Until recently I had never really heard much about palm oil… but as soon as I did, everything changed.
More and more, palm oil is commonly being used as an ingredient in everyday products including margarine, shortening, baked foods, cookies, candies and even soaps, candles and personal care products. Its main purpose, aside from its “binding properties”, is to replace trans fat that we’re all trying to avoid, however, there is also a great sacrifice being made through the acceptance of palm oil as our alternative to such things as hydrogenated oil…
… The sacrifice is vast amounts of rainforests and the animals that make the rainforest their home. These forests are being cleared at alarming rates to make way for palm plantations and to keep up with the demand for the product. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83% of the production and 89% of the export of palm oil. Within these countries the threat is enormous for endangered species including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses. The threat is the greatest for the orangutans, as they live ONLY in these areas that are being cleared to make way for the palm oil plantations. As you can imagine, the occurrence of hunting and poaching these poor animals has dramatically increased as well, and it is estimated that 50 orangutan are being killed each week. At this rate, their existence is limited… and I find that absolutely heartbreaking and unnecessary.
It’s also important to realize that when this deforestation occurs and the rainforests are burned, they release decades of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to the tragedy of global warming.
Also keep in mind that, though the health effects of palm oil may be a BIT less with palm oil as a substitute, it is NOT a heart-healthy food or adequate hydrogenated oil substitute, like olive, soy or canola oils. It is only a smoke-screen used by manufacturers because it is a cheap substitute and keeps the words “trans fat” off of the content label.
Sadly, the demand for palm oil is expected to double in the next 10 years… IF we continue to support the products that are using this oil as a “new” substitute. This is NOT an option.
When you are shopping, DO NOT PURCHASE products containing palm oil. By NOT buying, and selecting products without palm oil, it speaks loud and clear. It means you will not support this product and the harm and destruction it is creating!
(* Note: the image above shows a palm oil plantation as it butts up to a rainforest that has been cleared for this crop.)