Despite high prices, people are flocking to traditional oil makers for freshly crushed oil for cooking & other purposes.
By Bapu Lingaraj Urs
With chemically rich edible oil gradually taking a toll on health in recent years adding to the rise in non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and joint pain among other ailments, people are back to roots, looking for cold-pressed oil in ‘eththina gaana’ (oil extraction with oxen) though it feels heavy on the wallet.
Edible oils of several brands are available in the market, but not all are free from chemicals. Though adulterated oil is available for a lesser price, people still prefer to buy with no alternatives to evade inflation. However, with several awareness programmes involving doctors against consuming chemically rich and adulterated oil, cold-pressed oil is back in demand.
Cold-pressed oil is nothing new as it was a traditional occupation pre-dating bygone years when our ancestors were largely dependent on freshly crushed oil from the seeds producing edible oil, coconut oil, castor oil, Huchchellenne (Niger seed) and sunflower oil to name a few. It was a regular practice among women in most households to carry groundnut, sunflower, copra and Niger seed and other seeds to these cold-pressed oil-making units.
A pair of oxen pulled the wheel in a circular manner, crushing seeds to extract oil in a huge container in the centre that would be later filtered and poured into another container, before handing over the final product to the customer.
Rich in essential fatty acids
The oil was not just known for its purity but also for its rich nutritional value. If it was an edible oil, the food prepared using such oil was rich in taste. The castor oil was widely used to light earthen lamps and also as a hair oil, besides as a therapy to check constipation.
Even now, it is in demand, especially for dense growth of hair strands and to cure headaches. After experimenting with several oil brands irrespective of edible and non-edible oil that comes with distinct aromas that rule the market in this modern era, people are gradually turning towards cold-pressed oil, with health assuming more significance.
As experts would say, these oils are rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin C and other healthy fats. These oils are considered healthy for patients suffering from cardiovascular concerns and they even protect the heart by reducing bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Though the machines running on electricity have replaced traditional methods involved in the making of oil, the oil mills at Devamba Agrahara, Shivarampet, Agrahara and several other localities are back in demand, with the people flocking to those mills.
Hub at Devamba Agrahara
S.N.K. Ankana Chettiar and Sunderraj of Devamba Agrahara, who were earlier running the oil mill deploying traditional methods, are now running the mill powered by electricity. As mentioned above, they crush any seeds to produce pure oil.
Chettiar said: “Though it consumes more time to obtain oil in mechanised method, people still wait with patience to carry home the oil considering its freshness and genuineness. We have been involved in this traditional occupation since our ancestor’s period. Now, the people are more aware of chemical content in the oil, hence they are turning towards traditional oil makers.”
Nagendra, a resident who is a regular buyer of cold-pressed oil, said: “To date, we haven’t used any other oil other than cold-pressed one. Be it cooking or hail oil, we prefer cold-pressed oil, though it costs more when compared to regularly sold oil.”