May 16th, 2005



Rapeseed sounds so wrong. Which is probably why, in America, the product it provides us with is most often referred to as Canola. Canola is only one kind of rapeseed, however, and the name is made up. Canola was developed in Canada and its name is a contraction of "Canadian oil, low acid." Rapeseed is the third most important source of vegetable oil in the world, after soybean and palm oil. During the past twenty years, it has passed peanut, cottonseed, and most recently, sunflower, in worldwide production. But it's used in lots of other products, many of them non-food-based.


The name, rapeseed, comes through Middle English from the Latin rapa, rapum, meaning turnip. There are 2 rapeseed species, Brassica napus and Brassica Rapa. Brassica napus is also called Swedish Rape, which I would file under "bizarre" if not for the fact that rutabagas are often referred to as swedes, and since a rutabaga is a kind of turnip, it's all starting to make a weird, ouroboros kind of psycho sense.

Since it appears that the rape plant is mainly cultivated for its seeds, one wonders (if one is me) just what they DO with all those turnips and rutabagas. Especially when you consider that something like 33 MILLION TONS of rapeseed was produced worldwide in 2002. Apparently, nothing, or at least nothing that I could find while researching. Rapeseed is related to cabbage and broccoli, and the mustard plants as well.

Rapeseed, when it's in flower, smells mightily. It smells oily and heavy, and fills your nostrils to the exclusion of all else. But, like it's doing now all over Skåne...when it's waist-high and flowering, a glowing, golden carpet of the most neon-bright yellow as far as the eye can see, who cares?


Cracking Me Up: Mea Culpa

Also Cracking Me Up: Innovative Products

(photos found via Google Image search)