Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yellow Fields - Rapeseed/Raps

Brassica napus

Rapeseed, a large oil crop with a bright yellow flowering is a member of the Brassica family and related to mustard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and turnip. Rapeseed (Brassica napus) is also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rapaseed . The name rapa derives from the Latin for turnip = rapum or rapa, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century.

A golden oil from golden fields.
Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil and biodiesel. Processing of rapeseed for oil production provides animal meal as a by-product which is a high-protein animal feed for cattle and pigs, and a little less for chickens.
There is a big production of cold-pressed rapeseed oil (otherwise known as canola-oil) and rapeseed oil is now the third most important vegetable oil in the world after soybean and palm oil. Rapeseed oil contains omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids and is one of the most heart-healthy oils. It has been reported to reduce cholesterol levels.

Rapeseed is a heavy nectar producer and honey bees produce a light coloured but peppery honey from it, usually blended with milder honeys.

Brassica crops may be among the oldest cultivated plants to man. In India Brassica rapa is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit literature from ca. 1500 BC. Rapeseed production has a long history in China. The Chinese word for rapeseed was first recorded ca. 2500 years ago, and the oldest archaeological discoveries may date back as fas as to ca 5000 BC. Brassica rapa seems to have the widest distribution of Brassica oilseeds. At least 2000 years ago it was distributed from northern Europe to China and Korea.

photo May 2008: grethe bachmann

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