So do you use Wesson vegetable oil? I know my family did for years. In fact, I remember the days when Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson pitched the vegetable oil regularly. Does this print ad jog your memory? Yes, Wessonality!
Indeed, the 60’s and 70’s were the heyday for processed food. I call it the Tang Era. In those days, processed foods were still new, innovative … and in the case of Tang … space age. Somehow chemicals, artificial ingredients, preservatives and fortification ruled vs. Mother Nature. Heck, Chiffon margarine even mocked Mother Nature. Remember?
A lot has happened since those days. Trends like “fat free” and “low carb” have come and gone, and in their place they’ve left a more skeptical consumer. In many ways, today’s marketplace has taken a complete, 180 degree turn from the 70’s. Nowadays consumers don’t trust processed food companies, so claims like “natural” and “organic” are driving growth. A recent report of grocery purchases shows that “U.S. sales of natural/organic food and beverages grew 9%, to nearly $39 billion.”
Never ones to give up, however, many processed food companies have been stretching and abusing the claim “All Natural” to help grow their own business – hence my series “All Natural … Really?” Now I’m not sure exactly when Wesson hitched itself to the “All Natural” trend, but the fact that they do is alarming for two reasons. First, most vegetable oils, including Wesson, are processed by chemical extraction. Solvents like petroleum-derived hexane apparently produce much higher yields than the traditional, mechanical extraction techniques. Second, Wesson oils are made with genetically-modified ingredients (corn, soybeans, or rapeseed – aka canola) in the manufacturing of their oils.
So in what way is Wesson Oil “natural”? To be honest, I can’t think of one, and it appears that there are quite a few people that agree with me since ConAgra (owner of Wesson Oil) is now facing two class-action lawsuits recently filed in New York and California. Perhaps the old Chiffon commercial had the “lesson” right after all … “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”
Now if you are a regular user of Wesson or other popular brands like Crisco or Mazola (both of which also use chemical extraction processes and genetically-modified ingredients) you may be wondering, what should I use instead? Certainly there are lots of different opinions on this question, but here is what do. First, I always try to buy organic. Second, I select from one of the oils on the chart below depending on what I’m making since some oils withstand heat better than others. Also it’s important to note that although these oils may be “safer” to use than Wesson, you still need to eat a balanced diet where fats and oils are used judiciously.
If you want to share your point of view or add some additional thoughts, please click on the “comment” section below. Also, thanks go out to Renae Maslonkowski, one of my Facebook page fans, for the idea for this installment of my on-going series “All Natural … Really?”
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