The problem with palm oil, and how to stop it!

You know that advert, by Iceland (UK supermarket) – at the bottom of the post – which has been banned for being ‘too political’? Well it has made me think about the products which we use which contain palm oil in one form or another, and how I’m not doing enough to reduce what I use or at least try to start using products which are sourced/produced in a responsible manner.

I mean did you know that palm oil is the MOST widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet? It’s also in about HALF of all packaged products sold in the supermarket. The thing is that it isn’t always clearly labelled as palm oil so we don’t even know that is what we are buying! Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many 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.

Seriously how many of us (unless we have life threatening allergies) really take time to look into, let alone understand, food labelling when it is as detailed as that?

Sometimes, it can be clearly labelled as ‘palm oil’ but it will be in the small print and only say it ‘contains’ and won’t be up in the major ingredients list so its easy to miss.

The thing about palm oil is that it grows in tropical rainforests, the habitat of endangered species, including the ‘rang-tangs’ or orangutans in the adverts, but also tigers, elephants and rhinos but also insects and flora as well as tress themselves that are cleared to make way for fore ‘harvesting’ of the oil.

Palm oil is NOT necessary in anything it is used for, it is simply useful: in some chocolate it is used in it makes it look shinier and helps it keep from melting for longer in higher temperatures; in lipstick it keeps it glossy and helps reduce it’s taste; in margarine it keeps it solid at room temperature; in ice-cream it makes it smooth and creamy; in instant noodles it helps pre-cook them so all you have to do is add water.

The list goes on but, simply put, palm oil helps make human life easier while DESTROYING pretty much all other life we take it from.

We DON’T need it!

They DO!

The thing is, us humans don’t even need to cut it out of our lives completely either because that might be too difficult, and it also might put a lot of people out of jobs that they rely on to survive. What everyone CAN do, however, is to try to only buy products which were produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Look for the RSPO label to ensure you purchase products made with certified sustainable palm oil. If you can’t find the RSPO label then look for the Green Palm label! This label indicates products in support of the transition to certified palm oil. Proceeds from Green Palm certificates help growers fund the transition to sustainable palm oil. Both of these things will go a LONG way to help.

Also, if you live in the UK shop in Iceland and especially use Iceland’s own products because they won’t be using palm oil in ANY of their stuff from now on and that is an amazing thing so support them!!!