A big motivation for developing the Well Nourished website was to do my bit to make a difference to the world I leave my children. Which brings me to one of today’s most environmentally devastating practices and as it just so happens, food processing is largely driving this practice. But there are things you can do to make a difference.
Over 300 football fields of rainforest are destroyed every HOUR in South East Asia to make way for more Palm Oil Plantations. But you can change this practice, please read on…
Currently in 2013, over 87% of world production of Palm Oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. Worldwide supply is now estimated to be around 50,000,000 ton per annum. Due to rapidly rising demand for palm oil, Malaysia, and Indonesia account for around 90% of world palm oil production. However in order to sustain the demand, virgin rain forests are being decimated at an alarming rate.
The net effect
These forests are sadly home to the Orangutan and other endangered species. When the Orangutan habitat has been destroyed, they often wander onto plantations searching for food, making them vulnerable to poachers. They are run over by excavation equipment, doused in petrol and burnt alive, captured, tortured, beaten, shot with air guns or slaughtered. The orangutan is considered a pest by many of the oil palm companies as they often destroy young palm plants in the hope of finding food. In many cases, the palm oil companies place a bounty on the orangutan.
In addition, peat swamp forests which are carbon-rich organic soils are being drained, making way for plantations which are causing massive greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia has one of the largest greenhouse emissions in the world and they have relatively no industry.
Why is it not just labelled as Palm Oil?
Palm Oil, (frustratingly) goes by over 200 names or is often just labelled as vegetable oil or vegetable glycerin. It is an ingredient in about 50% of processed food including some chocolate, biscuits, crackers, baked goods, noodles, peanut butter and margarines. Palm Oil and derivatives of the oil are also used in the manufacture of cosmetics, beauty care, cleaning products, hair care, soaps and personal care items. Palm Wax is used in the manufacture of many sweets. Its use is extensive and overwhelming!
The only way to do your bit in stopping this process is to avoid purchasing products containing non-sustainable Palm oil. If only it were that simple! Sadly, the Palm Oil world is a minefield of misinformation and it is very confusing for the average consumer to navigate. It is incredibly difficult to get reliable information from manufacturers on their suppliers. Either they don’t know or have been misled to believe that the oil in their product is in fact Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
So how can you make an informed choice?
You can check out this link or this link, for a list of CSPO or palm oil free products. By supporting the companies listed on these sites, you are helping to stop this environmentally disastrous process and build a much better world.
The Australian Government could legislate to clearly state if a product contains Palm Oil. Then consumers avoiding or choosing only Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, would force producers to take steps towards ethical awareness in the manufacture of consumables. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand rejected an application to have palm oil clearly labelled in 2008. Two years later, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and former Greens Senator Bob Brown tried again. This bill passed the Senate in 2011 but was blocked on economic and trade grounds and in the lower house.
Nick Xenophon and Dr. Charlie Teo, both Ambassadors for Orangutan Foundation International Australia (OFIA), joined forces again last Friday 30th August 2013 to announce the re-introduction of the Bill straight after the election no matter which party is in power. The pair also launched a business-card sized guide to help consumers decode the many alternative names for palm oil. You can pick one of these up directly from N.O.W. Fresh Farmers Markets, Gold Coast or by sending a stamped address envelope to Orangutan Foundation International Australia.
A great cause…
The Orangutan Foundation International Australia have a single goal in their efforts to save the orangutan …. to purchase as much available sovereign land in Indonesia’s “orangutan belt” as possible. It’s the only reliable way of ensuring these bio-diverse peat forests aren’t logged or turned into palm oil plantations. On 28th January 2013, Orangutan Foundation International Australia, together with their sister organization Orangutan Foundation International in Borneo, successfully purchased a 3,000 hectare (6,400 acre) plot of land known as the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest, keeping 200 wild orangutans safe in the process. Today, they are working to expand this protected forest by purchasing two village forests to the south of Rawa Kuno. Collectively they are calling this area “The Orangutan Legacy Forest,” which will continue to “grow” as more land becomes available ensuring the permanent protection of the resident wild orangutans.
“Narrated by Mel Gibson and filmed in stunning high definition, The Last Trimate follows the incredible work of a formidable woman, Dr. Biruté Galdikas, as she highlights the plight of the elusive “red ape” and offers some hope for their survival as their very habitat is decimated at a startling rate. In turn, enlightening, devastating, uplifting, and moving – this documentary provides a compelling and heart-rending account of one woman’s fight against a threat posed by her own race.”
Want more to do or understand more…?
To donate or find out more about the Orangutan Foundation International Australia click here.
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