Four years ago, Saskatchewan crop farmer Colin Rosengren was lured to North Dakota after hearing about an ancient grain used to make biodiesel fuel. The camelina sativa traces back 3,000 years to northern Europe and parts of Central Asia, but had never been approved for consumption in Canada's domestic market.
Right away, Mr. Rosengren saw potential in the pea-shaped seed's fatty acid content and its versatility as a cooking oil. It was then that he ditched his plans of growing fuel. Instead, he joined forces with local Midale, Sask., crop-growers Ron Emde and Dan Vandenhurk to found Three Farmers, a camelina oil company.
The golden oil contains an exceptional amount of omega-3 fatty acids – as much as 45 per cent – and a high vitamin E content, making the oil stable and resistant to heat. In fact, its smoke point of 475 F is far higher than that of olive oil (325 F) and grape seed oil (425 F), which means it's ideal for high-heat cooking. The vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and allows for a longer shelf life – 12 months – without refrigeration. (By comparison, olive oil has only a six-month shelf life, and vegetable oils tend to congeal four to six months after opening.)
The Three Farmers like keep things local: Each bottle has a code that allows customers to trace the oil to the exact field the seed came from in southern Saskatchewan.
But as for the most important characteristic? It tastes nutty and green all at once, like almonds wrapped in a blanket of leafy lettuce. No wonder that every month since March, when the oil was officially launched on the market, sales have increased 20 per cent. A new oil boom has arrived.
A bottle of camelina oil will set you back $24.99 and it can be found specialty food shops ( threefarmers.ca).
Special to The Globe and Mail