Is our insatiable desire for snack food destroying the world’s forests? Learn all about the problems with palm oil. We all play a role, everytime we go to the grocery store.
Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm tree and makes its way into about 50 per cent of packaged items on supermarket shelves.
Take a peak in your kitchen cupboards and if you have any kind of processed or snack food, from crackers to chips to chocolate to peanut butter, instant noodles and biscuits, there’s a good chance it contains palm oil.
It’s probably in your freezer, too – check your ice cream, pizza and desserts.
And it’s definitely in the cleaning products under your sink.
Shampoo, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals also contain palm oil, although it may be disguised under other names, including:
Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol.
Palm oil is a lucrative business – the most productive oil crop in the world – and accounts for 65 per cent of all vegetable oil traded internationally, with 90 per cent sourced from plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The problem comes from unchecked oil palm expansion into some of the world’s last remaining tropical forests.
High yielding, highly versatile, low in trans-fats and cheap to produce, palm oil is not in itself a bad thing; the problem comes from unchecked oil palm expansion into some of the world’s last remaining tropical forests. Deforestation is directly linked to global warming, which affects us all.
While boycotting palm oil is not the answer, demanding that it is sustainably grown might be.
You can view the WWF list of products that contain palm oil here.
Image by Rainforest Action Network (Flickr).