Daffodils herald the Spring and these days and Rapeseed the promise of Summer.
But this is a fairly recent addition to the English countryside isn’t it; pretty much non existent 10 years ago?
In my book it is a welcome one from an aesthetic viewpoint, with great swathes of gold brightening up even the dullest of days.
In Shropshire, my county, there seems to be a little more rapeseed every year and it moves around, so different fields pop up as yellow, changing the landscape always in a beautiful way.
I love the look of this stuff, but know little about it and why it is now everywhere, is it a good thing?
Apparently Rapeseed oil (also known as Canola) was originally used in the motor industry, OK!
But these days with Jamie Oliver extolling it’s virtues as a (supposedly) healthier alternative to olive oil and with a distinctive nutty taste, sales are booming; providing farmers with a useful cash crop.
It has a high burning point, which means it will retain flavour if used to cook roasties, it has half the saturated fat of olive oil, and more Omega 3, 6 and 9 than other vegetable oils. And it is “local”, Shropshire oil has a distinctive regional character they say…hmm?
Not much else grows in a rapeseed field, you would think due to the use of pesticides, but then I have seen posts saying little pesticide is used? I have seen detractors say it is an insect repellent; but there were bees, butterflies and other insects in the field near my house this morning?
The method of extracting the oil is questioned and some people claim all sorts of detrimental health affects? I don’t know? Looks pretty though!
As far as the supply demand goes, it is third in the world as a resource for Vegetable Oil (first and second are soybean and palm oil respectively) and second in the world for protein meal.
Rapeseed was planted and cultivated as far back as 4000BC in India, it then spread to Japan and China a couple of thousand years later.
The latin name for the flower is Brassica napus. The word rape in the case we use it here (Rapeseed) actually comes from the latin ‘Turnip’.
For a few weeks every year at the beginning of Summer, the fields of Shropshire and of course much of Britain, turn yellow. The contrast of blue skies and fields of yellow van heighten the mood enormously.