COOKING oil is an important component of many dishes, so it is a concern that we face significant shortages of it in the coming months, possibly years, because of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Already we see empty shelves, rationed supply and supermarket signs declaring the oil in the bottle may not match the description on the label, an apparently temporary measure. Vegetable oil is in more than 50% of the products we see on supermarket shelves, with much of the sunflower oil coming from Ukraine.

Indonesia recently stopped exports of palm oil when global demand looked likely to cause local shortages, adding pressure to nations which have outsourced much of their food supply.

Professor Chris Elliott OBE is the founder of The Institute for Global Food Security, at Queen’s University Belfast. He is concerned the lack of oil will lead to wider food shortages. He said: “This shows how vulnerable we are in terms of food resilience. We need to look at food security. It’s not just about supporting local farmers now, it’s about making sure there’s enough food for our families.

READ MORE: David Pratt: You cannot ignore this world food crisis

“Some foodstuffs already are being rationed by the supermarkets. Imagine downloading an app for rationing. I’m pretty sure that is going to happen soon. We import 50% of the food we eat in this country. It used to be 30%, with 70% produced locally. We need to get back to that. Food security is national security.”

Elliott also emphasises the ethical impact of globalisation on our food supply, with many of world’s agricultural workers being forced to work in forms of modern slavery, as well as the added issue of food safety. An alarming cocktail of chemicals are now allowed into Brexit Britain.

There is some good news, though. Those beautiful bright yellow fields we see across Scotland bring a healthy and local vegetable oil to our tables – Scottish cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

I spoke to Gregor Mackintosh, owner and founder of Mackintosh of Glendaveny. Gregor spotted the potential of cold-pressed rapeseed oil when he was an agricultural student in 2009. All of the oil is processed and bottled on his farm, but demand has far outstripped what he grows and now eight farms across Aberdeenshire also supply him with the precious seeds which make the oil.

“The domestic market has taken off. We have 91% turnover growth this year and are supplying the ‘big five’ supermarkets,” Gregor says. He is enthusiastic about the potential for people to discover more about this oil, vaunted for its healthy properties and its green credentials.

READ MORE: ‘It's time to step up’: UN pleas with billionaires amid food insecurity rise with Ukraine war

Gregor said: “Scottish cold-pressed rapeseed oil has only half the saturated fat of olive oil. It has Omega 3 and 6 in the ideal ratio for the human body, 2:1. It has a very high smoke point which makes it ideal for roasting vegetables and stir fries, but it also has a very light and subtle flavour which makes it perfect in baking and for dressings and dips.”

Scotland’s rapeseed oil doesn’t just taste amazing and have health benefits – it’s fantastic for the environment too!

“We’re a zero-waste farm,” Gregor explains. “We extract the oil from the seed, with the rest going to animal feed, and put the straw back into the ground as a green manure. It’s a low-carbon-footprint product people can trust – and the pollinators love it. Farmers in Scotland are doing tremendous work for the environment. We are creating habitats, producing food in a sustainable way, and working to feed the people of Scotland the very best our land has to offer.”

There are several producers of rapeseed oil across Scotland which boast a range of flavours, which accord to the cold-press technique used and the terroir. We are witnessing the beginning of a new, and vital, tradition for Scotland’s oil.

Ruth Watson is the founder of the Keep Scotland the Brand campaign