As a continuation from my last post, I’ve chosen to shed light on another food that’s not so great for the environment—palm oil. Ok, I guess it’s not really a food in the sense that someone is going to eat it plain, but I’d bet that anyone reading this has consumed or used something with palm oil today. The picture below show just some of the products containing palm oil.
You may be wondering why palm oil seems to be in everything. Palm oil is consumption is steadily increasing, and it is continually being used to replace trans fats in many foods. While this replaces the dreaded trans fat, palm oil is not a perfect solution as it contains a relatively high amount of saturated fat. Still, palm oil may seem enticing to manufacturers as it has a high production rate, meaning that almost the entire plant can be turned into the oil. Don’t be fooled, this efficiency does not mean that it is at all environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, producing palm oil seems to be quite the opposite.
Palm oil is produced from the palm fruit grown on the palm oil tree, which flourish in tropical environments. We use palm oil in so many of our foods and household products, and continually increase the amount we are importing. To keep up with this demand producers create large palm oil plantations, often destroying tropical forests in the process. Palm oil production has led deforestation, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia, and this of course has tremendous consequences. First of all, the trees cut down to create room for plantations are often burned, emitting a large amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The loss of these trees means that many animals continue to lose their natural habitats, and many others are killed in in the process. This is very upsetting, particularly given the fact that the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are home to a large variety of species .
You may now be thinking that you never want to consume palm oil again, and I’ll admit, that was my initial reaction. However, given the vast amount of products that contain palm oil, it seems unrealistic think that we can avoid it all together. Instead, we can try to our best to replace our usual foods and household products with brands that do not contain pam oil, or buy only those whose palm oil is from a certified sustainable producer. Whatever we do, it is time to make a change now as palm oil production has truly terrible consequences.