Non-GMO Oils for Your Kitchen from Local Farms

Economy, Farmers Markets, Retail, Specialty Producers, Stories, Tricia Phelps

By Tricia Phelps

“The focus for Grand Traverse Culinary Oils is keeping it local.” – W. Koucky

Grand Traverse Culinary Oils, owned by William Koucky of Traverse City, just released bottles of their locally grown, locally produced canola and sunflower oils. The cold-pressed oils are made with non-GMO seed, grown here in northern Michigan.

GT Culinary Oils

photo by Tricia Phelps

Cold-pressed processing is a method of mechanically extracting oil from seeds rather than the more common commercial process of adding chemicals to extract the oil. The natural way also produces an added-value meal product that Grand Traverse Culinary Oils will soon be selling as non-GMO animal feed. Ultimately, because this meal product is put to good use, the oil processing for Grand Traverse Culinary Oils will be zero-waste.

“The focus for Grand Traverse Culinary Oils is keeping it local,” Koucky said. He strongly encourages local farming, local production, and local consumption. The canola is grown by Kalenske Farms in Leelanau and the sunflowers are grown in Acme by the Send Brothers. In line with this commitment, Koucky will be hosting an informational meeting for farmers in February to promote canola growing in northwest Michigan. Grand Traverse Culinary Oils is currently processing about one ton of raw product a day and Koucky ensures that they “are capable of processing over four times that amount.”

Grand Traverse Culinary Oils is looking for more canola growers in the region and this will be an opportunity to learn from some of the best. Interested farmers are encouraged to contact Koucky for more information.

GT Culinary Oils

Photo courtesy GT Culinary Oils

This won’t be the first Canola Growers meeting hosted by Koucky. In fact, the inaugural meeting in 2006 was linked to bio-diesel efforts that ultimately inspired Koucky to develop his current venture. Around 2005, Koucky became interested in the process of making his own alternative fuel. With the Kalenskes as mentors, Koucky grew his own canola and made it into fuel to run his tractor, but he realized that the high-quality, freshly-pressed canola oil was better suited for human consumption, and that used food-waste products were the answer for alternative fuels. Koucky founded Northwest Michigan Bio-diesel and still has a strong interest in pursuing his research and production.

Grand Traverse Culinary Oils was also fostered by Koucky’s passion for cooking. From a young age, he enjoyed learning from his brother in the kitchen. The oils he produces are perfect for cooking, and both canola and sunflower oils have numerous health benefits. Grand Traverse Culinary Oils are filtered but not refined, which keeps in as many of the nutrients as possible.

You can purchase the Grand Traverse Culinary Oils online and at local specialty food stores, including Oryana Natural Food Co-op.

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