A couple of days ago I received an email from Change.org asking me to sign a petition to encourage the Girl Scouts of America to remove palm oil from its list of ingredients due to environmental concerns. Why? Because none of the palm oil in them comes from sustainable palm oil suppliers. My daughter is a Girl Scout…thus requiring me to buy and eat large quantities of said cookies but I signed the petition anyhow. As long as my Samoas are still tasty I am all for making them more environmentally friendly! Then, I started wondering…what exactly is it that makes palm oil so bad for the environment? I decided to do a little bit of research and was actually rather amazed at what I learned. While I can’t really stop buying Girl Scout cookies, I will definitely be supporting sustainable palm oil suppliers in my other food purchases.
Reasons to Support Sustainable Palm Oil Suppliers
There is a difference between what you imagine to be a ‘classic’ palm tree on the beach and oil palm trees. Oil palms are shorter and slightly squatter with palm oil fruits instead of coconuts. So, why are oil palms bad for the environment? Because in order to grow the number of trees needed to mass produce this oil, rainforests are getting clearcut to make way for large oil palm plantations. Almost all oil palms are grown as an industrial plantation crop in Malaysia and Indonesia. And palm oil is a HUGE business, especially since the government declared a war on trans fats a few years ago. Palm oil is a cheap NON-trans fat oil that can be used in an assortment of baked goods. Does this mean it’s healthier? Palm oil is actually high in saturated fats so I certainly wouldn’t think so. The key word in the previous sentence is CHEAP. Think you don’t eat palm oil? Think again. It is in most of the store bought baked goods you buy. So, yes….you really do need to worry about sustainable palm oil!
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Palm Oil Fruit
- Download the One Green Planet-Responsible Palm Oil Shopping Guide Read your ingredient labels before you buy. You may be able to find a perfectly tasty alternative to your current palm oil containing snack.
- Make a donation to the Nature Conservancy which is working with farmers in Indonesia to help them learn how to develop plantations without rainforest destruction.
- Check out the Palm Oil Action Group for more information. You can find palm oil free shopping guides and volunteer opportunities, as well as other organizations to donate to. Get started with the latest activist materials and support sustainable palm oil suppliers.
- Read more about the issue on the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil page.
Here are a few more ways to make sustainable kitchen choices!
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.