MUNDANE MYSTERIES: What Vegetables Are Used To Make “Vegetable Oil”?

If you’re shopping in a grocery store’s baking aisle, you’ll notice that the companies selling 100% corn or peanut oil proudly emblazon the identity of their star vegetables in marquee-sized letters on the label. So, why are they so much more obtuse when it comes to vegetable oil? What mystery veggie (or veggies) do they use to create vegetable oil, and why the secrecy?

It’s natural for consumers, when we see the vague words “vegetable oil” on a label, to assume that the contents of the bottle are either a “bad” oil, like cottonseed, coconut, or palm oil (which cardiologists consistently warn us about), or a blend of several different vegetables.

Well, in fact, until recently most vegetable oils actually were blends. But now, all the major brands like Wesson & Crisco, as well as many generic & store-brand vegetable oils, use 100% soybean oil as the “vegetable” in vegetable oil.

Soybean oil has pretty much all the characteristics of the “good” oils. Yet, here in North America, we still haven’t embraced soybeans (all the while, we’ll happily pay a premium for corn & peanut oil). So, until consumers are convinced that “soybean oil” is more desirable than “vegetable oil”, soybeans will just have to continue to forego their rightful star billing on the label & keep appearing only in the fine print.

But at least you know now what’s in your vegetable oil!

And, if you’ve got a Mundane Mystery you’d like to know about, send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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