Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, with 85% of all palm oil globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia; but most of the time not using sustainable measures.
3 Things You Need To Know:
1.The palm oil industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, and thus climate change.
2. The palm oil industry is linked to animal cruelty and extinction of many endangered species. The large-scale deforestation involved in palm oil production is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes, species like the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers in less than 3 years
3. There are many indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rain forest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production.
In total, 50 million tons of palm oil is produced annually, supplying over 30% of the world’s vegetable oil production. This single vegetable oil is found in approximately 40-50% of household products in countries such as United States, Canada, Australia and England. Palm oil can be present in a wide variety of products, including: baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste.
Sustainable Palm Oil production has been a growing business over the past few years, although many argue that green washing is involved, there are certifications on the products we buy, like the Rainforest Alliance seal, which point us in the right direction as consumers. Along with the Sustainable Agricultural Network (SAN), Rainforest Alliance has developed the first certification standard for sustainable agriculture.
Peel Back The Label:
The World Wildlife Fund has this really cool interactive Peel Back The Label tool, where you can see exactly which everyday products may contain palm oil, and why.
What You Can Do:
You can Shop The Frog – click on this link and you can find products in your area, which carry the Rainforest Alliance seal of certification. Please know that you are making a huge difference when you do this – you are basically voting with your dollars to care for our precious planet. Deforestation seems so far away, but it affects us all, and will seriously impact our future. Without a healthy rain forest, climate change will significantly accelerate, endangered species will become extinct, and the very drugs that we are going to need to combat serious bacterial infections, will no longer be able to be sourced (yes – most of our most powerful medicines were discovered in the largest pharmacy on the planet – our rain forest).
You can also learn more about Orangutans and palm oil here.
Friday 5/6 at 6.30pm during my big Mother’s Day Pot Luck Live stream on Facebook, I will be giving away a large basket of Rainforest Alliance Certified Goodies. Don’t miss out!