really weird…Cottonseed oil contains Gossypol, which is under research as a male oral contraceptive.

Supposedly gossypol, which is a natural toxin in cottonseed oil, is removed from all commercially available oil. With all the food recalls for e-coli and other problems I have a hard time believing that the toxin is never present in the oil. This should raise more questions than I see being asked. How do we know the toxin, even if injested in trace amounts, doesn’t have a cumulative effect? How many men are being affected and don’t know it?

This oil is in more and more processed foods and is hard to get away from. The way to the solution is awareness. Read the labels. Try to find substitute products that you are willing to consume. Get the recipes and cook the stuff yourself. Consume more of the good oils to balance the amount of high-tech lard that you’re eating. One solution is for the bio-diesel companies and anyone wanting to make it themselves to switch from corn and/or sunflower oils to cottonseed oil. That way we can put the corn back in the cornbread.

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