Elevating the culinary industry with Carolina Gold Oil

by | May 10, 2024

Whether you are frying, baking or sautéing, cooking oils are a commonly found ingredient in the kitchen. Although canola and olive oil are some of the more popular cooking oils, there are a variety of other oils that create unique flavor profiles and work well with all types of cooking, including sunflower oil. Got to Be NC Member, Carolina Gold Oil, based in Harrellsville, not only creates a classic sunflower oil to help elevate your cooking, but also several spice infused oils that provide specific flavor profiles. From growing up on the farm to innovating the industry as an adult, Lee Britt is bringing families across the state together one oil at a time.

As a young boy, Lee Britt, owner and operator of Carolina Gold Oil, dreamed of being a farmer. “My great-great-grandfather purchased Britt Farm in 1910 and my family has worked here ever since,” he said. “There is a lot of history here. I grew up learning how to farm row crops like tobacco and raise livestock at the hands of my grandfather and father. I always knew that this farm is exactly where I wanted to be.” As Lee got older, his father began talking with him about taking the farm in a new direction to generate more money through direct-to-consumer sales. After doing some research, Lee settled on sunflower oil as the future of the farm. “Sunflower oil immediately sparked my interest because it’s unique and rich in flavor,” he said. “Not many people in the state produce sunflower oil, so I talked with a few farmers in Minnesota and Europe to learn how their oil was made.” After purchasing a press for the sunflower seeds and setting up the farm facility to process the oil, Lee began working on his very first product, Extra Virgin Sunflower Oil. “I grew sunflowers for two years before we ever produced a bottle of oil,” he said. “However, once that first bottle was made, we took off in a direction that has grown the company beyond my wildest expectations.” Today, Carolina Gold Oil not only offers the classic Cold Pressed Sunflower Oil, but also four flavors of spice infused oils: Cajun Infused Oil, Garlic Infused Oil, Italian Infused Oil, and Mediterranean Infused Oil.

All of the oils made at Carolina Gold Oil are extracted using cold press methods. This method allows the oil to retain its flavor without the use of harsh chemicals. “Nothing gets added to the oil and nothing gets taken away throughout our process,” Lee said. “The best part about our oils is that they do retain a rich, buttery, flavor that not only works great when cooking, but also as a substitute for other ingredients like butter or margarine.” After the sunflower seeds are harvested, they are put into the press, shell and all. “We keep the seeds in the shell because there is a lot of flavor and nutrients to be found in the shells that add to the oil itself,” Lee said. “The only thing that has to be filtered out before the oil is finalized is wax, which comes from the subtle coating on the shells.” After the seeds are pressed and filtered, the sunflower oil is bottled and labeled for retail. “Our entire process is very simple and clean,” Lee said. “In utilizing our products, people can know that they are feeding their families something that is not only delicious, but safe as well. You can see and trust what we do by the process that we use on the farm.” Currently, Carolina Gold Oils can be found at farmers markets and small mom and pop establishments around the Harrellsville area. They can also be purchased online through their website. This year, however, you can find, sample and purchase Carolina Gold Oils at the Got to Be NC Festival, taking place at the N.C. State Fairgrounds May 17th-19th!

Lee has been a member of our Got to Be NC program for five or six years. Not only has he enjoyed the community of like-minded individuals that it has opened up to him, but also the events that he is able to be a part of through the program. “I was a vendor at the Got to Be NC Festival last year and truly enjoyed getting to meet a variety of people and showcase my products to a new audience,” he said. “We are excited to be returning to the festival this year!” Carolina Gold Oil will be located inside the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace, which can be found inside the Agri Supply Expo Center. This year, the building is completely full of Got to Be NC members, so you can shop a variety of locally grown, raised, caught and made products! Carolina Gold Oil will have samples available so that you can try all of their oils and decide which ones you would like to take home. “We will have all of our flavors available at the festival, the classic as well as the infused,” Lee said. “Hopefully we will convert some people from olive oil to sunflower oil and further expand the presence of our brand across the state.”

Although making money is an important aspect of any business, it is not the driving force behind products made at Carolina Gold Oil. “At the end of the day, my mission is to bring families around the table again,” Lee said. “Growing up, my family always came together at the end of the day and enjoyed dinner as a family. Unfortunately, as a society we have gotten away from that ideal and it’s my desire to bring it back.” After loosing family members such as his grandfather and his father, Lee has a greater appreciation for those family dinners and the quality time they provided. “Never take the opportunity to spend time with your friends and family for granted because you don’t know when that time will end,” he said. “If my products bring people together at the end of the day and allow them to enjoy a fresh, home cooked meal together, then I’ve done my job as a producer.” Lee also takes pride in the level of transparency he offers with his customers and the connection that they can develop with the product itself through that established trust. “With us, you know exactly where your food, or oil in this case, is coming from,” he said. “We are completely open with our customers about our process from the soil to the oil. You can trust that we are not only doing the best that we can to provide a high-quality product for ourselves, but for every family who will ever purchase and use it.”

Big plans are on the horizon for Carolina Gold Oil as they look towards new products, educational opportunities and a new facility. “I like to dream big,” Lee said. “In fact, I think if you ever reach your dreams then you haven’t dreamed big enough. I want to see this company become a national brand, like Pepsi, that is recognized everywhere across the world.” Lee and his team are beginning to grow canola and work with local peanut farmers to produce canola oil and peanut oil in the future. “I am excited to innovate and expand the farm with these new oils and offer people a larger variety of flavor profiles for their cooking,” he said. The farm is also currently looking to build a new facility on-site that will allow for tours and other educational opportunities for the public to enjoy and learn about the farm, processes and products. “I want this company to skyrocket in every way possible,” Lee said. “I want people to enjoy coming to the farm and seeing how and why we do what we do. I want our brand name and label to be seen in a variety of retail establishments across the world. Most importantly, I want Carolina Gold Oil to be a product found in kitchens across the world on the tables and in the dishes of families who enjoy spending time together.” Be sure to visit Carolina Gold Oil at the Got to Be NC Festival this year and try their oils for yourself! Take home one bottle, two or several to elevate your cooking and community at home in the kitchen.