By Tricia Phelps
The popularity of canola oil is on the rise amid reports of its health benefits. On the heels of our two stories of specialty oil processors in Traverse City two weeks ago, we wanted to keep you apprised of the trend, one that arguably was started by TLD partner B&B Farms.
Dan and Bonnie Blackledge own B&B Farms on more than 500 acres of land in Marion, Michigan, just at the edge of our region’s boundary in Osceola County. Of that lot, 40 original acres have been in Dan’s family for more than 100 years.
In 2007, B&B Farms began working with Michigan State University to plant 20 acres of canola for a bio-fuels project. Dan and Bonnie worked closely with MSU Extension and the Crops & Soil Science Department to experiment with canola seed variety trials and soil fertility. It turns out that the sandier soils of northern Michigan offer very favorable conditions for growing canola.
After the initial research with MSU, B&B Farms began increasing canola crop production by 20 acres a year. Today, B&B can average about 40 bushels of canola per acre on 100 acres. That’s around 4,000 bushels of canola annually that they process exclusively in an on-site commercial kitchen facility.
Dan and Bonnie phased out of growing canola for bio-fuels around 2010 and now they grow 100 acres of canola exclusively for their all-natural, cold-pressed canola oil. They are strong supporters of sustainable agriculture and are currently in the process of getting MEAP certified. The cold-pressed process retains even more of the beneficial nutrients of canola and ensures that B&B’s product is of the highest quality. High-temperatures in typical commercial processing rids the finished product of canola’s unique flavor and nutty fragrance; canola oil also has proven health benefits.
Experts say that by eating fewer saturated fats, you can significantly lower your risk of heart disease—one the top five leading causes of death in the United States. Canola oil has 7 percent saturated fat content, lowest on the scale when compared to other commonly consumed oils like sunflower oil (13% saturated fat) and olive oil (15% saturated fat). Canola oil also is very high in healthy unsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6. Dan and Bonnie have fully-embraced natural foods after becoming familiar with the benefits of canola and they substitute their canola oil for cooking whenever oil or butter is needed.
YouTube video courtesy North Central Sustainable Ag Research and Education
You can find B&B Farms all-natural, cold-pressed canola oil, distributed by Cherry Capital Foods and at local retailers including Oryana Natural Food Co-op. You can also visit their website http://www.canolaoilproducts.com/