Do you know where your cooking oil comes from? A little research may leave you looking for an alternative

The issues surrounding cooking oil were something that caught me off guard. Even though I’m careful to buy local and organic food, I never thought about what I was frying it in.

But then one friend pointed out the huge problems with palm oil: an under-the-radar oil that is in an estimated 50% of supermarket food and is causing massive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Another dinner guest was surprised by my use of non-organic olive oil; organic seemed so expensive until I learned olive oil production in Spain has caused irreversible damage to over 40% of Andalucia).

As I researched my remaining options, I came up against genetically modified canola, soy, corn and cottonseed oils.

It turns out that oil is an issue that goes way beyond automobiles.

Head to the super market, scan the shelves and you’ll find loads of choices for cooking oils—but they’re not all equal. Some are bad for you, others are bad for the environment. Check out our list to make sense of the labels, because ethical oils are out there, you just need to know where and how to look.

Cooking Oil Options

Mustardseed Oil: It’s a well-balanced oil with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. But it can be tricky to cook with due to its strong flavour and nutty aftertaste.

Almond Oil: A low-heat cooking oil with a strong almond flavour. It's tasty drizzled on veggies or made into dips that call for oil.

Canola Oil: This common oil is often genetically modified, so seek out non-GMO or organic brands. It’s versatile and mild, which is why it's so popular.

Grapeseed Oil: With a light taste that brings out flavour, this is another good multi-purpose oil.

Corn Oil: Often genetically modified, so in order to get the benefits of this high-smoke point frying oil you’ll need to seek out organic options.

Avocado Oil: Packed with vitamins, the oil has a mild flavour and pleasant aftertaste. It is best drizzled on dishes.

Olive Oil: Popular because of health claims and its affordable price—the boom in popularity has led to serious environmental issues. Look for organic options.

Sunflower Oil: Sunflower oil has a high-smoking point and a mild flavour, making it a versatile oil for most cooking.

Peanut Oil: Popular with Asian cuisine and works well for high temperature cooking, especially for frying and stir-frying.

Vegetable Oil: This all-purpose label is used for oils that contain a combination of oils. Check the ingredient list before buying this one.

Coconut Oil: The most recent wonder food, coconut oil is being credited with aiding in stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, helping with weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure and more. It does have a distinct sweet flavour that is nice in Indian food but doesn’t suit everything.