Welcome to Enlighten Me Mini (EMM) #2! If you’re new here, these are mini segments of the podcast where me, myself and I focus in on one topic and try to give some tips for living your best life. Today’s topic is palm oil – what the heck is the deal with palm oil? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the product that we use in our cooking, in our packaged foods, in our makeup, and in our household cleaners, to name a few. That’s right – we all use palm oil! So, it’s time to learn the truth about this stuff.
At first look, palm oil is a super awesome product. It’s easy to grow in tropical climates, it has a longer shelf life than other oils, and it’s pretty darn cheap to grow and harvest. It also is low in saturated fat and has no trans fat, which is why the food industry grabbed hold of it back in the 90’s. This super versatile oil has become so highly demanded all over the world, though, that farmers are going to dangerous lengths to produce it.
85% of the worlds palm oil comes from two places: Indonesia and Malaysia, where human rights and environmental laws are not the strongest. To plant oil palms, rainforests are being excavated and burned down to make room for crops. This is killing animals and their natural habitats, it’s releasing carbon dioxide into the air, it’s sending local village people to the hospital because of smoke inhalation, and sometimes these fires get out of control and cause mass destruction. Oh, and this isn’t to mention the fact that worker exploitation and child labor are also rampant in these areas, making the work even more dangerous. Yikes!
So, why the heck are we still using palm oil?! Well, there’s an argument that it’s all worth it because we can use palm oil in biodiesel, which is a more “eco-friendly” alternative – but really, we’re hurting the environment more than we’re helping it through this process. Truly, the issue is that we as consumers have a huge need for oil! If it wasn’t palm oil, it would be another kind of oil. We eat a lot of oil, we use oil in our home care products, and we drive cars that need fueling. Rather than shouting from our homes for all of this to stop, we need to be more mindful in our purchasing. Let’s cut back our consumption, buy local, and read labels before we do purchase!
This is a BIG topic with no perfect solution, but by being a little more mindful, we can all make a difference together. It’s not something to feel depressed about, rather it’s something to continue to get educated about. Listen in for more tips on how you can be a more conscious consumer!
Links from the show:
New York Times article:
Episode 11 – Endangered Species Chocolate:
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo App:
Palm Smart App:
Orangutan Alliance – Alternative Names for Palm Oil:
Orangutan Alliance – Palm Oil Free Certification:
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