About Palm Oil
Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil which has a very high content of saturated fat. It is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms originated in West Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, almost all palm oil is produced in, and exported from, Indonesia and Malaysia; but most of the time not using sustainable measures.
Unsustainable Palm Oil is responsible for thousands of kilometers of pristine rainforest that is slashed and burned in order to make way for oil palm plantations. Many orangutans and other animals are killed in the process, for the production of palm oil used in many of our everyday foods and products. This large-scale deforestation is pushing orangutans to extinction, along with many other native species of Borneo and Sumatra.
(In the photo above is slashed and burned rainforest in order to make way for a Palm Oil Plantation)
Palm oil is an extremely popular vegetable oil amongst manufacturers. It is used in over 50% of products, including: baked goods, confectionery, cosmetics, body products and cleaning agents. But in many countries, there is no law on the mandatory labeling of palm oil. Consequently, companies will usually hide palm oil under the name of 'vegetable oil', or over 170 other names!
Palm oil has the benefit of the highest yield per hectare among vegetable oil-yielding crops, meaning that less land is required for production. It also requires comparatively lower amounts of inputs such as fertilizer, fuel and pesticides. If they produce Palm Oil sustainability than it would be the perfect crop. Less Land Required for Production= Less land that needs to be destroyed.
One option for companies is 'sustainable palm oil'. That is sourced through the RSPO... Learn more about the RSPO above...
However; even if sustainable palm oil was proven to actually be 'sustainable', why wouldn't all companies use it? Consider two chocolate bars. They both contain palm oil. One uses palm oil sourced from a sustainable plantation, the other uses palm oil from plantations associated with animal genocide and catastrophic deforestation. Which one would you buy? The answer may be obvious to you, but for the global corporate giants of this world, it's a different story.
We need palm oil in today's society. Palm oil is a key ingredient in many foods and body products. But what about 30 years ago? Back then, palm oil wasn't used in nearly as many products as today, in fact, it was almost non-existent in much of the Western-world. So why does there need to be such a high demand for it in the modern world? To sum it up; Palm Oil is cheap, provides many jobs, and requires less land to be produced.
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RSPO- Roundtable For Sustainable Palm Oil
RSPO, founded in 2004, is an organisation made to promote the sustainable agriculture of the palm oil crop.
It is a good start for companies to become a member of RSPO and commit to sourcing 'Sustainable Palm Oil".
There has been large debate and controversy over whether RSPO is a well run, effective organisation or as some describe; 'a green wash'. Many consumers are not happy with RSPO's low standards and lack of regulations. Consumers state that the RSPO is simply a name that companies can hide behind and that the palm oil cannot be proven to be sustainable.
For now, it's up to you as a consumer to choose whether you trust the RSPO and their standards on sustainable palm oil.
(In all the photos above are of homes being destroyed. Orangutans and many other plants and animals being left without a home)