+ Well Nourished | Palm oil

Palm Oil – small changes make a big difference.

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.

Legislation?
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.

If you live on the Gold Coast, there is a fundraiser showing of the amazing documentary, The Last Trimate showing on September 18th, at the Gold Coast Arts Centre.  Well worth checking out.

“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. 

For regular updates on legislation and products containing palm oil, you can ‘like’ OFIA.
I’d love to receive your comments or questions too.  Post a comment below…

All of the content here at Well Nourished is FREE to assist you to be the healthiest you can be.  But you can help me to build a healthier world, please  Share this post with a friend Share this post with a friend.

You can also support my work by purchasing my ebook “Rise and Shine” – more details HERE or “The Well Nourished Lunchbox” – more details HERE.

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Without her, he hasn’t a chance.  Without us, nor does she!
PS: When I was looking for images for this post on Pinterest, I was bought to tears by some of the things I saw.  Please, just by simply directing your shopping dollar into CSPO or palm oil free products, you can do your bit.
Thanks to Caron from NOW Fresh for her input into this post, much appreciated.
  • Lucy

    Having seen the Orangutans in their natural environment in Borneo, the topic of palm oil makes me very sad indeed. It just seems ridiculous that companies are still using it.
    A great post Georgia, one that people definitely need to read! x

    • Thanks Lucy. You are very lucky, it’s on my bucket list! Hope I have opened a few eyes and motivated even a few people to change their shopping habits a little in support of the Orangutans. G x

    • I’m with you Lucy, seeing them in their own forest is a life-changer. OFIA has a very ambitious project to build a corridor through Borneo to protect existing populations. More articles like Georgia’s and conscious consumers avoiding palm oil can only help.

      • Thanks for your help Caron putting this together. It is such a tricky topic to navigate and you did a wonderful job supplying the critical bits. Can’t wait to visit Borneo one day myself. G x

  • Lucy, posted this comment on Facebook “They have a great display/information centre at the Melbourne Zoo next to the Orangutans…about the various products that have palm oil and when/if companies plan on phasing it out. Very interactive for the children as well. They have little checkout scanners to scan the products so you can see which have palm oil and which don’t. Great to get children involved at a young age!”
    Want your kids to think twice about processed foods? If they are old enough you can tell them about palm oil and the effect it’s production has on the animals who’s habitats are destroyed. Chances are this will be more motivating for them than their own health gains. My daughter is very palm oil conscious and I’m a very proud mum! G x

  • Sally

    If one person can make a change, then make that person u, say no to palm oil and start the ripple effect, it only takes one drop in the ocean to get the momentum going…..

    • This post as been really well received looking at my ‘numbers.’ Raising awareness and small changes to our shopping choices will speak volumes in a language food manufacturers understand – dollars, cha ching! G x

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