I am deep into reading "Mangoes and Curry Leaves," the newest Alford-Duguid cookbook. It is a delightful book and very motivating. Lots of the lovely recipes I am considering cooking for the family in the next few weeks seem to require mustard oil. Before I set off to the local Bangledesh grocery, I check the book's glossary to make sure I am buying the right kind of mustard oil.
Imagine my surprise to read that most mustard oil found in my store will say "not for internal consumption" but that its the stuff I'm supposed to buy anyway. Huh?!!!
I go to the store, buy a small bottle along with everything else [the particular brand I bought does say not for internal consumption but also says from Germany and packaged in the UK] and go home to research on the internet.
I find conflicting info and none of it is particularly clear, concise or recent. Apparently although people in India and the rest of the subcontinent have been using and consuming mustard oil for millenium, there are-maybe but not necessarily some potential problems related to health. One contingent argues that mustard oil contains some type of fatty acid that is very bad for you. But another contingent says that its a conspiracy to stop people in the subcontinent from using cheap and locally produced oil. And then there are your typical tales of tainted cooking oil which seem to lend fuel to both fires. Worse yet, most of what I am reading seems to be at least five years old.
I am one of those who avoids letting my family eat anything with high fructose corn syrup. I find myself conflicted. Is mustard oil one of those problems only if you are drinking it by the gallon? Will cooking food with mustard oil in it have a detrimental affect on my family? Or is this really a giant agri business urban legend designed to sell more soybeans? Can I make my own mustard oil by infusing peanut oil or is that [as it seems] a totally different thing? If I buy mustard oil produced in the EU am I safer?
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