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Rapeseed is a member of the mustard and cabbage family, it has a distinctive bright yellow flower. It can also be known as oilseed rape, rapa, rappi or rapeseed. Rapeseeds are mainly consumed in China and South Africa as vegetables. The name of the plant or vegetable came from the Latin word r?pa or r?pum which essentially means turnip.
Rapeseeds today are grown for the production of animal foods, edible vegetable oils and biodiesel with the leading producers being Australia, Canada , China, India and the European Union. In India there are over 6 million tons produced annually. Rapeseed was actually one of the largest and leading sources of vegetable oil in the world in 2000 after soybean and palm oil, as stated by the United States Department of Agriculture. It accounts for one-fifth of the production of soybean meals and is the world’s second leading source for protein meals .
The world production of rapeseed is increasing and with the FAO reporting 36 million tons of rapeseed being produced in the 2003 and 2004 season and over 54 million tons in the 2010 and 2011 season it is clear that rapeseed demand is on the rise. Within Europe rapeseeds are mainly used for animal food due to its high lipid and medium protein content.
Natural rapeseed oils contain around 50% of eurcic acid and wild seeds contain high levels of glucosinolates, chemical compounds that considerably lower the nutritional value of rapeseed press cakes for animal foods. In the North of Canada the term ‘canola’ became widely used to refer to rapeseed and has now become a trade name for ‘double low’ rapeseed, meaning that it has low eurcic acid and low glucosinolates.
A by product of rapeseed meals is formed due to the process of producing rapeseed oil. Its high protein value is what makes it competitive with soybean meals and makes it perfect for animal feed. The food is usually used for cattle feeding and also for pigs and chickens. It has a low content of glucosinolates which is responsible for the metabolism distribution within cattle and pigs. Rapeseed ‘oil cake’ is also used as a fertiliser in China and can also be used for ornamental purposes like bonsai.
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