Canada Really Cuts the Mustard

If you asked someone to name a few foods that come to mind when they think of Canada, they would probably list items like maple syrup, poutine, and Canadian bacon (spoiler alert: we just call it bacon). Clamato juice might also be mentioned if they’d ever had the hair of the dog in the Great White North, or tourtiere if they’d spent a Christmas in Quebec.

But if you switched the question up and asked them to name the most popular condiment that originates in Canada, I’d be willing to bet the farm (pun intended) that not one person would provide the correct answer.

So what condiment am I referring to? Well if you haven’t already figured it out from this post’s title, here’s a visual hint:

Own work

Image via Wikipedia

Yep, believe it or not, the correct answer is mustard.

When it comes to producing mustard seed Canada doesn’t just excel, it dominates. In fact we grow between 75-90% of the global supply. Who knew?! And for any Albertans reading this, you can take a little extra pride in knowing that we harvest the most seeds (Saskatchewan takes second place).

But even though Canada grows the most mustard seeds, we don’t come anywhere near to being the country that manufactures the most mustard. As with most of our natural resources, the majority of seeds are shipped elsewhere to be turned into the finished product. Now that I think about it, that’s probably why we aren’t better known for our mustard seed growing prowess.

Here’s a few more strange and startling facts about your favourite yellow condiment:

  • Every part of the mustard seed plant is edible
  • More than 700 million pounds of mustard are consumed globally each year
  • The mustard seed plant is a relative of canola
  • The National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin has a collection of 5,300+ prepared mustards
  • The United States has the highest rate of mustard consumption
  • Pope John XXII was such a big fan of mustard that he created a new position at the Vatican entitled “Grand Moutardier du Pape”  (Mustard Maker to the Pope)
  • An old wives’ tale claims frostbite can be prevented by sprinkling mustard powder in your socks
  • There are approximately 40 different types of mustard plants
  • Three types of mustard seed are grown in Canada: yellow (mild), brown (hot & spicy) and oriental (hot & spicy)
  • Mustard was originally venerated for its medicinal, rather than culinary, qualities
  • Some say that a teaspoon of mustard will cure the hiccups
  • In 2012, National Mustard Day will be celebrated on August 4
  • More than 1,600 gallons plus 2,000,000 individual packets of mustard are consumed at Yankee Stadium each year

You totally want one of these right now, don't you?!

More information on mustard seed can be found by clicking here or here, and details about Canada’s mustard industry can be found here.

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